The Fastest Ways to Reduce Inflammation

While reducing inflammation in your body can take some time, there are a few ways to get there faster. Here are nine things you can start doing today to lower your body's inflammation level.

Inflammation is a common buzzword in the health industry. And for good reason. According to a 2019 review in Nature Medicine, chronic inflammation can be a root cause of many chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders.

Not all inflammation is bad, though. Acute inflammation can be a good thing but becomes a bad thing when it persists beyond normal recovery periods. So, inflammation itself is not the problem—chronic inflammation is.

Most of us are familiar with the inflammation associated with stubbed toes and sprained ankles. Other examples of our bodies' response to inflammation include fevers, headaches, persistent stomach pain and bloating.

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.

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Our society is constantly searching for quick solutions, but 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 can result in disappointment.

For example, two people can have the same symptoms of chronic inflammation, but the cause of their inflammation isn't necessarily the same. So what works to heal one person might not work for another.

With that said, the sooner you start taking action to reverse the inflammation in your body, the sooner you should see some relief. Here are nine things you can start doing today to begin the healing process.

Ways to Quickly Reduce Inflammation

1. Find the Cause of the Chronic Inflammation

Masking the symptoms of chronic inflammation with a "Band-Aid solution" and throwing random treatments at it will most likely lengthen the amount of time it takes to reduce it. Find out the cause of your chronic inflammation and address it. This is key to knowing what treatment can be used to reverse that inflammation and how quickly it can be reduced.

This might 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, 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

It is important to find a health practitioner who can guide you toward understanding 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. Preferably, choose a professional who is experienced and credentialed in functional medicine or nutrition.

3. Reduce Stressors

Stress is a known inflammatory supporter. And chronic stress tends to cause chronic inflammation. It's important to address stressors head-on and eliminate sources of stress in your life.

A 2022 review in the journal Biomedicines examines the relationship between stress and inflammation and states that evidence suggests there is a relationship between inflammation and stress-related disorders, including depression.

Take time out for yourself and incorporate stress-relieving activities into your day, like walking, yoga or meditation. Or maybe higher-intensity exercise or taking an art class is stress-relieving for you.

Some people find meeting with a mental health professional helps get to the root causes of their stress. Since living a stressful life will only increase the time it takes to reduce chronic inflammation, the sooner you can add mental health support, the sooner your body can start calming its inflammatory response.

4. Get Enough Sleep

While we all have busy lives, it's important to make sure we get enough sleep each night. Sleep and our immune system—which controls inflammation—are dependent on one another. When one is out of whack, so is the other.

For example, according to a 2020 study in Frontiers in Neurology, there is a strong association between sleep inconsistency and inflammation.

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, per a 2021 review in Communications Biology.

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

Read More: 8 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat for Better Sleep

5. Support Your Gut

Damage to the gut from things like lack of sleep, stress, and eating too many processed foods can lead to imbalances in the gut flora, which is made up of both good and bad bacteria. Those imbalances can specifically harm the good bacteria that help with digestion and absorption. The good bacteria also help to keep the gut lining healthy and prevent foreign inflammatory bodies from invading our system.

Support and replenish those good bacteria by consuming prebiotic foods. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria and includes foods 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

Staying hydrated in general is important for the body to function as it should—and might even prevent chronic diseases. According to a 2019 review in JCL Insight, not being well-hydrated is associated with higher markers of inflammation and disease, including dementia, heart failure and chronic lung disease.

Besides water, foods with a high-water content can also help keep you hydrated. Watermelon, honeydew melon and cucumbers are some of the fruits and vegetables with a high water content that you might want to 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 help decrease chronic inflammation.

From cinnamon to turmeric and black pepper, many herbs and spices have been associated with lower levels of inflammation, per a 2022 review in Current Obesity Reports, so have fun and experiment with different herbs and spices in your cooking.

9. Cut Down on Processed Foods

Most of the foods we are purchasing at grocery stores have been processed in some form or another. A 2022 study in Public Health Nutrition found strong associations between the consumption of "ultra-processed foods" and inflammatory markers in the body. Ultra-processed foods include "squishy" bleached white flour bread, sausages, cookies, soft drinks and prepackaged foods and meals.

The types of processed foods 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. If you already have chronic inflammation, following this advice will shorten the duration of your inflammatory symptoms. The sooner you're able to get some of these factors under control, the sooner you'll find some relief from the effects of chronic inflammation—and might even prevent chronic disease.

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