How to Manage Chronic Inflammation to Optimize Performance, Wellness, and Longevity

Did you already know that spending 20 minutes in a sizzling sauna 3 times every week generally is a extremely efficient remedy for depression? Randomized medical trials have demonstrated this impact.

In 2019 I and my colleagues offered a scientific analysis assessment titled “The Role of Systemic Inflammation in Major Depressive Disorder and Implications for Novel Treatment Approaches” on the International Society for Affective Disorders annual convention. To summarize: we now have robust empirical proof there may be an immune-mediated part to depression, probably the most widespread and debilitating psychiatric problems we face. Chronic, systematic irritation is a major reason behind depression.

Chronic irritation additionally represents a standard mechanism of illness that contributes to just about each persistent sickness of contemporary life, together with most cancers, coronary heart illness, pulmonary illness, autoimmune problems, inflammatory bowel illness, weight problems, and diabetes.

But let’s again up. What even is persistent, systemic irritation?

Think a couple of time whenever you lower your finger – perhaps a paper lower or a minor kitchen mishap. After the bleeding stopped, you most likely observed the wound turned crimson and swelled up somewhat. This is an instance of acute irritation, our body’s immune response to assist forestall an infection and heal the damage. Over the course of a number of days, as your finger mends, the seen irritation recedes. Such irritation is a part of our immune system’s complicated physiological response to shield the body from pathogens and to help mobile health and tissue restore.

Inflammatory processes can be persistent and systemic – inflammatory proteins circulating via our bloodstream, affecting each cell in our body. When this happens on a protracted foundation, we name it persistent, systemic irritation. We can measure the severity of such a irritation in a lot of methods, mostly by way of blood assessments that quantify ranges of assorted biomarkers, reminiscent of C-reactive protein [CRP], IFN-alpha, IL-6, and IL-10. All of those are correlated with persistent ailments – all of the persistent ailments.

Making issues worse, persistent ailments in flip contribute to inflammatory reactions, and subsequently the connection between illness and irritation is probably bi-directional. In different phrases: a vicious cycle!

Our present understanding of mechanisms of motion means that proinflammatory cytokines cross the blood-brain barrier and affect pathophysiologic domains. This consists of decreased neurotrophic help, diminished mind monoamine ranges, elevated glutamate launch/reuptake, oxidative stress, impaired mind plasticity, and activated neuroendocrine responses.

But why does this occur? And why is it so widespread?

The greatest clarification is that fashionable existence within the industrialized world contribute to irritation by way of behavioral habits (e.g., fashionable diets, sedentary lives, poor sleep routines) and environmental exposures which are incompatible with our evolutionary historical past as a species. 

Among different issues, this features a believable idea that modernity has led to a loss of pure publicity to beforehand out there sources of anti-inflammatory, immunoregulatory signaling (i.e., “germs” or “old friends”) that had been beforehand widespread in our soil, food, and intestine microbiota. (If you need to nerd out, lookup “tolerogenic microorganisms” and the “Pathogen Host Defense” idea).

Anti-Inflammatory Habits to Optimize Performance, Wellness, and Longevity

The excellent news is you virtually actually don’t want any medicines to assist handle persistent systemic irritation. Lifestyle modifications and sure common habits can scale back it. These embrace the next:


A sedentary life-style induces persistent systemic. Conversely, we additionally know that exercise has a robust antidepressant impact, and there may be good cause to imagine a vital side of its mechanism of motion is thru an anti-inflammatory impact.


Sleep dysregulation – insomnia, jet lag, shift work, sleep deprivation – contributes to systemic irritation. Strategies that enhance sleep are helpful to each irritation ranges. Make certain your sleep “hygiene” is dialed in. This means scheduling ample time in mattress, going to mattress on the identical time each night time, and sleeping in a darkish, silent, and cool bed room.

Timing the circadian clock: 

Epidemiological knowledge present that 80% of the overall inhabitants resides a “shift work lifestyle” (e.g., persistent circadian rhythm disruption) and could also be in danger for persistent ailments related to irritation. Strategies that optimize the circadian life-style, timing of therapies, and concentrating on particular circadian parts could also be extremely helpful. Going to mattress on the identical time each night time and getting 5-10 minutes of early morning direct daylight in your eyes can work wonders.

Time-Restricted Feeding (TRF) or Intermittent Fasting: 

Restricting eating to inside a slim window of time (12- or 8-hours, and even much less) daily might provide a variety of health advantages related to diminished irritation, together with weight administration and improved temper and cognition. In a research performed with mice, it was discovered that TRF (10-hour feeding window) prevented weight problems and metabolic syndrome even when mice had been allowed to eat the identical variety of energy that prompted different mice (non-TRF) to quickly acquire weight. A TRF strategy in people might have the same profit and improve mobile defenses in opposition to metabolic stress. It can be most likely extra in line with the feeding sample of our ancestors.


Eating a complete meals food plan (e.g., a Mediterranean or Ketogenic food plan) that minimizes added sugar, processed meals, alcohol, and refined grains – and maximizes healthy fat, high quality proteins, fiber, pure greens, and some fruits has been proven to have an anti-inflammatory impact. A current meta-analysis discovered that adherence to the Mediterranean food plan or a food plan low on the Dietary Inflammatory Index was related to a decrease danger of depression and irritation. Eating extremely processed junk food will increase the chance of changing into and remaining depressed. One randomized managed trial discovered that flavonoid-rich chocolate (e.g., 2 grams of darkish chocolate with 70% cocoa) considerably prevented DNA harm, improved the nucleus integrity of cells, and improved biochemical parameters (whole ldl cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-cholesterol) and waist circumference. Moreover, one other current research discovered that an anti-inflammatory food plan is related to diminished all-cause mortality.


Drink loads of water, about 80-120 ounces a day, extra if sweating closely.


 Certain naturally occurring compounds could also be helpful as each meals and dietary dietary supplements for decreasing irritation, together with turmeric/curcumin and Omega 3 fatty acids. A current randomized managed trial discovered that adjunctive supplementation with turmeric/curcumin (500-1500 mg/day) had important antidepressant results in sufferers with main depressive dysfunction, with a bigger impact in males than in females.

Pre-and Probiotics: 

As we be taught extra concerning the connection between intestine microbiota and systemic irritation, proof suggests probiotic supplementation, in addition to meals that help intestine health (e.g., fermented meals, bone broth), could also be anti-inflammatory. Fermented meals embrace yogurt, kefir, miso, and something that’s naturally pickled with out the usage of vinegar.

Stress administration: 

Psychological stress leads to elevated manufacturing of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and subsequently methods to handle ranges of perceived stress and responses to stress have an anti-inflammatory impact. Recovery practices have proven profound advantages. Such practices embrace meditation, yoga, Jiu Jitsu, non secular/non secular practices, unplugging from digital connections, spending time open air (e.g., “forest bathing”), soothing hobbies, and optimistic social help.

Sauna bathing, chilly immersion, float remedy: 

Hyperthermia (e.g., Finnish-style sauna bathing) is related to diminished systemic irritation and a variety of health advantages, together with diminished danger of vascular and cardiovascular ailments, neurocognitive ailments, pulmonary ailments, and all-cause mortality. Other restoration practices – chilly immersion (ice baths), and float tank remedy – additionally seem to have highly effective anti-inflammatory advantages.


Chronic, systemic irritation performs a robust function within the etiology of just about all persistent ailments. It is primarily attributable to many elements of our fashionable life-style and dietary habits. Modifying your habits to dwell a extra “ancient lifestyle” will scale back irritation, improve metabolic and immune functioning, and enhance your total health and functioning.

About the writer:

B. Christopher Frueh, Ph.D. is a novelist, medical psychologist, and professor of psychology on the University of Hawaii. He has over thirty years {of professional} expertise working with veteran and navy communities; has performed medical trials, epidemiological, and neuroscientific empirical research; and has co-authored over 300 scientific publications. This essay is tailored from Operator Syndrome, forthcoming.

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