Inflammation is the body's ultimate good cop-bad cop. It's what happens when the immune system dispatches blood cells and proteins to heal injuries or fight off invaders like viruses and bacteria. But you don't want inflammation to hang around too long. Chronic inflammation can damage organs and arteries, raising the risk of serious health issues like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and dementia. Read on to find out about five ways to reduce inflammation—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Get More Exercise
Exercise won't just trim your waistline—it may reduce the inflammation you can't see but may be wreaking havoc on your heart and arteries. One study conducted at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine found that just one 20-minute session of moderate exercise causes the body to produce an anti-inflammatory cellular response. To get the most benefits (like slashing your risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes), make it a habit. Experts including the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society recommend getting at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise each week. That's anything that makes you breathe a bit harder, such as brisk walking, dancing, yoga or gardening.
Particularly fatty fish like salmon. They're rich in two powerful omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce the kind of inflammation that leads to heart disease and diabetes. The American Heart Association even recommends eating fish (especially fatty fish) at least twice a week to improve heart health. Besides salmon, good options include mackerel, herring, trout, sardines and albacore tuna.
People who are overweight tend to have more inflammation. Losing weight can reduce the amount of inflammation in your body, according to a 2018 review of studies which found that reducing the number of calories you consume daily has an anti-inflammatory effect, no matter what diet you follow.
Chronic stress seems to cause an inflammatory response in the body, which can damage the heart and immune system. Recent studies have found that excessive stress can increase your risk of cardiovascular disease, fatty liver disease, and cancer (and a poor prognosis), potentially shortening your life by years.
You've heard the nutritional advice "eat the rainbow?" That's because colorful fruits and vegetables contain an array of natural plant chemicals that lower the chance of chronic disease. Particularly berries: Blueberries, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are particularly rich in anthocyanins, an antioxidant which has anti-inflammatory effects. In this food group, experts say an MVP is cherries. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.