Exercise is a powerful anti-inflammatory, but it's not the only tool. Combine a regular fitness routine with the following guidelines to boost your body's innate ability to stay balanced.
1. Upgrade Your Diet
Consume more omega-3 fatty acids (found in cold-water fish such as mackerel, wild salmon, and sardines, as well as in flaxseeds and walnuts); fiber in sources like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables; spices such as ginger and turmeric; and green tea.
2. Breathe Deep
Set aside small blocks of time throughout your day to take long, deep breaths with your arms folded across your belly. This way you can feel your arms rising with each breath -- an indication that you're breathing from deep in your abdomen.
3. Reduce Stress
"When you take conscious steps to reduce stress, it works on a cellular level to reduce the inflammatory response," says Mark Hyman, M.D. Pursue a formal stress-reduction practice such as yoga or meditation, or simply prioritize soothing activities such as gardening, knitting, or playing with your pet.
4. Drink More Water
Pour yourself a glass of filtered water instead of reaching for a diet soda or cup of coffee loaded with cream and sugar. "Sugary fruit juices, caffeinated beverages, and dairy products promote a glycemic response that, if not controlled, can lead to chronic inflammation," says James Nicolai, M.D.
5. Sleep Well
Your brain, your immune system repairs itself as you sleep. When you don't sleep well, the immune system never has a chance to relax, which, in turn, only feeds systemic inflammation. Go to bed at the same time each night, following a relaxing pre-sleep ritual (such as taking a bath), and make your bedroom as peaceful as possible -- that means no TV, computer, phone, or LED lights.
6. Feed Your Soul
"Feeling emotionally connected to others and passion about something have been linked with lower CRP levels," explains Mark Liponis, M.D., corporate medical director of the Canyon Ranch health resort and author of "Ultra-Longevity." Make the time to focus on developing lasting relationships, or even just appreciate a stunning sunset.
Text by Kate Handley