Better Me

10 Steps to Reduce Inflammation and Boost Your Immune Health

Have you ever wondered why some people never seem to get sick? While good genes may play a part, the real secret lies in how well they manage inflammation in their body.  

Immunity and inflammation are closely linked and are part of your immune system. Striking the right balance between them may be the key to staying healthy. Read on to understand more about this relationship and ways you can boost your immunity and reduce inflammation. 

The relationship between immunity and inflammation

Inflammation is one way your immune system responds to threats like infections, injuries or stress. When your body detects something harmful, it triggers an inflammatory response to help fight off the threat and begin the healing process. This response is known as acute inflammation.

Your immune system plays a key role in this response by sending out specialized cells, like antibodies, to the affected area to attack the invaders. 

“People who are said to have strong immune systems typically have developed a lot of antibodies, allowing their bodies to overcome infections and illnesses quickly,” said Alexandra Lessem, a family medicine nurse practitioner with Banner Health. 

However, sometimes the inflammation doesn’t know when to stop – even when there’s no danger. Unlike acute inflammation, chronic inflammation happens when it starts attacking healthy organs and joints. This can last for weeks, months or even years. Over time, it can harm your body and increase your risk of diseases.

“Chronic inflammation is linked to many health conditions such as heart disease, some cancers, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, chronic pain, inflammatory arthritis and autoimmune diseases,” Lessem said. “People with chronic inflammation tend to have decreased life expectancy and quality of life.”

What causes chronic inflammation?

“One of the biggest factors contributing to chronic inflammation is poor lifestyle choices, including a diet high in processed foods, sugars, red meat and fat, insufficient sleep, untreated stress and alcohol and other substance abuse,” Lessem said.

Other sources of chronic inflammation may include:

  • Long-term exposure to toxins like pollution, tobacco smoke or other chemicals 
  • Too much exercise or too little
  • Chronic infections like hepatitis C and tuberculosis
  • Autoimmune disorders like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis 

What can I do to lower chronic inflammation and boost my immunity?

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury and infection, but when it becomes chronic it can lead to a host of health problems, including a weak immune system. The good news is that there are many ways to reduce inflammation and boost immunity.

Lessem shared 10 ways to help you lower inflammation:

  1. Embrace anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting foods: Load up on antioxidant-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and lean proteins. Add immune-boosting foods like garlic, ginger, turmeric, citrus fruits, yogurt and green tea. 
  2. Ditch the junk: Minimize your intake of processed foods, sugary snacks, foods high in trans fats, red and processed meats and fried and charred foods. Think about eating foods as close to their natural form as possible, most of the time.
  3. Prioritize quality sleep: Aim for seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night to support your immunity.
  4. Manage stress effectively: To help ease tension in your life, try meditation, belly breathing exercises, yoga and mindfulness training. If stress affects your daily life, speak with a therapist or counselor.
  5. Get moving: Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week, but don’t overdo it. Over-exercising or continuing to exercise when sore or injured can cause chronic inflammation.
  6. Maintain a healthy weight: Extra fat cells in your body produce and release certain chemicals that trigger inflammation. This can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome. Excess weight can also cause increased stress on your bones and joints.
  7. Limit alcohol use: While moderate alcohol consumption, like red wine, may have some anti-inflammatory effects, excessive drinking can increase inflammation and lower immune function.
  8. Quit smoking: Smoking is a major contributor to inflammation and weakens the immune system. If you smoke, seek support to quit and reap the benefits of improved lung health and reduced inflammation.
  9. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day to maintain hydration and support immune function. Hydration helps flush toxins from the body and keeps cellular processes running smoothly, reducing the risk of inflammation.
  10. Stay up to date on vaccinations: Protect yourself against infectious diseases by staying current on recommended vaccinations. Annual flu shots and other vaccinations based on age and health conditions can boost your immune defenses and reduce your risk of illness.


Your immune system is a powerful ally in the fight against illness and disease. By understanding how it works and taking steps to support it, you can keep your body strong and resilient. 

Nourish your body with a healthy diet, practice good hygiene and manage stress and you’ll be on your way to reducing inflammation and boosting your immunity. 

If you have questions or concerns about your health, don’t hesitate to talk to your health care provider or a Banner Health specialist. 

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