10 TACTICS TO TAME INFLAMMATION
Posted On Dec 14, 2020
BY CATHERINE WINTERS
Avoid cigarette smoke.
According to the United States Surgeon General, chemicals in cigarette smoke can inflame not only the linings of the lungs but also the blood vessels.
Watch the alcohol.
A study published in The European Heart Journal found that consuming moderate amounts of wine or beer is associated with lower levels of several markers of inflammation.
“Exposure to any product of combustion can increase the risk of heart attack,” says Dr. Meggs, noting that even the tiniest of particles in vehicle exhaust are capable of causing inflammation of the arteries. Dr. Myers notes there’s lots you can do at home, such as running a HEPA air purifier to reduce indoor air pollutants and removing contaminants from the water you shower in and drink, using shower and water filters.
Mind the gluten.
A protein found in rye, barley, and wheat, gluten can cause a “leaky gut.” This occurs when tight junctions in the intestinal lining break apart and particles of undigested food, toxins, and more slip into the bloodstream. “Our body perceives these particles as foreigners and attacks,” says Dr. Amy Myers. That can trigger inflammatory responses such as irritable bowel syndrome (an autoimmune disease), depression, acne, or eczema.
“There’s a reason people in Mediterranean countries have lower rates of heart disease. The diet emphasizes a daily intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, or seeds; fish and seafood; olive oil as a prime fat source; low to moderate amounts of cheese and yogurt; and wine in moderation. One recent study found that people who closely followed such a diet had, on average, 20 percent lower levels of CRP (C-Reactive Protein) and 17 percent lower levels of another main marker (IL-6) for inflammation.
“The benefits of exercise are phenomenal,” says Dr. Meggs. A pilot study published in the journal Circulation found that the more fit middle-aged women were, the lower their CRP levels. Resistance or strength training is also known to tame inflammation. Researchers from Texas Christian University found that 12 weeks of such training lowered levels of CRP by 33 percent in obese women, ages 60 to 70, who had not exercised regularly during the previous six months.
Lonely seniors are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease—associated with inflammation—which may lead to earlier death. Mindfulness-based meditation may be the antidote. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh solicited people, 55 to 85, to attend eight weekly two-hour meditation sessions and to practice 30 minutes a day. They were less lonely and had lower levels of CRP.
In one study, overweight and obese post-menopausal women who lost weight reduced levels of three key markers of inflammation related to cancer. Women either cut calories to 1,200 to 2,000 per day or did 225 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per week. Another group did a combination of the two. After a year, dieters who lost at least five percent of their body weight lowered CRP levels by 36 percent. The diet-plus-exercise group lowered theirs by 42 percent.
Get more fiber.
Fiber is associated with less inflammation. Women need 25 grams per day; men need 38 grams per day.
Don’t skimp on sleep.
People who average six or fewer hours of sleep per night have higher levels of three markers of inflammation, including CRP, according to researchers at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. The average CRP levels are approximately 25 percent higher in people who get fewer than six hours of sleep than in people who get six to nine hours per night.