Inflammation is a buzzword that we hear over and over (and over!) again. And it makes sense! Inflammation can cause a host of different symptoms — like joint pain, headaches, and skin rashes — and contributes to dozens of diseases, anything from depression to psoriasis to heart disease.
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation is actually a perfectly normal bodily response, designed to kick into gear when we are exposed to germs or an injury. For example, healthy inflammation looks like mucus production when you’re sick, which helps you expel whatever virus or bacteria you’ve come into contact with. It can also look like swelling, redness, and pain when you twist an ankle, which is a result of healing blood cells rushing to the area to help.
Inflammation only becomes detrimental when it becomes chronic or spins out of control. And unfortunately, factors like chemicals in our environment, poor sleep, chronic stress, a poor diet, and sedentary lifestyle can trigger our inflammatory response to jump into gear for no good reason, which can sabotage our health and well-being.
So, what can we do to quell chronic inflammation? Luckily, there are a ton of anti-inflammatory practices you can do throughout the day to help your body keep your inflammation level in a healthy place. Here are 25 ways to fight inflammation today:
1. Do some yoga
Yoga is a tried and true method for decreasing stress. Start with these 3 yoga poses to fight chronic inflammation.
2. Don’t eat on-the-go
Our ability to digest food and absorb nutrients is key for fending off inflammation. And according to May Zhu, MBA, RD, LDN, and founder of Nutrition Happens, when we eat in a hurry or on the go, we’re more likely to experience abdominal pain or GI discomfort. “If you struggle with this, try setting aside a specific time to sit down and eat without distractions and take a deep breath before eating and see if you notice a difference,” she says.
3. Start your day with a green smoothie
Starting your day with a healthy green smoothie can fuel your body and help fight inflammation by providing it with phytonutrients and fiber, which are found in leafy greens like kale and spinach.
4. Add collagen to your smoothie
If you want to support your body’s healthy response to inflammation, try adding a scoop of Youtheory® Collagen Powder to the blender in the morning. Taking collagen has been shown to not only promote healthy collagen production throughout the body, but new and emerging science suggests it also supports a healthy inflammation response.
5. Get chilly
“Cold exposure via an ice bath or cryotherapy is great for fighting inflammation,” says Mary Spirito, a health coach and the founder of Ritual and Routine. How? Extreme cold fends off inflammation because it changes the way blood and other fluids flow through your body by causing your blood vessels to restrict and then open back up. When they do, they can flush inflammation-causing metabolic waste out of the body more efficiently. If ice baths and cryotherapy sound a little too extreme, you can also try a cold shower, which will provide a lot of the same benefits!
6. Try the 4-7-8 breath
The 4-7-8 breath is incredibly simple (but also incredibly effective!) way to decrease stress and calm anxiety. All you have to do is inhale for four seconds, hold your inhale for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds.
Read more: 10 Small Ways to Change a Bad Mood Fast
7. Replace refined sugar
Refined sugar means anything with white table sugar, including cookies, cereals, and other sweets. According to celebrity nutritionist Rashi Chowdhary, “Refined table sugar has no essential nutrients and contributes to insulin resistance, cravings, inflammation, ageing, and bad gut bacteria.” So what should you eat instead? Fruit is one of the best sources of natural sugar and Chowdhary also recommends raw, unrefined honey and manuka honey, which “have a lot of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes.”
If you’re wondering what the heck “turning inward” means, you’re not alone. It basically means doing an internal check-in with your emotions and brain. One of the best ways to do this is meditation, which you can start doing with the help of an app like Calm or Headspace.
More chill out tips: 5 Ways to Chill Out When You Only Have 10 Minutes
9. Mind your gut health
According to Dr. Marvin Singh, an integrative medicine physician and gastroenterologist, if you want to fend off inflammation “always consider the impact something might have on your gut microbiome before you do it.” As he explains it, this includes “foods you eat, how much sleep you get, how you react (versus respond) to things, how much time you give yourself for self-care, how well you avoid toxins in products you use and in your environment, and how much time you give to laughing and enjoying life with friends and family.”
Get gut health support: 8 Ways to Improve Gut Health That Aren’t Probiotics
10. Cut down on sugar
“When cortisol levels surge, they start imbalancing your insulin production. And when insulin starts rising, that causes inflammation,” says Dr. Bindiya Gandhi, an integrative and functional medicine family doctor in Atlanta. If you want to prevent this snowball effect from occurring, you can tackle it from both directions by working to decrease stress but also by cutting down on sugar, which helps keep your insulin production healthy and balanced.
Trying to Limit Sugar? These 5 Surprising High-Sugar Health Foods Are Good Place to Begin
11. Eat chia seeds for breakfast
Chia seeds are full of beneficial fiber and also minerals, protein, and healthy fats. As Liz Moody, healthy recipe developer and author of Healthier Together writes on her blog: “Chia seeds are one of those trendy superfoods that actually live up to their hype.” Basically, they’re an inflammation-fighting superfood. If you’re not just how to use chia seeds in the kitchen, try this Simple Chia Seed Pudding for breakfast; or, opt for Moody’s decadent Strawberries and Cream Chia Pudding.
12. Prioritize good sleep
If you want healthy inflammation levels, good sleep is an absolute must. Just one night of poor sleep can disrupt your gut health, your energy levels, and your stress response. To prioritize sleep, turn off all your electronic devices at least 30 minutes before you plan to shut off the lights. You’ll know you’ve gotten a great night of sleep when you wake up feeling like you can take on the day, your mind is sharp, and you don’t need to rely on caffeine or sugar to make it through the 3 p.m. slump.
Why Your Sleep is Off: 10 Real Life Ways to Fix It
13. Set boundaries
Lack of sleep is a sure fire way to trigger inflammation. Studies have shown that sleep deprivation can trigger inflammatory mediators in the body, called cytokines. Luckily, one of the best ways to safeguard sleep is to set boundaries with technology. You can do this by turning off unnecessary notifications and setting time limits on certain apps. Instead, reserve at least an hour of “wind down” time where you read, journal, or take a bath.
14. Make fish for dinner
Fish is chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids, which are famous for their anti-inflammatory properties (they’re even used to protect cardiovascular health). Here are 5 easy and clean ways to make salmon for dinner.
15. Do a gentle workout
HIIT workouts and long runs are amazing, but if you do them too often or for too long, they can actually backfire and cause inflammation in the body. If you’ve been hitting the gym hard and feel like you never — *quite* — recover from your workouts, try pilates, swimming, or a long walk today and see how your body feels tomorrow. Doing something gentle and low-impact may actually benefit your fitness goals in the long-run.
Do it from home: 8 Awesome Streaming Workouts to Sweat to at Home
16. Take a probiotic
As Dr. Singh explains, “the gut microbiome is the majority shareholder in the immune system.” And funny enough, the immune system is what determines our levels of inflammation. By taking steps to protect the gut, like taking a probiotic, “we can influence the composition of our gut microbiome; and by doing this, we can influence its impact and how inflammation is modulated,” says Dr. Singh. To get started on a probiotic, try Spore Probiotic Powder from Youtheory.
17. Try foam rolling
Most of us aren’t getting a massage on a regular basis, but you can get a lot of the same benefits — like muscle relaxation, stress relief, and less pain and inflammation — from foam rolling at home for 5 or 10 minutes. As Maya Jocelyn, founder of the Brooklyn-based holistic health center Studio Maya, told Vogue: “It’s extremely efficient in that you can use your body weight to create pressure and give yourself a substantial massage, accessing parts of your body that you can’t reach with your hands.” The best part? A foam roller is insanely cheap and easy to use. Plus, “You can address your whole body in 10 minutes,” she continued.
18. Take it easy on the alcohol
Alcohol is famous for causing unnecessary inflammation in the body. If you want to decrease your inflammatory burden on the body today, try swapping a glass of wine or beer for an herbal tea or mocktail, like this Ginger-Beet Mocktail.
19. Take turmeric
When it comes to supporting healthy inflammation, there’s perhaps no herb more powerful than turmeric. Try new Youtheory® Turmeric Powder, featuring TurmiPure GOLD®. This clinically-studied turmeric is 10x more concentrated than standard powders and 24x more bioavailable than standard extracts. In fact, a small 300 mg dose delivers as many curcuminoids to the bloodstream as nearly 2,000 mg of turmeric extract, so you get big results from a small dose. It has a great tasting tropical flavor and mixes instantly in water. According to Mary Spirito, “You can also juice the root of fresh turmeric. “Just make sure that you’re activating it with a fat source like coconut milk and adding black pepper so your body can fully absorb it,” she says.
More on turmeric: What Turmeric Really Does For Inflammation
20. Take an Epsom salt bath
Magnesium plays an important role in the nervous system and immune system, so it only makes sense that a magnesium sulfate bath would be a good way to decrease inflammation. If you struggle to fit in a bath at night, try taking it in the morning. (Trust us!)
More on magnesium: Magnesium And What It Really Does For Your Total Health
21. Get out into nature
Spending time in nature is one of the simplest things you can do to support health inflammation levels. In fact, a study showed that exposure to green space reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. (Yes, really!) So today, take a few minutes to walk the beach, take a walk in the neighborhood, or even just start out the window at the trees or flowers outside.
22. Try arnica
You’ve probably crossed paths with arnica before. It’s usually sold as a pain relief cream, but it can also be taken internally for inflammation. “Arnica montana is another great way to reduce stress and inflammation,” says Mary Spirito. Arnica is also known as Mountain tobacco, Leopard’s bane, or Wolf’s bane and is a flower that has been used for its medicinal properties for centuries. “You can take it internally; or, if you have inflammation in your muscles or joints, there are also ointments and creams,” she continues.
23. Say no to processed foods
Processed foods, especially those that have inflammatory oils (like corn, safflower, sunflower, soy and vegetable oil) in them, are known for exasperating inflammation due to their high levels of omega-6 fatty acids. Instead, opt for these healthy oils, which — thanks to their high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids — actually work to decrease inflammation instead of create it.
Give yourself a break: 5 Ways to Turn Things Around When You’re Having the Worst Eating Day Ever
24. Try CBD
CBD, one of the main therapeutic compounds found in the hemp plant, is quickly gaining fame for its anti-inflammatory properties and luckily, you have a ton of products to choose from. All you have to do is narrow it down depending on your lifestyle and your health goals.
Read more: 10 Cool Ways to Try CBD
Laughing with friends, at a comedy special, or while playing with your pet or kid is a great way to signal to the body that it doesn’t need to be stressed or inflamed. Today, try to carve out some time to play and have fun — your body will thank you!
Fighting inflammation can feel like a full time job, but rest assured — you don’t have to do all 25 of these inflammation fighting tips every single day. Keeping your inflammation levels in check is about doing a few small things every day and letting the benefits build over time.