Excess inflammation can cause major issues in our bodies and might destroy our efforts toward getting beautiful skin and a fit physique. Our 24/7 workweeks, lack of sleep, and high stress levels can dramatically increase inflammation in the body and leave us looking and feeling completely worn out.
Inflammation isn't always a bad thing. It's part of the body's immune response and it's initially beneficial in the healing process. It helps heal wounds and protects the body from environmental factors. Additionally, an inflammatory response takes place during exercise to help the body adapt.
Inflammation becomes a problem when we are overtaxed and acute inflammation (healthy, necessary) leads to chronic inflammation (where all the problems take place). Chronic inflammation is caused by our lifestyles. If we overexercise, overeat, don't get enough sleep, and live stressful lives, we most likely have excess inflammation. This alone could be sabotaging our health goals. Our first goal should be to reduce inflammation in our bodies so we can focus on everything else. Here's how to do that:
1. Get eight hours of sleep a night.
We've been told to get a good night’s sleep over and over again, but there is actually a chemical response happening inside the body during sleep that is important for reducing inflammation. A study found that sleep duration can have an effect on levels of specific cytokines (proteins important in cell signaling), which are important for regulating inflammation.
2. Don’t overexercise.
We have to give our bodies time to recover in order to see benefits and reduce the inflammation that comes from exercise. Try to switch up your workouts every day so you're not taxing the same muscles, and be sure to take days off. I know it’s hard, but it's worth it!
3. Consume fish oil daily.
Load up on omega-3s. A report from the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity found that consuming more fish oil (omega-3) reduced both anxiety and inflammation. Omega-3s occur naturally in fish such as salmon, tuna, halibut, and more. It's also present in oils — flaxseed, canola, or soybean oils are good choices. Nuts, spinach, and certain beans can also help you meet your omega-3 quota. If you don't eat these foods regularly, you can also take fish-oil supplements, which can be found at health-food stores.
4. Consume ginger and turmeric.
These ancient herbs have been shown to play a significant role in lowering inflammation. I try to incorporate these ingredients into my meals as much as possible. They are great in stir-fries, roasted veggies, and soups.
5. Get cold.
Applying ice or sitting in cold water causes inflammation to go down. If you are applying ice, be sure to put a wrap or towel between the ice and your skin to avoid ice burn. I force myself to sit in cold water for 20 minutes. It is brutal, but it works wonders.
6. Start a meditation practice.
This ancient practice has major benefits, such as reducing cortisol levels. Even if it's just a few minutes of deep breathing, you will begin to change your overall state of mind and significantly reduce stress. The practice of becoming present and deepening your breath calms the mind while reducing inflammation in the body. Start with five minutes a day and work your way up.
7. Hold a few yoga poses.
Meditation and yoga go hand in hand. The deep breathing combined with yoga postures reduces pressure on the joints, improves confidence, and helps to decrease inflammation. Here's a great beginner yoga sequence to help you get started!
Nora Tobin is a NASM-certified personal trainer living in Santa Barbara, California. She is a health and wellness partner to Marriott International’s luxury brands and The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection. Her company hosts luxury retreats, executive summits, and keynotes globally. Nora is also a Performance Enhancement and Nutrition Specialist, yoga instructor, and columnist. She’s received advanced certifications in helicopter, cliff, scuba and ocean rescue. She also hosts daily live yoga classes on her Instagram, open to all levels.