A landmark study led by my friend and colleague, Dr. Paul Ridker, shows for the first time that reducing inflammation not only lowers risk of a future heart attack, stroke or death from heart disease but may also affect the risk of lung cancer. Effectively fighting inflammation with medication is not new, but medications, like statins not only reduced inflammation but also cholesterol so that the basis for the benefits were unclear. The importance of this groundbreaking study is that the medication purely reduced inflammation without affecting cholesterol (or other factors implicated in heart disease).
In other words, lowering inflammation represents an important new way to improve heart health. That said, listed below are 6 simple things you can do to keep inflammation at bay, everyday.
- Stretch when you wake up. I remind my patients that physical stress will cause internal stress that can promote inflammation. Therefore, I recommend spending a few minutes each morning doing simple stretch exercises to remain limber and more relaxed throughout the day.
- Enjoy a morning cup of java (or tea). Believe it or not, coffee contains powerful chemicals like chlorogenic acid that not only fights inflammation but may also help to combat depression. So enjoy your morning cup of java or tea (that has similar properties).
- Keep air and noise pollution levels down. You may not be able to control air and noise pollution levels outside your home or office but it is important to reduce them as much as you can because pollution can be a major source of inflammation. So, keep the windows up when driving down those noisy and polluted city streets and instead, try listening to….
- Listening to your favorite music will reduce inflammation. In fact, listening to your favorite music not only combats daily stressors but is among the most powerful ways to fight inflammation. So turn it up… but not too loud, because hearing loss is also linked to heart disease!
- Enjoy your greens and berries too! Veggies and fruits and among the best food sources to beat inflammation. In addition to your favorite green salad, I recommend 1 handful of blueberries, 6 strawberries and of course, the proverbial apple each day. If available, try bergamot, a fruit rich in anti-inflammatory chemicals.
- Check out your favorite comedy. That’s right, a good, hearty laugh will fight those inner inflammatory demons. Some of my faves include “Disjointed” , “Young and Hungry” and “Rules of Engagement“.
Dr. Michael Miller is a cardiologist and Professor of Medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. His latest book is “Heal Your Heart: The Positive Emotions Prescription to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease“. All proceeds are donated to the American Heart Association.