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Inflammation Calming Secrets That Really Work

Here’s how to manage inflammation, according to doctors.
FACT CHECKED BY Alek Korab

Inflammation is a natural, necessary function of the body—but too much of this good thing can trigger disease processes. "Inflammation in the body is a normal and healthy response to injury or attack by germs," says Andrew Weil, MD. "This is the body's way of getting more nourishment and more immune activity into an area that needs to fend off infection or heal. But inflammation isn't always helpful. It also has great destructive potential, which we see when the immune system mistakenly targets the body's own tissues in (autoimmune) diseases like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus." Here are five inflammation calming secrets that actually work. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Manage Stress

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Research shows that chronic stress interferes with the body's ability to regulate inflammation, so managing stress through exercise, therapy, or meditation is crucial for overall health. "We may not be able to change many of the stressful situations we encounter in life, but we can change our response and perception by learning to manage stress better," says cardiologist James Gray, MD. "It's important to remember also that measures to reduce inflammation pay off over time with improved health and reduced risk of chronic disease."

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2

Lose Weight

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If you're overweight or obese, losing weight can make a huge impact on managing chronic inflammation. "We know from our previous studies that by losing weight, people can reduce their overall levels of inflammation, and there is some evidence suggesting that taking vitamin D supplements can have a similar effect if one has insufficient levels of the nutrient," says Catherine Duggan, Ph.D.

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3

Exercise

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Exercise is a great way to reduce inflammation—research shows that even a small amount can make a difference. "A workout session doesn't actually have to be intense to have anti-inflammatory effects," says Suzi Hong, Ph.D. "Twenty minutes to half-an-hour of moderate exercise, including fast walking, appears to be sufficient. Feeling like a workout needs to be at a peak exertion level for a long duration can intimidate those who suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases and could greatly benefit from physical activity."

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4

Enjoy An Anti-Inflammatory Diet

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Eating a healthy, balanced, nutritious diet is incredibly effective in fighting inflammation. "A vegan or Mediterranean diet — or healthier eating inspired by these diets — can control insulin and cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation — which is the pain culprit," says pain management specialist William Welches, DO, PhD. "Following an anti-inflammatory diet is powerful therapy for pain control with many beneficial side effects. The anti-inflammatory diet is considered an integrative approach to pain management, along with exercise, stress management, osteopathic manipulation therapy and acupuncture."

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5

Get Your Sleep!

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"Scientists still have a lot to learn about the specifics of the relationship between sleep and inflammation. But there's already a strong body of research showing that lack of sleep raises levels of inflammation in the body," says Dr. Michael Breus. "Laboratory studies have tested acute, prolonged sleep deprivation—conditions under which sleep is restricted for 24 hours or more—and found this severe degree of sleep loss increases inflammation activity in the body. Scientists have also studied partial sleep deprivation, the kind of chronic, insufficient sleep that so many people experience in their daily lives. While the study results are mixed, many studies show this form of everyday sleep loss also elevates inflammation." RELATED: The #1 Sign Your Blood Sugar is "Way Too High"

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more
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