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5 Surprising Ways to Keep Inflammation in Balance

By , Caring.com senior editor
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We all need inflammation -- the biochemical process that starts right at the cell level to fight damaging invaders. Just not too much inflammation. That's where diet and lifestyle choices come in, researchers say. Among the more surprising anti-inflammatory activities:

Consider an aspirin a day.

Aspirin and NSAIDs (Aleve) are anti-inflammatories. A daily aspirin curbed the incidence of cancer by more than 20 percent among those who took it, according to a 2010 study in the journal Lancet.

But the pills may have unintended consequences and aren't yet recommended for everyone. Be sure to talk to your doctor before starting daily aspirin.

Drink red wine and green tea.

The single best alcohol type is red wine, thanks to its anti-inflammatory phytochemicals, including resveratrol. Men who consumed four or more four-ounce glasses of red wine each week had a 60 percent lower incidence of aggressive prostate cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute (although this research is preliminary).

Just . . . walk.

Regular exercise three to four times a week helps reset the inflammatory process. What you do doesn't have to be extreme, though; just make sure it's vigorous. Brisk walking is ideal.

Have lots of sex.

Orgasm is known to increase the production of antiaging hormones. And the workout involved in vigorous sex (see above) doesn't hurt.

Eat less wheat.

Even "100 percent stone-ground" wheat, the kind Americans have now been trained to favor, may not be helpful to the millions with undetected gluten sensitivities. Beware of wheat in crackers and other packaged snack products, too. Look for alternatives like millet, quinoa, barley, oats.

Learn more about the anti-inflammatory diet.