As we age, our bodies become more susceptible to chronic inflammation, which is linked to a range of health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to reduce the risk of chronic inflammation and maintain good health well into our 40s and beyond.
To learn exactly how to do just that, we spoke to registered dietitian Susan Schachter, MSRDN. She told us that some of the best steps to take include eating an anti-inflammatory diet, keeping stress at bay, prioritizing sleep, and, when in doubt, taking anti-inflammatory supplements. Learn more about how each of these tips can help below!
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Table of Contents
Eat an anti-inflammatory diet and maintain a healthy weight
Your diet is one of the most important factors of your overall health, and it's especially important when it comes to keeping inflammation at bay. Schachter says you should cut out inflammatory foods and add inflammation-fighting ingredients to the mix.
"Focus on consuming whole, nutrient-dense foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids," she says. "Avoid processed foods, refined sugars, and excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption." Discover some of the worst inflammatory foods here.
Additionally, she notes that it's important to maintain a healthy weight if you want to mitigate the risk of inflammation as much as possible: "Being overweight or obese can contribute to inflammation. Regular exercise and a balanced diet can help maintain a healthy weight."
Manage stress and get enough sleep
It isn't just your diet that you should prioritize if you want to reduce inflammation over 40. As it turns out, your mental health can also play a crucial role; stress can affect your overall health in many ways, and it can even contribute to chronic inflammation.
"Chronic stress can lead to inflammation," Schachter says. "Try to incorporate relaxation techniques like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing into your daily routine."
In addition to (and as part of) managing stress, it's also important to make ample, restful sleep a priority each night. "Lack of sleep can disrupt the body's natural processes and lead to inflammation," Schachter warns. "Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night."
Find some of the best tips for better sleep here.
Consider taking supplements
While making these lifestyle changes is the first thing you should do to reduce your risk of chronic inflammation, there are also supplements that can help provide nutrients to keep the issue at bay.
"Certain supplements like omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, and vitamin D may have anti-inflammatory effects," Schachter says. "Consult with a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your diet."
The bottom line
There are a number of risk factors that can lead to and worsen chronic inflammation, and your best option to lower your own risk is always to speak to a healthcare provider about your specific concerns and needs. However, you can't go wrong by following Schachter's advice and prioritizing a healthy diet, managing stress and sleep, and possibly adding some supplements to the mix. Your body will thank you!