hands with a cup of tea near the belly on a green backgroundWe have an immune system for a reason. It helps us fight off infectious diseases and heal from injuries. But for a lot of us, our immune system “on” and “off” switches appear to be malfunctioning. When your immune system is “on” all the time, due to various stress factors, it leads to chronic inflammation in the body. And since chronic inflammation is linked to the development of various diseases like Type 2 diabetes and cancer, one of the best things we can do for our bodies is to reduce inflammation.

Dietary changes. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, while Omega-6 acids can exacerbate the problem. Eat more foods high in Omega-3 acids, like salmon, avocado, walnuts, flax, and chia seeds. Eat less refined vegetable oils and other seeds and nuts.

Certain spices can also help to reduce inflammation in the body. Add turmeric, garlic, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and ginger to your diet whenever possible.

Reduce free radical damage by eating foods rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. This includes green tea, broccoli, kale, berries, and so on. Think brightly-colored fruits and veggies!

Exercise. Exercise actually helps cells release a burst of anti-inflammatory proteins. Try to engage in moderate exercise for at least half an hour, several times per week. Daily exercise is even better, provided you don’t overdo it and increase your risk of injury.

Stress. Cortisol, the “stress hormone” triggers your immune system. When you’re chronically stressed, your immune system remains on high alert all of the time, leading to chronic inflammation in the body. Take the necessary steps to reduce stress, such as meditating, taking a yoga class, reducing your workload or getting time alone. Remember, you’re doing this for your health, so it isn’t selfish to reclaim some of your own time and energy.

Sleep. Sleep deprivation can also trigger cortisol (and it can also lead to weight gain). Make sure you’re getting a full 8 hours of sleep each night.

As a bonus, taking these measures will also help you lose weight, and can boost your body’s ability to repair itself. That means healthier, glowing skin and more energy! So take the above steps to reduce inflammation, and you should notice a big difference in your health.