There are many factors that come into play when attempting to treat chronic inflammation. The speed at which the symptoms can be reversed will depend on your ability to mitigate those factors. And the sooner you do the sooner you'll find some relief.

Johane M. Filemon, M.S., RDN
June 30, 2021
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Inflammation is the latest buzzword coming out of the health industry that we hear and see everywhere. Everyone wants to know what it's about and how to get rid of it or at least reduce it. With so much talk on the topic, the truth is that the picture that's been painted about inflammation is mainly skewed or incomplete. What's often left unsaid is that inflammation itself is not the problem; chronic inflammation is. Put differently, inflammation can be a good thing, but becomes a bad thing when it persists beyond normal recovery periods.

Most of us are introduced to inflammation through outward reactions. Stubbed toes and sprained ankles are some examples. Other obvious examples of our bodies' response to inflammation are fevers, headaches, persistent stomach pain and bloating. However, while chronic inflammation may sometimes reveal physical symptoms, often the signs and symptoms can be subtle and may be seen as the "new normal" as we are getting older.

woman clutching her knee on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / PeopleImages

While our society consistently searches for quick solutions, treating this type of inflammation will require more than just an ice pack and may not happen overnight. Also, attempting to reverse inflammation through one-size-fits-all solutions may result in disappointment. You may find that two people have the same symptoms of chronic inflammation, yet the cause of their inflammation isn't the same.

Long story short, what will work person-to-person will differ, as will the time it takes to heal. But ultimately, the speed at which the symptoms can be reversed will depend on your ability to mitigate certain factors. And the sooner you do, the sooner you should see some relief.

Steps that Will Support Fast Reduction of Inflammation

1. Find the cause of the chronic inflammation

What you don't want to do with chronic inflammation is cover the symptoms with a Band-Aid and not address the root cause. Meaning just throwing random solutions at it may not work. Finding out what the cause of the chronic inflammation is and getting it addressed is key to knowing what treatment can be used to reverse that inflammation and how fast it can be reduced. It can mean going the traditional route of medication, depending on the severity of the cause, or using foods high in anti-inflammatory properties such as herbs and spices with for healing.

Read more about common inflammatory conditions—like diabetes, heart disease, psoriasis and arthritis—and the signs and symptoms that go with each.

2. Consult with a health professional who has experience in anti-inflammatory therapies

Not everyone is experienced in functional nutrition or medicine. It is important to find a health practitioner that can guide you to understand where your chronic inflammation may be coming from and what therapy route to take. Seek out a registered dietitian in your area or speak with your primary care office to find the right medical professional for you.

3. Reduce stressors

Stress is a known inflammatory supporter. If you are dealing with chronic stressors, you are more likely encouraging those chronic inflammatory symptoms to persist. It's important to address these stressors head on and eliminate sources of stress in your life. Additionally, take time out for yourself and incorporate stress-relieving activities into your day, like walking, yoga or meditation. If contacting a mental health therapist is what you need to do, do it as soon as you can. Living a stressful life will only increase the time it takes to reduce chronic inflammation.

4. Get enough sleep

We all have busy lives but it's important to make sure you get enough sleep each night. Sleep and our immune system (which controls inflammation) are dependent on one another and when one is out of whack, so is the other. Not getting enough sleep at night can cause the immune system to go into overdrive, causing excessive inflammation in the body and decreasing the speed of healing.

Whether you have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, getting a restful nights sleep or a combination of the three, it's important to work those issue out to get more shut eye.

5. Support your gut

Damage to the gut can lead to imbalances in the gut flora. Those imbalances can specifically harm the good bacteria that help with digestion and absorption. That good gut bacteria also helps to keep the gut lining healthy and prevent foreign inflammatory bodies from infiltrating our system.

Support and replenish those good bacteria by consuming prebiotic foods (AKA food for good gut bacteria), like fiber-rich seeds, whole grains and beans, along with fermented foods that are naturally high in probiotics (think kimchi, yogurt and kombucha). Depending on your medical history and current health status, a probiotic supplement may be necessary to help really replenish your system.

6. Eat more colorful plant-based foods

Plant-based foods are not only high in fiber but they also have plenty of anti-inflammatory properties. Think lycopene in tomatoes, omega-3 fats from nuts and seeds and vitamin C in fruit and potatoes. The different colors of fruits and veggies correlate to the different anti-inflammatory compounds they contain, so eating a variety of colorful plant-based foods means you'll get a wider range of nutrients to help reduce inflammation.

7. Stay hydrated

The nutrient-dense plant-based foods you are now eating won't be able to do what it needs to do without water. Staying hydrated is important for the body to function as it should. This doesn't only mean drinking only water but also consuming foods high with a high-water content. Watermelon, honeydew melon and cucumbers are some of the fruits and vegetables with high water content that you can include in the foods that you eat.

8. Spice-up your meals

Get spicy in the kitchen! Not only will your palate thank you, but so will your health. Herbs and spices are full of antioxidants that support gut health and may decrease inflammation. Adding more to your meals will help to decrease chronic inflammation.

9. Cut down on processed foods

Most of the foods we are purchasing at grocery stores have been processed in some form or another. The types of processed foods that you'll want to think about reducing are the ones high in added sugar, excess sodium, simple carbohydrates and hydrogenated fats. The more we consume these foods, the less we are consuming the nutrient dense foods that will help in reducing inflammation.

Bottom line

Although there is no super-fast way to reduce inflammation, incorporating the steps above will decrease your risks of having chronic inflammation and the duration if you do develop inflammatory symptoms. The sooner you're able to get some of these factors under control, the sooner you'll find some relief from chronic inflammation.