Basics Of An Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle
Inflammation underlies many acute and chronic conditions in both children and adults. Integrative treatment of inflammatory conditions involves reducing systemic inflammation through diet and lifestyle.
Some of the most important factors to consider when making lifestyle changes to improve inflammation include: diet, sleep, exercise, time in nature, stress, digestion, social interaction, and hormone balance. These factors are all interrelated in ways that science is still working to understand.
Lifestyle Factors That Influence Inflammation
Diet, Microbiome, Immune Balance & Digestion
What we eat and how well we digest it affects the inflammatory balance of the body. This likely occurs due to anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory molecules that we eat and through the interaction of dietary fiber with the intestinal microbiome. The health of the intestinal microbiome influences hormone, nutrition, gene expression, and immune balance.
Sleep disturbance is associated with increased inflammation and so is acute and chronic stress. Sleep and stress are intimately linked and improving one often improves the other. When sleep and stress are out of imbalance, cortisol, the body’s most important anti-inflammatory hormone, becomes imbalanced and widespread inflammation may occur. Other hormones including melatonin, vitamin D, sex hormones, and thyroid hormones also play a role. Good liver and gut health are essential for optimal hormone and inflammatory balance.
Exercise, Air Quality, & Time In Nature
Both exercise and time in nature are known to improve sleep, stress, hormones, and inflammatory balance. Exercise and time in nature can be helpful together or separately. However, when outdoor air pollution is bad, exercising outdoors can worsen airway inflammation. On these days, indoor exercise is preferred.
A healthy social network is important for both mental and physical health. Healthy social connections can help reduce stress, while unhealthy social connections can be a source of significant stress. Inflammation and social isolation have a complex relationship. It appears that social isolation may worsen inflammation and that inflammation may worsen social isolation.
Managing systemic inflammation is an important part of the integrative treatment of many acute and chronic conditions. Diet plays a foundational role, but there are other factors to consider including diet, microbiome, digestion, sleep, stress, hormone balance, immune balance, exercise, time in nature, social interactions, and more.
Irwin, M. R., Olmstead, R., & Carroll, J. E. (2016). Sleep Disturbance, Sleep Duration, and Inflammation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies and Experimental Sleep Deprivation. Biological psychiatry, 80(1), 40–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2015.05.014
Dolsen, M. R., Crosswell, A. D., & Prather, A. A. (2019). Links Between Stress, Sleep, and Inflammation: Are there Sex Differences?. Current psychiatry reports, 21(2), 8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-019-0993-4
Eisenberger, N. I., Moieni, M., Inagaki, T. K., Muscatell, K. A., & Irwin, M. R. (2017). In Sickness and in Health: The Co-Regulation of Inflammation and Social Behavior. Neuropsychopharmacology : official publication of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, 42(1), 242–253. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2016.141
Slavich, G. M., & Irwin, M. R. (2014). From stress to inflammation and major depressive disorder: a social signal transduction theory of depression. Psychological bulletin, 140(3), 774–815. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0035302
Bikomeye, J. C., Beyer, A. M., Kwarteng, J. L., & Beyer, K. (2022). Greenspace, Inflammation, Cardiovascular Health, and Cancer: A Review and Conceptual Framework for Greenspace in Cardio-Oncology Research. International journal of environmental research and public health, 19(4), 2426. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19042426
Li, J., Zhou, K., Li, X., Liu, M., Dang, S., Wang, D., & Xin, X. (2016). Mediator Effect of Sleep Hygiene Practices on Relationships Between Sleep Quality and Other Sleep-Related Factors in Chinese Mainland University Students. Behavioral sleep medicine, 14(1), 85–99. https://doi.org/10.1080/15402002.2014.954116
Hannibal, K. E., & Bishop, M. D. (2014). Chronic stress, cortisol dysfunction, and pain: a psychoneuroendocrine rationale for stress management in pain rehabilitation. Physical therapy, 94(12), 1816–1825. https://doi.org/10.2522/ptj.20130597
Sladek, M. R., Doane, L. D., & Breitenstein, R. S. (2020). Daily rumination about stress, sleep, and diurnal cortisol activity. Cognition & emotion, 34(2), 188–200. https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2019.1601617
Suzuki K. (2019). Chronic Inflammation as an Immunological Abnormality and Effectiveness of Exercise. Biomolecules, 9(6), 223. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom9060223
Metsios, G. S., Moe, R. H., & Kitas, G. D. (2020). Exercise and inflammation. Best practice & research. Clinical rheumatology, 34(2), 101504. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.berh.2020.101504
Paolucci, E. M., Loukov, D., Bowdish, D., & Heisz, J. J. (2018). Exercise reduces depression and inflammation but intensity matters. Biological psychology, 133, 79–84. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2018.01.015
Saccaro, L. F., Schilliger, Z., Perroud, N., & Piguet, C. (2021). Inflammation, Anxiety, and Stress in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Biomedicines, 9(10), 1313. https://doi.org/10.3390/biomedicines9101313
Prossegger, J., Huber, D., Grafetstätter, C., Pichler, C., Braunschmid, H., Weisböck-Erdheim, R., & Hartl, A. (2019). Winter Exercise Reduces Allergic Airway Inflammation: A Randomized Controlled Study. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(11), 2040. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16112040
Qin, F., Yang, Y., Wang, S. T., Dong, Y. N., Xu, M. X., Wang, Z. W., & Zhao, J. X. (2019). Exercise and air pollutants exposure: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Life sciences, 218, 153–164. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lfs.2018.12.036
Sears B. (2015). Anti-inflammatory Diets. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 34 Suppl 1, 14–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/07315724.2015.1080105
Mancini, A., Di Segni, C., Raimondo, S., Olivieri, G., Silvestrini, A., Meucci, E., & Currò, D. (2016). Thyroid Hormones, Oxidative Stress, and Inflammation. Mediators of inflammation, 2016, 6757154. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/6757154
Filgueiras, M. S., Rocha, N. P., Novaes, J. F., & Bressan, J. (2020). Vitamin D status, oxidative stress, and inflammation in children and adolescents: A systematic review. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition, 60(4), 660–669. https://doi.org/10.1080/10408398.2018.1546671
Pope, C. A., 3rd, Bhatnagar, A., McCracken, J. P., Abplanalp, W., Conklin, D. J., & O’Toole, T. (2016). Exposure to Fine Particulate Air Pollution Is Associated With Endothelial Injury and Systemic Inflammation. Circulation research, 119(11), 1204–1214. https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.116.309279