Persistent inflammation fuels most chronic diseases and is a major player in the complications of viral illnesses. If you have a chronic disease–arthritis, diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, diabetes, obesity, or chronic major depression, these science-validated suggestions will help you defeat inflammation and improve!
Adopt a well-balanced plant-based diet. The typical Western diet (characterized by higher intakes of red and processed meats, sweets, desserts, French fries, and refined grains) increases inflammatory markers in the blood. In contrast, the regular consumption of a prudent diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and monounsaturated fats (olives, almonds, and avocados) reduces inflammation.
For example, a continual consumption of the western-type diet promotes inflammation, especially in the liver.1 Consuming this diet regularly reduces certain anti-inflammatory cells within the arteries and makes the arteries more sensitive to inflammation and prone to atherosclerosis.2 Why? Diet affects the composition of our gut bacteria.
Improve Gut Health
Optimize your gut health. A healthful diet promotes the proliferation of friendly gut bacteria that produces anti-inflammatory compounds. Unfortunately, the typical Western diet encourages the growth of unfriendly gut bacteria that generates pro-inflammatory compounds that impact the gut, the brain, the liver, the immune system, and so much more. Just a few days of consuming a particular diet impacts the gut bacteria. Please note the timing of your meals, regularity of schedule, and sufficient sleep are essential for optimal gut health.
Avoid Harmful Beverages
Drastically reduce soft and sweetened drinks. The average American drinks 216 liters of soft drinks annually. Low to moderate consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages increased bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, blood glucose levels, and an inflammatory marker (scup) in healthy young men in just three weeks.3
Enjoy Whole Fruits
Eat red grapes, berries, and cherries. These fruits are loaded with anti-inflammatory phytochemicals. Flavonoids found in blueberries and cranberries protect our small blood vessels from inflammatory assaults and improve mental performance by increasing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity within the brain.4 Buy organic produce when you can. If you can’t, soak these fresh fruits in cold water for 20 minutes and rinse. Frozen fruits are a good substitute and may even have more antioxidant compounds than fresh fruits.
Relish the Greens
Eat a green vegetable and celery often. Chlorophyll and magnesium in these foods combat inflammation. Want a great anti-inflammatory vegetable with pain-reducing properties? Eat celery. Medical botanist James Duke points out that celery contains two dozen analgesic compounds and more than two dozen anti-inflammatory phytochemicals.5 Don’t like raw celery? Use it liberally in soups, legume dishes, and entrées. A veggie cocktail of half carrot and half celery juice is excellent. Chia seeds, flaxseeds, and leafy greens provide anti-inflammatory omega-fat, an alpha-linolenic fatty acid.
Check on Your B-12 Level!
Vitamin B-12 lowers the risk for inflammatory, cardiovascular problems.6 Indeed, low levels of B-12 increases homocysteine. Unfortunately homocysteine pushes inflammation inside of the arteries. Early evidence suggests that vitamin B-12 helps to counter acute and chronic pain and inflammation.7
Individuals consuming vegan or vegetarian diets, the elderly, and individuals who have celiac or Crohn’s disease, gastritis, stomach or bowel surgery, thyroid conditions, and consumers who drink liberal amounts of alcohol are at significant risk for B-12 deficiency, They should have their vitamin B-12 level checked annually. Heartburn medicine interferes with vitamin B-12 absorption. Avoid the extremes of being deficient and overdosing on vitamins because both have adverse effects.
Thiamine is another vitamin that exerts analgesic activities and also has significant anti-inflammatory effects.8
Lose weight if obese. Low-muscle mass combined with high body fat triggers inflammatory problems. Fat cells are actually endocrine cells that make an arsenal of chemicals many of which, if produced in excess, promote inflammation. The good news is that steady, gradual weight loss helps to reduce inflammation even before ideal weight is achieved.
Get Vitamin D!
Be sure your vitamin D level is normal. As many as 50% of North Americans and Western Europeans are either deficient or have insufficient levels of the vitamin D hormone, calcitriol. This is dangerous because this hormone combats inflammation and free radical damage. It also fights cancer. Certain autoimmune conditions can negatively affect the cells’ receptors for vitamin D and how the body utilizes vitamin D. 9
Sunscreen blocks vitamin D production in the skin when it is exposed to the sunlight. You are at risk for vitamin D deficiency if you have dark skin, are obese, or have kidney disease.
Sleep Tight, Good Night!
Get adequate, good quality sleep. Even reducing a normal sleep time of eight hours by 25% encourages inflammation. Deficient sleep increases inflammation. Losing sleep for even part of one night can trigger one of the major cellular pathways that produce tissue-damaging inflammation. Sleep loss also can encourage the development and progression of an autoimmune disease like rheumatoid arthritis.10 Sleep deprivation also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing at least three inflammatory markers involved in atherosclerosis.
Thrive on Exercise
Engage in moderate exercise daily. Moderate exercise thickens the adrenal gland cortices which produce the anti-inflammatory hormone cortisol. This valuable hormone tightens up the cell membranes making them more resistant to compounds. Resistance training reduces inflammation in obese, post-menopausal women.11
The exercise does not have to be vigorous or intense. Just 20 minutes of moderate exercise acts as an anti-inflammatory agent.12 Regular, moderate exercise also increases anti-inflammatory compounds in the elderly.
Cultivate Positive Attitudes
Develop sound mental health. Depression and chronic anxiety promote inflammation. By cultivating an attitude of gratitude, replacing distorted thought patterns with healthy thoughts, and by accepting our limitations that we cannot change, we reduce our stress. Loneliness increases the activity of genes involved in inflammation. And loneliness decreases the expression of genes involved in antiviral responses.13 Consequently, higher susceptibility to inflammation and viral sickness results.
Control Chronic Diseases
Control chronic disease. Keep blood sugar and blood pressure within normal ranges. Any uncontrolled chronic disease generates more free radical damage and inflammation. Work with your doctor to reduce this damage.
Persistent inflammation fuels disease. Healthful lifestyle practices prevent undesirable inflammation and help to reverse it.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is helpful and is educational. It is not the author’s or authors’ or Wildwood Health Institute’s intent to substitute the blog article for diagnosis, counseling, or treatment by a qualified health professional.
Copyright through December 2023. All rights reserved by Wildwood Sanitarium, Inc.
Keywords: inflammation, inflammation diet, anti-inflammatory diet, inflammation and the gut, inflammatory bio-markers, inflammation diseases, arthritis, diabetes
- Elsevier. “Chronic liver inflammation linked to Western diet: Food, antibiotics, and gender are just some of the factors that can throw off the balance between the gut and liver, according to a new report.” Science Daily, 12 July 2017.
- Christ Anette. Western Diet Triggers NLRP3-Dependent Innate Immune Reprogramming. Cell, 2018; 172 (1-2): 162 DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.12.013.
- Eagerly I., Low to moderate sugar-sweetened beverage consumption impairs glucose and lipid metabolism and promotes inflammation in healthy young men: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clan Nutria. 2011 Aug; 94(2):479-85.
- Base A. Berries: emerging impact on cardiovascular health. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3068482/
- Duke, James, the Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods, Rodale Books, 1008, p. 88-89.
- Al-Daghri NM. Association of Vitamin B12 with Pro-Inflammatory Cytokines and Biochemical Markers Related to Cardiometabolic Risk in Saudi Subjects. Nutrients. 2016;8(9):460. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5037505/
- Hosseinzadeh H. Anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12) against acute and chronic pain and inflammation in mice. Arzneimittelforschung. 2012 Jul;62(7):324-9. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22588629/
- Moallem SA. A study of acute and chronic anti-nociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects of thiamine in mice. Iran Biomed J. 2008 Jul;12(3):173-8. PMID: 18762821.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18762821/
- Jeffery LE. Decreased sensitivity to 1, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 in T cells from the rheumatoid joint. Journal of Autoimmunity, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaut.2017.10.001
- Elsevier. “Loss of Sleep, Even For a Single Night, Increases Inflammation in the Body.” Science Daily. Science Daily, 4 September 2008. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080902075211.htm.
- Phillips MD, resistance t al., Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2012 Nov; 44(11):2099-110.
- Dimitra S. Inflammation and exercise: Inhibition of monocytes intracellular TNF production by acute exercise via β2-adrenergic activation. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.bbi.2016.12.017
- Cole SW. Myeloid differentiation architecture of leukocyte transcriptome dynamics in perceived social isolation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2015; 201514249 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1514249112.