Heart disease is one of the most common chronic medical conditions worldwide and is the number one cause of death in many countries, including the United States. This condition provides several warning signs, including chest pain, difficulty breathing, and excess pressure or tightness in the chest. Obesity, high cholesterol levels, and high blood pressure are the main risk factors leading to heart disease—and driving these is chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is often slow and lingers around and can stay undetected for months or years before its manifestations become noticeable. Chronic inflammation has a pivotal role in developing heart disease, leading to irritated blood vessels, excess plaque growth, trigger blood clots, and loosen plaque in arteries. Luckily, you can control and reverse inflammation by merely changing your lifestyle choices.
Follow the following methods to lower your inflammation levels and prevent heart disease.
The food you eat is as important as the medications and supplements you're taking for your health since they're great at protecting your body against inflammation. Making generally better choices in your diet, including fresh vegetables and fruits, while reducing your intake of junk food filled with refined sugar and trans-fat, can make a big difference. It's best to add more fruits or vegetables and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like cold-water fish and flax seeds, to your diet to lower inflammation more efficiently.
One of the best diets for heart disease prevention is the Mediterranean diet, which lowers inflammation significantly. The diet mainly focuses on fruits, fish, whole grains, fish, and vegetables while limiting unhealthy fats like saturated fat and trans fat present in red meat, butter, and egg yolks. It also limits the intake of processed and refined sugar and carbohydrates.
Limiting or avoiding simple carbohydrates, including processed white flour, refined sugar, white rice, any food products rich in high fructose corn syrup, can trigger inflammation. An easy rule you can follow and wouldn't forget is to avoid eating "white foods," including white bread, rice, and pasta, alongside foods made from white sugar and flour.
Make sure to make your meals revolving around lean proteins and whole foods rich in fiber like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, such as brown rice and whole-wheat bread. When buying food, check its labels and confirm it uses whole wheat or whole grains as its first ingredient.
When you don't overexert yourself, exercising can help prevent heart disease and lower inflammation by lowering blood pressure, helping you lose and manage your weight—reducing your risks for other chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes. Following a moderately leveled workout routine has a direct effect on inflammation, decreasing damaging inflammation.
Experts recommend trying to be physically active and engage in moderate workout sessions for at least 30 to 45 minutes every five or more days every week. Aerobic exercises and weight or resistance training are the best choices in lowering inflammation.
Not many people know this, but teeth play a huge role in inflammation. Inflammation in your mouth alone can expand to your body's blood vessels, making the maintenance of your teeth crucial. This scenario works as bacteria build up on your teeth, infecting your gums, causing them to become inflamed. Inflammation in your mouth then extends to your body's bloodstream, causing inflammation in the blood vessels.
That's why make sure you brush and floss your teeth every day and meet up with a dentist when you have red or bleeding gums.
Gluten and dairy are components that don't usually cause inflammation or swelling in relatively healthy people unless they're suffering from an allergy, have high intolerance, or have celiac disease. However, dairy and gluten can be irritating when a person's already suffering from an existing inflammation. Some individuals find it beneficial to cut off dairy, gluten, or both for a set period, usually a few weeks, while indulging in an anti-inflammatory diet.
After the set period, you can slowly begin to consume gluten and dairy products again to see if it's still causing inflammation.
No matter how active you are and how healthy your diet is, chronic inflammation won't go away entirely if your stress levels are through the roof—and even if stress isn't much of an issue in your everyday life, learning how to manage and cope with stress is crucial. That's why it's best to know how to handle pressure to prevent new inflammation. You can do this by finding healthy ways to escape or ease stress, such as practicing yoga, meditating, or going on a walk.
Following all those things, offer quick psychological relief and anti-inflammatory effects physiologically.
Although this isn't an ideal method for everyone, going "fasting" at certain times of the day is a great way to reduce inflammation. That's because intermittent fasting (IF) provides several anti-inflammatory effects due to its irregular eating patterns. You can approach fasting in many ways, but one of the easiest ways is starting with a 12-hour fast, meaning if you eat dinner at 7 pm, you can only drink water until 7 am the following day. Several studies have proven that regularly going on an intermittent fast can help reduce heart disease risks, improve insulin sensitivity, boost brain health, and prevent inflammatory bowel disease.
There's plenty of hype regarding probiotics when it comes to weight loss and general gut health. However, it would be best if you also considered those microbes already present in your body. It's best to protect these existing "good bacteria" by cutting out trans fat and sugars in your diet and opt for natural foods. Besides that, consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt, kombucha, and kimchi every day is a great way to take care of the good bacteria inside your body, as they're one of the many cornerstones to lowering inflammation long-term.
If you love drinking a cup of joe every day, it's best to swap them with a cup of green tea instead. That's because green tea leaves are rich in polyphenol compounds, helping reduce free radical damage and stop further inflammation. Plus, several studies have suggested that regularly drinking green tea can help reduce one's risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and other medical conditions like cancer and joint issues.
If you're the type of person who needs to have a nightly glass of wine or cocktail, consider stopping for a couple of days. This method is temporary and doesn't need to be long-term. However, reducing your alcohol intake briefly alongside other anti-inflammatory strategies can help your body reduce existing inflammation naturally.
Additionally, several studies have suggested that moderate alcohol consumption can provide several benefits, but it's easy to cross the line from beneficial to harmful.
When preparing your meals or eating out, make sure you always have a bit of garlic or spice added. That's because fragrant and pungent-smelling spices can ease inflammation. There have been several instances where incorporating garlic and herbs or spices like turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon was shown to reduce inflammation that could eventually lead to heart disease and other medical conditions.
Going to bed a bit earlier and getting more sleep can make a huge difference in your health and inflammation. That's because not getting enough sleep can trigger inflammation, even in the healthiest people, increasing risks for metabolic problems—leading to obesity and heart disease.
Although excessive inflammation can result in chronic medical conditions like heart disease, it isn't always bad. For instance, when you cut your finger, your immune system will release white blood cells to heal and seal off the injury naturally. During this, you might experience redness, heat, swelling, and pain—and this type of inflammation is healthy and can be a lifesaver.
This type of inflammation will do its job and gradually calm down by itself. However, when it doesn't, it leads to chronic inflammation, which is responsible for numerous diseases and causes three out of five deaths, mainly due to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease—with the latter being the leading cause of death across the world. The good news is, with proper nutrition, exercise, and the good habits mentioned, you can reduce your inflammation that contributes to the many risk factors that, if left unchecked, lead to heart disease.
Remember that it can take a while for inflammation in the body to build and cause detrimental damage, meaning it won't go away overnight. However, switching to good lifestyle changes can help over time, giving you the best chance of living healthier in the future, and what better way to achieve this than having the assistance of a professional? Dr. Ashley Prince is one of the best chiropractors that can help with inflammatory issues.
Dr. Prince offers traditional chiropractic therapy and adjustments to reduce inflammatory agents. She also creates tailored treatment plans for each patient, helping lower inflammation and prevent heart disease—bringing natural wellness to you and transforming your life through sustainable health. Book an appointment with Dr. Prince today to achieve better health and wellness over time.