Inflammation is the natural response to any kind of irritant that makes its way onto the surface of the skin or inside of the body. While many people associate it with an allergy or an injury, inflammation can occur for a variety of reasons. The main signs of inflammation include:
- pain or discomfort
Chronic inflammation can lead to aches and irritation, as well as unsightly side effects in various locations all over the body. Internally, it can cause gastrointestinal distress, headaches, inhibited function of certain organs or tissues, chronic pain, and more. While inflammation is very common, it is also often easily managed with the right approach and a healthy lifestyle.
Focus on an Anti-Inflammatory Diet
One of the main causes of chronic inflammation is poor dietary choices. These days, many people consume significantly high amounts of processed foods that are loaded with fats, sugars, sodium, and chemicals or artificial ingredients that can be harmful in large amounts or over time. Understanding which foods to limit and which ones to consume more of can help keep inflammation under control while reducing the risks of severe flare-ups.
Foods to Avoid
Stay away from processed foods as much as possible, such as chips, cookies, sodas, and sweets. Fast food or takeout can also be loaded with ingredients that tend to make inflammation worse. For many people, gluten can be an irritant that leads to uncomfortable symptoms. Be mindful of food choices that are made with grains that contain gluten. Is oatmeal inflammatory? For some people, it can be but for others, it may be problematic. While it is technically gluten-free, it is easily contaminated with this type of protein when harvested and processed, so choose your brand wisely and monitor your body’s response to it.
Foods to Enjoy
If it sounds like you’ll need to severely change your diet to limit inflammatory foods, don’t worry. There are still plenty of delicious options that are great for reducing swelling and limiting irritation while enabling your body to function at its best. Foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids are often recommended to help reduce inflammation and include fatty fish and certain nuts and seeds. Dark leafy greens are also a great choice, along with berries, tomatoes, and olive oil.
Drink Plenty of Water
When you don’t consume enough water, your body compensates by releasing antidiuretic hormone, which limits the excretion of urine to help conserve water. This water retention is often very noticeable because it can lead to swelling, especially around the face, hands, and legs or ankles. Drink at least eight servings of water on a daily basis and aim to sip them throughout the day. Keep in mind that you may need even more water depending on your size and health needs.
Another simple yet effective way to reduce inflammation in the body is to keep it moving. This is especially true if you’re dealing with stiff, swollen, and painful joints. Low-impact exercise on a routine basis can help keep those areas mobile while limiting pain and swelling. Walking is a great option for everyone, but swimming, biking, or riding an elliptical machine are also great choices. All exercise can also help improve circulation, keeping inflammation under control.
Reduce Stress in Healthy Ways
High stress can be an inflammatory condition that leads to a host of complications, including:
- Trouble sleeping
- Cardiovascular issues
- Digestive problems
- Chronic pain
- Difficulty with sexual performance or function
Keeping stress under control is an important part of an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. Many people may find themselves tempted to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as smoking, alcohol, binge eating, or a sedentary lifestyle. However, these practices can make matters worse. Try healthy activities, exercise, meditating, therapy, and spending quality time with loved ones or a beloved pet instead.
If chronic inflammation is becoming an issue in your life, there are steps you can take to make serious improvements. By living an anti-inflammatory lifestyle, you can enjoy more comfort, less pain, and better overall health.