Is your body doing the slow (invisible) burn that fires up cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and brain drain and even increases wrinkles and hurts your sex life?
You cant really feel inflammation until its damage is obvious, but the answer could be yes if youve got a wide waistline, a stressed-out schedule, a taste for fast and processed foods or a neglected container of dental floss in your bathroom.
If youre mumbling, Yikes, thats me! dont panic ... yet. Its true that inflammation makes cancer-stopping genes (you have em) impotent, leading to the development of new cancer; plus, it fuels existing small cancers and the buildup of heart-menacing plaque in arteries. But you can turn off inflammation.
Inflammation is an immune-system reaction to protect your body by getting the warriors of the immune system (your T-cells) marching off to war against invading disease-causing bugs and other cell-damaging intruders. But excess body fat, stress, foods like sugars and bad fats, simmering infections or even more candles on your birthday cake can cause the immune system to boost inflammation and keep it boosted.
As a result, your bloodstream gets overloaded with inflammatory chemicals that can do serious damage.
Drugs, such as lousy-LDL-cholesterol-lowering statins, cool off inflammation. And so can behavior like being active, quitting smoking, avoiding secondhand smoke, getting a flu shot and losing belly fat.
But dont stop there. Here are five feel-good, drug-free strategies proven to douse inflammations slow burn:
- Dive into a bowl of berries, cherries or both. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and cranberries contain polyphenols that shut down inflammatory signals triggered by chemicals in your body.
- Pair citrus and dark chocolate. Flavonones in oranges and grapefruit can reduce inflammation enough to help lower your risk of stroke by 19 percent. A few bites of very dark chocolate (70 percent cocoa thats low in added sugar) can chill out the fire within, too.
- Grill salmon or trout, or pop some walnuts, and take a supplement. Regularly getting good omega-3 fats (in fish and supplements) can reduce inflammation levels by 10 percent or more. And the omega-9s in olive oil also cool inflammation. If youre not eating fish at least twice a week (and even if you are), we recommend taking 600 milligrams of DHA omega-3 fatty acids daily (900 mg for age 50 or older) and, based on incoming data, maybe 420 mg of omega-7 daily, too.
- Chill out with meditation. Sit in a comfortable chair in a quiet room, close your eyes, follow your breath in, out, in, out as you tense and relax each body part from toe to head.
- Upgrade your smile. Gingivitis, gum disease that leads to inflammation, starts simmering within days when you take a break from flossing. Floss every day, and see your dental professional regularly to maintain a sexy, healthy smile.
The You Docs Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show and Mike Roizen of Cleveland Clinic are authors of YOU: Losing Weight. To submit questions, go to www.RealAge.com. A King Features syndicate.