Every place needs an effective, hardworking fire department. Your body is no exception. Under normal circumstances, it’s able to stoke your internal flames and put them out as needed. Inflammation is your immune system’s natural, temporary response to injury and infection — a controlled burn. But abnormal, chronic inflammation is more like an uncontained wildfire, one that can contribute to diseases like diabetes and heart disease. And here’s the thing: Your daily habits can either help to cool or stoke inflammation. Keep your inner fire department in top shape by avoiding tobacco, eating a nourishing diet that’s high in whole plant-based foods and low in processed and fried items, keeping active, and practicing stress management. New research points to a few more specific helpful habits: Go nuts.
Stock up on walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts — and their respective butters (without added sugar and salt). Recent research links five or more weekly servings of nuts (both tree nuts and peanuts) to lower levels of two different biomarkers of inflammation. Replacing a few weekly servings of red or processed meat, eggs, or stripped grains with nuts might be especially protective, according to the study. Get your (genuine) smile on.
Occasional bad moods happen to everyone, but the sustained sadness of depression may increase inflammation, suggests a new study. Other research has linked happiness with lower levels of inflammation. Work closely with a healthcare professional if you feel depressed, and cover your mood-boosting bases with regular exercise, a nourishing diet with lots of plant foods and omega-3-rich fish, social support, and activities that bring you joy. Sleep enough…but not too much.
Time to brush up on the Goldilocks motto. Both inadequate and excessive sleep may contribute to chronic inflammation, so aim to get it just right with about seven to eight hours of good-quality shut-eye.
Sources: Associations between nut consumption and inflammatory biomarkers