5 Ways to Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation exists at the heart of all disease, with many naturopaths, doctors and scientists agreeing that no disease can arise without the preliminary presence of inflammation. With the palpable amount of stressors that exist in our modern world—everything from our cell phones, to the WiFi networks circling around our homes, to chemicals in our food systems—we have to take advantage of the most effective compounds and practices known to reduce inflammation.

  1. Turmeric

    Turmeric may be the world’s oldest medication, with health-focused usage dating back over 5,000 years. In terms of its powerful anti-inflammatory and sports-recovery benefits, much of turmeric’s potential has been attributed to a single polyphenol compound within it, known as curcumin. When it comes to curcumin, 1,000 mg twice per day is how much most people should be consuming for optimal benefits. I also consume up to a tablespoon of turmeric root powder per day, often in the form of golden milk, a shake, or other foods (such as Emilía’s Turmeric Tahini Cauliflower).

  2. Breathwork

Living in a more sympathetic, “fight or flight” state than in “rest and digest” can cause mouth-breathing, hyper-oxidation and eventually, damage to our mitochondria. With an increased number of free radicals being produced and more inflammatory cytokines being put into circulation, our immune systems become impaired.

Through real-time measurements of my and my clients’ heart rate variability and heart-brain coherence, I have found box breathing to be one of the most effective ways to get myself and my clients into a parasympathetic, “rest and digest” state. Here is my modified version of box breathing:

Prior to starting the breath, practice activating your sex organs a few times (as you would if you were trying to stop yourself from urinating) by contracting for 4 seconds, then relaxing for 4-seconds. Repeat this 3-5 times.

Next, inhale slowly and steadily across 6-seconds, expanding the abdomen with air. Then hold the breath in for 4 seconds.

After holding, exhale slowly and steadily across 6 seconds.

Hold your breath “on empty” for 8-20 seconds.

After a few cycles, try activating your sex organs as you inhale and exhale the air out of the nose. You should feel that it allows you to control the airflow and extend the time spent inhaling and exhaling. Extend your inhale and exhale by 2 seconds at a time as you see fit. Eventually, do not be surprised if you find yourself inhaling/exhaling across 20 or more seconds.

3. Cold Immersion

Any form of cold immersion is going to clear the slate on your nervous system and allow you to take control of your day. A simple 3-5-minute cold shower each morning is enough to start reaping many of the benefits of this age-old practice. When you’re ready to take things to the next level, read this article.

4. CBD

CBD is one of the most beneficial compounds for combatting inflammation. When I am in tough training blocks, as I am at the time of writing this article, I completely lather my shoulders with this CBD enriched hemp oil after every upper body workout. This oil combines hemp with curcumin and a number of other natural anti-inflammatory compounds including ginger and eucalyptus. I also take these pills of full-spectrum CBD extract, containing 0% THC.

5. Meditation

Evolutionarily, we are engineered to react to the world around us—it’s how we kept ourselves and our families safe across millennia. However, the “outer world” used to only approach us in ways that demanded a reaction a few times per day. Today, our environment demands our attention thousands and thousands of times per day—not limited to morning traffic, coffee choices, social media and email. If we’re not careful, we can ride these waves and life carries us away.

Meditation allows us to connect with our inner world, giving us a portal into the present moment and a means of working with our emotions. In beginning meditation, the aim is just to anchor our focus and simply bring it back when it gets away from us—think of it as bicep curls for your attention. Just 10 minutes per day of silent deep breathing with your eyes closed, using your breath as an anchor, is a great practice to start with.


Joe DiStefano

Joe has been a wellness and performance coach for over 15 years. His teachings focus on engraining profound mindset shifts, giving individuals the courage and the tools to align their actions with their objectives throughout daily life.