Senior Health

7/26/2022 | By Christine Yu

Inflammation is part of your body’s natural defenses – when a cut swells up and turns red, that’s inflammation at work healing you. But when inflammation goes into overdrive, sparked by factors like poor diet and smoking, it can cause a host of health problems including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and even depression. But how can you reduce inflammatory markers in the body? Try these strategies for reducing inflammation.

Strategies for reducing inflammation

1. Try turmeric.

Turmeric is having a moment, thanks largely to curcumin – a compound that gives the sunny spice its anti-inflammatory powers. According to a recent review, curcumin reduces the production of a protein that makes your immune system work overtime. These studies used high doses of curcumin (up to 1,500 milligrams/day), so it may be worth asking your doctor about supplements. You may not be able to get that much from food (5 teaspoons ground turmeric or 2 ounces fresh has 500 mg of curcumin). But the spice’s anti-inflammatory potential is still a good reason to sprinkle it liberally on roasted veggies or sip those trendy golden lattes. What’s better than reducing inflammation with tasty foods?!

Related: 10 herbs and spices with health benefits

2. Eat your reds, blues, and purples, too.

Speaking of color, green isn’t the only one that’s good for you. Women who regularly consume roughly 40 mg per day of anthocyanins – the compounds that give produce its deep red and purple hues – have 18% lower levels of C-reactive protein, a measure of inflammatory activity, compared to those who eat minimal amounts of them, U.K. researchers found.

3. Grab a handful of nuts.

People who noshed at least five 1-ounce servings of peanuts, almonds, walnuts, or cashews each week had lower levels of inflammatory biomarkers compared to those who didn’t eat them regularly, found a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Nuts’ anti-inflammatory effects are due to their combo of fiber, antioxidants and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

Related: 4 healthy nuts to include in your diet

4. Get more exercise.

Obesity – or even just an expanding waistline – is a major cause of inflammation. But you can assist your body in reducing inflammation this by amping up your activity. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise found that the least-sedentary people had the lowest inflammation, even if they didn’t lose weight. While they got about 2 1/2 hours of moderate-to-vigorous activity per day, it included regular life activities like yardwork and household chores. Even a small increase in activity tames the flames compared to being totally couch-bound.

5. Get enough sleep.

It may be more than just a lack of sleep that causes inflammatory problems. How you behave when you’re tired may be what’s stoking the flames. In a study from The Ohio State University, inflammation shot up when sleep-deprived couples started squabbling. When faced with a conflict, partners’ inflammatory markers jumped 6% for every hour of sleep they lost below seven hours. Inadequate rest may make you more sensitive to stress, which in turn causes inflammation. The good news: Using healthy conflict-resolution strategies protected both partners and helped in reducing inflammation.

A clear glass mug with green tea. Try these tips for reducing inflammation, taming inflammatory markers that cause heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, cancer, and depression.

6. Drink green tea.

Even if coffee is your beverage of choice, you might not want to bag tea altogether – especially the green variety. Green tea is full of potent antioxidants that can help in reducing inflammation. In fact, researchers from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock found that green tea can inhibit oxidative stress and the potential inflammation that may result from it. “After 24 weeks, people who consumed 500 mg of green tea polyphenols daily – that’s about 4 to 6 cups of tea – halved their oxidative stress levels,” says Leslie Shen, Ph.D., the study’s lead author.

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Christine Yu