Today’s Health Tip ~ A Mattress, Toothbrush, & Salmon – Your Partners for Good Health

A mattress, a toothbrush, and a salmon dinner: on the surface, those items don’t seem to have much in common. But they all represent healthy lifestyle habits that help fight chronic inflammation, a persistent state of the immune system that’s linked to many health problems. And the more healthy habits you practice, even simple ones, the better chance you’ll have at thwarting chronic inflammation and disease.

    1. Eat fatty fish twice a week.  Salmon and other fatty fish (such as anchovies, halibut, sardines, and tuna) contain omega-3 fatty acids that reduce inflammation. “Omega-3s disrupt the production of chemicals that cause inflammation by certain immune system cells. They may even help lower the risks for stroke and for the type of brain inflammation associated with Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Robert Shmerling, a rheumatologist and medical editor of the Harvard Special Health Report Fighting Inflammation (/ui). “But our body doesn’t make omega-3s. We need to get them from food.” Other ways to fight inflammation with diet include minimizing processed foods and added sugars, and eating lots of fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, poultry, fish, and healthy oils (such as olive and canola).
    2. Get a new mattress. Does your mattress make you toss and turn? “Even one night of disturbed sleep can spark inflammation,” Dr. Shmerling says. “It increases inflammatory substances in the blood. Regularly missing sleep contributes to obesity, which is also linked to inflammation.” If you suspect that the fix for your poor sleep is a new mattress (or maybe just a mattress topper), it’s worth the investment. Getting seven to nine hours of sleep per night is associated with reduced risks for many chronic diseases, including dementia.
    3. Brush your teeth regularly. We’re all supposed to brush our teeth twice per day, and floss them at least once per day. It’s necessary to brush away the bacteria that can inflame the gums, lead to infection, and cause inflammation or infection elsewhere in the body.
    4. Go for a walk. Aerobic exercise — the kind that gets your heart and lungs working, like brisk walking — is an important way to fight chronic inflammation. “It helps reduce body fat, which contains inflammation-promoting substances. Exercise may also increase the production of hormones that help keep inflammation in check,” Dr. Shmerling says. We all need at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week to stay healthy. If you’ve been inactive for a while, start with a five-minute daily walk and work your way up to 20 or 30 minutes a day. If you have heart disease or are at increased risk for it, check with your doctor about your best exercise program.
    5. Do some deep-breathing exercises. Feeling stressed? Chronic stress promotes inflammation and is linked to several chronic inflammatory conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, depression, and inflammatory bowel disease.


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