We have been hearing more and more about inflammation. It increases as we age but the good news is that we can do something about it. What is it, why does it matter and how do we prevent or reduce it?
What is it? There are two types of inflammation – acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is what happens after an injury, such as a cut and is a temporary way for the body to heal itself. We are more concerned with chronic inflammation, which is when the body sends inflammatory cells and substances even when there is not an infection or injury.
Why does it matter? Chronic inflammation is the cause of over half of worldwide deaths and is linked to the following diseases including: cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, stroke and diabetes.
How do we prevent or reduce it? The good news is that there are many already healthy lifestyle changes that we can make to prevent or reduce chronic inflammation.
- Achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
- Avoid smoking or quit if you currently smoke.
- Get 7-9 hours of high quality sleep per night.
- Exercise most days of the week in order to achieve 150 minutes/week of moderate-intensity activity, such as brisk walking.
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than 2 ounces per day.
- Manage stress by engaging in relaxation activities such as meditation, yoga or mindful breathing exercises.
- Follow the Mediterranean Eating Pattern by eating fatty fish such as salmon, fruits and vegetables and olive oil.
- Limit intake of fried foods, highly processed meats such as bacon, sausage and most deli meat, and refined carbohydrates with high amounts of added sugar such as doughnuts, white bread and white pasta.