Acute inflammation helps us cope with injuries and infection. When we experience its familiar signs — redness, swelling, heat, pain — it means our immune system is switching into gear. Our pro-inflammatory hormones have called out for white blood cells to do their job and heal the damaged tissue.

But when symptoms of this healthy mechanism don’t recede after the job’s done, they could pave the way for more health problems. Recurring or chronic inflammation has been linked to serious medical conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Fortunately, we have the power to fight inflammation. With a few healthy lifestyle choices, we can improve how our body responds to injuries and infection, and thus keep inflammation-induced problems at bay.

Here are 6 steps you can take now.

1. Start saying no to sugar.
Sugar is one of the main inflammation culprits. Consuming too much of it on a regular basis can tire out your adrenal glands; impair your ability to cope with stress, and hinder your body from releasing the cortisol you need to regulate inflammation.

2. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
Start filling your plate with natural, raw, organic produce. The phytonutrients your body needs to ward off inflammation and negate the inflammatory effects of high-glycemic foods and saturated fats can be found in fruits and vegetables. In fact, a single cup of fresh strawberries can pack up to 150% of your daily recommended vitamin C and help stimulate white blood cells that fight disease. Add berries to your diet, and you get flavonoids, which are powerful antioxidants and inflammatory agents.

3. Increase your omega-3 intake.
Omega-3 fatty acids can regulate inflammatory processes and responses, and lower blood pressure. Consuming sufficient amounts on a daily basis can protect you against heart attack, abnormal heart rhythms, and heart disease. You can find it in fish oil as well as certain nut and plant oils.

4. Clear your head with meditation.
Are you able to handle all the stressful situations you experience every day? If you feel stressed all the time, you could end up with high levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation and cardiovascular disease. Chronic stress is also associated with an unhealthy immune system. I recommend setting aside at east 10 minutes each day to be still, reflect and meditate. Here’s a closer look at what meditation can do for your health.

5. Don’t skip out on sleep.
It’s no secret that sleep deprivation can lead to a series of health problems. Aside from impairing your immune system and cognitive ability, prolonged lack of sleep can result in high levels of CRP. If you often skip out on sleep, inflammation might even be the least of your worries. Here are the simplest steps you can take to improve sleep now.

6. Get active.
Having a lot of excess weight can greatly contribute to chronic inflammation, but regular physical activity can help manage it. The body creates and uses more antioxidants right after you exercise, which in turn prevents inflammation. In fact, people who go to the gym regularly have lower levels CRP. Furthermore, the cardiovascular effects of exercise are associated with low blood pressure and cholesterol levels. I’ve put together these tips to help you ease your way into exercise.

Many of those who experience unhealthy bouts of inflammation turn to aspirin for relief. However, taking aspirin on a regular basis can lead to serious health issues, such as asthma attacks, ulcers, an increased bleeding tendency, and liver and kidney problems. Fortunately, there’s a healthier alternative.

There are supplements that have a natural herbal formula that includes turmeric, curcumin, and black pepper. Unlike its pharmaceutical counterparts, it reduces inflammation naturally and is rich in antioxidants that can help prevent various chronic health problems.