8 of the Best Inflammation-Fighting Tips We Learned All Year

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If you're a regular Well+Good reader, you know inflammation is something we ask medical doctors and experts about a lot. New here? Inflammation is the body’s natural process of fighting against things that harm it, such as infections, illnesses, injuries, and toxins in an attempt to heal itself. Inflammation isn't inherently a bad thing—but when it becomes chronic, it can lead to health conditions as diverse as acne, cancer, and cognitive decline.

It's because chronic inflammation is the root cause of nearly all health woes that we ask experts about it so often. And in the process, we've learned a lot. So we're sharing the knowledge with you, dear reader, so you can act on this life-promoting advice. Rounded up here are 10 of the best inflammation-fighting tips we learned this year. Each tip links to full articles, just in case you want to do a deeper dive.

Keep reading to see the 10 best inflammation-fighting tips we learned in 2020.

1. Caffeine could protect the body from inflammation—depending on the person and source

Does your morning cup of coffee protect against inflammation? Doctors tell us that the answer is complicated. Some studies connect caffeine to protecting against chronic health conditions, but how quickly you metabolize caffeine and underlying health conditions also matter. The source matters too. For example, some caffeinated teas, like green or black, are widely accepted by the scientific community to reduce inflammation, but an energy drink can't boast the same.

Read more: Does Caffeine Cause Inflammation? It’s Complicated

2. Dairy causes inflammation in some, but not all

There's a popular belief in the wellness world that dairy is a highly inflammatory food group, but the truth is less cut and dry. Experts tell us (and scientific studies show) that dairy only causes inflammation in those with an allergy or intolerance.

Read more: Does Dairy Really Cause Inflammation? It’s Complicated

3. Meditate daily to combat inflammation

Fighting inflammation extends beyond food. Making a habit of meditating just 10 minutes daily has been shown to reduce inflammation in the body. This is because it helps lower cortisol levels (aka the stress hormone), which plays a regulatory role in the immune system. When cortisol levels remain at high levels, it can cause...you guessed it, inflammation.

Read more: The 10-Minute Wellness Habit That Fights Inflammation

4. Exercising for 20 to 30 minutes a few times a week fights inflammation, too

Another way to protect the body from inflammation that doesn't have to do with food is by exercising regularly, and it really doesn't take super long workouts to get the benefits. A preventive medicine doctor tells us that just 20 to 30 minutes a few times a week is enough to make an impact.

Read more: Does Exercise Reduce Inflammation? Here’s What a Preventive Medicine Doc Says

5. Cinnamon is a sweet inflammation fighter (literally)

There's a lot of herbs in your pantry that are linked to lowering inflammation, but cinnamon is one that tends to be overlooked. Its high antioxidant content is especially good for your heart. Who says you have to choose between something sweet and something anti-inflammatory?

Read more: 5 Cinnamon Drinks That Work As a Delicious Way To Combat Inflammation 

6. Use the inflammation index to pinpoint the best anti-inflammatory foods

When we heard about a nutritional epidemiologist who created an inflammation index of the most popular foods, we had to call her up to learn more. Spoiler: leafy greens, tomatoes, apples and berries, deep yellow or orange vegetables, nuts, legumes, and fish are all linked to lowering the risk for inflammation. Added sugar, on the other hand, has one of the highest inflammation scores.

Read more: This New Inflammation Index Shows Just How Healthy Your Favorite Foods Are

7. Turmeric isn't the only anti-inflammatory ingredient to love

While, yes, turmeric is powerfully linked to lowering inflammation, it's certainly not the end all be all. In the video above, a registered dietitian shares other foods worth working into your diet including berries, Brussels sprouts, and mushrooms. And if you're looking for another supplement to try, consider the plant compound quercetin, which is anti-inflammatory and linked to potential anti-aging benefits.

Read more: The Underrated Anti-Inflammatory Nutrient That Will Help You Live Longer, According to a Functional Medicine Doctor

8. How you recover from your workouts can impact inflammation

Sore muscles are a sign of acute inflammation. In the short-term, this is NBD, but left untreated, it's bad news for your body. This is exactly why workout recovery matters. Moderate exercise is great for warding off chronic inflammation, but if you go hard on a regular basis, your body needs a little love too.

Read more: 8 Ways To Use Your Workout and Recovery Routine To Reduce Inflammation

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