Inflammation is a part of life, and it can be a really good thing. It helps you heal from colds, illnesses, bumps, cuts, and more.
But too much inflammation, such as when it flares up when there’s no need for it, is dangerous. And it happens to a lot of people. Called “chronic” inflammation, this type of inflammation sets the immune system into motion almost constantly.
Chronic inflammation is associated with a host of chronic health conditions, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, but age is also a factor. Chronic low-grade inflammation can occur naturally in some older bodies, particularly if the person is carrying extra fat around the waistline.
Fat cells generate inflammatory compounds, and the more fat you’re carrying, the more inflammation a person is likely to experience in their body.
Although some amount of age-related inflammation might be inevitable, you can still do many things to keep it under control.
Working yourself to a healthy weight can help. When you shrink your fat cells, they can’t generate as many inflammatory compounds. One study suggested that losing just 5 to 10 percent of total weight can lead to a significant drop in inflammatory hormones.
Assessing your diet can also help reduce inflammation. Prioritizing colorful fruits and vegetables, limiting processed foods and sugary sodas, and including more fish in your diet can help with inflammation reduction.
Activity can also help lower inflammation. One study shows that as little as 20 minutes of fast walking can be enough to lower inflammatory markers in the body. Virtually any type of movement will work, and doing it for at least 30 minutes a day, five days per week is even better.
Stress management and good sleep can keep inflammation under control as well. Stress and inconsistent sleep are both associated with higher levels of inflammatory hormones, so getting a handle on those can help.
Techniques to manage stress include mindfulness, meditation, exercise, yoga, or hobbies such as knitting, gardening, and crafting. Gratitude is a great antidote to stress, so it’s worth reflecting on what’s right in your life to counter stress-inducing thoughts about problems. You can work on sleep by setting consistent sleep and wake times, avoiding eating too close to bedtime, limiting evening alcohol, and making your bedroom a relaxing place.
Mat Lecompte is a health and wellness journalist. This article was first published on BelMarraHealth.com.