Inflammation is a part of life, and it can be a really good thing. It helps you heal from colds and other illnesses, bumps, cuts, and more.
But too much inflammation, like when it flares up when there is no need to, is dangerous. And it happens to a lot of people. Called “chronic” inflammation, this type sets the immune system into motion almost constantly.
Chronic inflammation is associated with a host of chronic health conditions like heart disease and type-2 diabetes, but age is also a factor. Chronic low-grade inflammation can occur naturally in some older bodies, particularly if the person is carrying extra fat around the waistline.
Fat cells generate inflammatory compounds, and the more fat you’re carrying, the more inflammation a person is likely to experience in their body.
Although some amount of age-related inflammation might be inevitable, you can still do a lot of things to keep it under control.
Trying to work yourself to a healthy weight can help. When you shrink your fat cells, they can’t generate as many inflammatory compounds. One study suggested that losing just five to ten percent of total weight can lead to a significant drop in inflammatory hormones.
Assessing your diet can also help reduce inflammation. Prioritizing colorful fruits and vegetables, limiting processed foods and sugary sodas, and including more fish in your diet can help.
Activity can also help lower inflammation. One study showed that as little as 20 minutes of fast walking can be enough to lower inflammatory markers in the body. Virtually any type of movement will work, and doing it for at least 30 minutes five days per week is even better.
Stress management and good sleep can also keep inflammation under control. Stress and inconsistent sleep are both associated with higher levels of inflammatory hormones, so getting a handle on those can help.
Techniques to manage stress include mindfulness meditation, exercise, yoga, or other forms of meditation. You can work on sleep by setting consistent sleep and wake times, avoiding eating too close to bed, limiting evening alcohol, and making your bedroom a relaxing place.