If you think you’re at risk for chronic inflammation
and its awful consequences, you’ll be glad to know that creating an anti-inflammatory
lifestyle is easier than you may realize. These simple steps will help you reduce
existing inflammation and prevent it from becoming chronic.
1. Brush and floss your teeth regularly: If you’re
like me, you know dental health is important but don’t always prioritize it. But
brushing and flossing your teeth at lease once daily are two of simplest and quickest
ways to fight harmful inflammation.
The inflammation related to periodontal disease has been linked to chronic inflammation
as well as subsequent heart disease and Alzheimer’s, so visiting your dentist on
a regular basis is also a good idea.
What’s a good anti-inflammatory diet?
A Mediterranean-style diet is our recommended choice. It’s made up of whole grains,
fish, healthy fat and oils, fruits and vegetables and is the basis for the Eating
Guides and Meal Plans in all of our Health Programs. Plus a Mediterranean diet is
delicious and can be easy to prepare.
2. Fight inflammation with real food: You have a
lot of delicious menu options when it comes to reducing inflammation. Choosing the
right foods can help your body by blocking certain stages in the inflammatory cascade
or by removing toxic by-products.
The best inflammation fighting foods are rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are
so effective because they bind to and deactivate harmful “oxygen free radicals”
that are by-products of the inflammatory process. This stops oxidative damage right
in its tracks.
Some of my favorite anti-inflammatory foods include:
- dark berries (including blueberries and blackberries)
- red wine (in moderation — a glass a day)
- dark chocolate (a square or two a day, and be sure it’s not processed with alkali
because this greatly reduces the major antioxidant flavanol)
Another personal favorite are beets, which contain betaine, a powerful antioxidant
that can block the formation of several inflammatory markers. Beets can be enjoyed
in so many ways -- in salads, smoothies, juices, or even roasted with a little balsamic
Finally, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids like EPA and DHA found in fatty-fish
oil can play a big protective role by acting directly on signal pathways during
- 2 teaspoons organic dried turmeric (or fresh turmeric if it’s available)
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon rind (from unwaxed organic lemon)
- ½-1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (depending on desired taste)
- 2 cups water (or coconut water if you want it sweeter)
- 1-2 tablespoons raw organic honey to taste (you can use organic maple syrup as an
Blend all these ingredients into a bright orange solution. Store in the refrigerator.
3. Try turmeric – the anti-inflammatory spice. Some
specific ingredients are in the spotlight recently as mega-inflammatory fighters.
The spice turmeric, for example, has gained serious credibility in reducing inflammation
related to Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and cancer.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which extinguishes inflammation by shutting off pro-inflammatory
markers and reducing free radicals. Turmeric can be consumed in food, as a tea,
in capsules or in a solution.
My favorite way to add turmeric to my daily routine is as a delicious elixir. I
drink it in the morning, and it’s good warm or cold. Check out my recipe on your
4. Cut out the chemicals: Exposure to pesticides
and preservatives causes inflammation by invading cells and destroying tissue. Our
gut flora, which acts as another sort of immune system is also greatly affected
by these chemicals. Repeated exposure kills off this crucial line of defense, leading
to further tissue death and inflammation.
Be especially careful with cleaning products. There are many natural options that
are effective and much less toxic to you and your family. Read labels carefully
when it comes to cosmetics, shampoo, toothpaste and other personal care products.
Avoid phthalates and parabens whenever possible.
You can also reduce your chemical exposure with better food choices. Try to eat
seasonal, local and, especially, organic as often as you can, and wash your vegetables
well when you can’t. Stick to homemade food instead of highly-processed foods that
come in plastic containers.
5. Enjoy being active: Regular exercise reduces inflammation
very effectively by improving circulation and lymphatic flow, and reducing body
fat. You can do any type of exercise as long as it gets your heart pumping. Set
a goal to work out for at least 30 minutes, 5 days a week and work up to it bit
Keeping a healthy weight is so important to put inflammation in its place. When
the body is under metabolic stress, as it is with obesity, fat cells can help initiate
an inflammatory reaction. This happens because fat cells can act like immune cells
by releasing cytokines, which push immune cells to initiate an inflammatory reaction.
6. Make sleep a true priority: If I had to choose
one good thing to tell my patients to do for themselves, it’s to prioritize developing
a sleep schedule, and then follow it closely. Sleep is the time when your body is
able to heal from the physical and emotional traumas of the day. Interrupted, poor
quality sleep cuts sharply into that healing time.
It’s tempting to stay up to work or catch up on social media. Be good to yourself
and go to bed at a reasonable hour, and keep the room cool, dark and comfortable.
Remove the television and phone from the bedroom, and allow yourself time to settle
down and just be still. If you have trouble sleeping, consider supplementing with
melatonin, a natural sleep
hormone that helps maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.
7. Adjust your response to stress: Inflammation is
also triggered in response to stress and anxiety. As the body interprets these emotions
as internal invaders no matter what their cause, it releases inflammatory markers
everywhere throughout the body to head off impending danger.
The more stress in your life, the more likely it is you’re headed towards an inflamed
state. Consider starting a meditation program or try journaling every night — both
help release stress. The options for stress reduction are endless, so if the first
one you try doesn’t seem right for you, move on to others until you find the one
Remember, you don’t have to make all of these changes at once. Pick one to get started
and once it becomes part of your routine, choose another to add. In today’s world,
it’s essential that we all try to create an anti-inflammatory lifestyle to feel
better now and protect ourselves in the long run.
Teiten M, Eifes S, Dicato M and Diederich M. “Curcumin—The Paradigm of a Multi-Target
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Saita E, Kondo K, Momiyam Y “Anti-inflammatory Diet for Atherosclerosis and Coronary
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Schenkein HA, Loos BG “Inflammatory Mechanism Linking Periodontal Diseases to Cardiovascular
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Miller et al. Impact of alkalization on the antioxidant and flavanol content of
commercial cocoa powders. J Agric Food Chem 56:8527-33 (2008)
Egger G “In Search of a Germ Theory Equivalent for Chronic Disease” Prev Chronic
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Salim S, Chugh G, Ashgar M “Inflammation in Anxiety,” Adv Protein Chem Struct Bio
Inflammation and Heart Disease”, American Heart Association. Updated April 18, 2016.
Help protect your body
from the effects of oxidative stress
Our Super Antioxidant contains special forms of vitamin C, curcumin, and lycopene
to get the job done.