4 Ways to Improve Your Mood (and Health) by Reducing Inflammation
Updated: Aug 28, 2018
Chronic inflammation has been linked to cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's, stroke and many other major diseases, causing experts to call it America's deadliest disease. (1) But it's not just your physical health that's in jeopardy. Inflammation has also been linked with depression and other mood disorders. (2) That's potentially because the various chemical byproducts of of inflammation may affect your mental health.
If you want to improve both your physical health and your mood, it’s time to reign in chronic inflammation through a holistic approach to food, nutrition and lifestyle.
1. Eat to Combat Inflammation
According to Harvard Medical School, there are specific foods that combat inflammation, and common foods that provoke inflammation. (3) The good news is that many of the pro-inflammation foods are also foods that you should generally avoid for overall health, so shifting your diet towards this focus will achieve immediate health results that you’ll notice day to day.
To start, reduce processed, Western foods that provoke inflammation in your system. This includes refined carbohydrates, sugar, red meat and margarine.
A side benefit is that weight gain also increases your risks of inflammation, and these pro-inflammation foods are often linked with a greater chance of obesity.
Next, as you swap out foods that cause inflammation, swap in foods that combat inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods include kale and other dark green, leafy vegetables; nuts, such as walnuts and almonds; colorful fruits, including blueberries and strawberries; and omega-3 rich fish, such as tuna and salmon.
2. Stay Hydrated
Toxins in your daily life are a big factor in inflammation. Example toxins include air pollution, chemical fumes from household furniture or paint, and pesticides.
While you absorb a lot of toxins throughout your day, your liver does an amazing job of flushing out these toxins. Hydration is one way to keep your internal detox systems running smoothly and rid yourself of toxic buildup.
Besides supporting liver health, healthy hydration also helps eliminate toxins through your bowel movements and your perspiration.
Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water daily. If you have a hard time drinking plain water, try flavoring it with herbs, fruit or a squeeze of lemon juice. One of the best ways to know if you’re staying hydrated is checking the toilet after you’ve gone to the bathroom. If your urine runs clear, you’re hydrated!
3. Practice Mindfulness
Chronic stress inflames your body, and releases pro-inflammation stress hormones such as cortisol. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation and yoga, can help to ease our stress and reduce inflammation caused by our emotional response system.
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4. Move a Little
The U.S. Department of Health recommends that we get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. This isn’t just to keep us strong and energized. Regular physical movement reduces inflammation, improves circulation, and keeps our detox systems in top shape.
You don’t necessarily have to go to the gym. Even everyday movements like cleaning the house or walking the dog counts!