Inflammaging, first coined by researchers Claudio Franceschi and Judith Campisi, refers to the chronic, low-grade inflammation that tends to increase with age. Depending on the amount of inflammation in our bodies, this process becomes a significant risk factor for various age-related diseases, such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart and lung diseases, cancer, osteoporosis, arthritis, and dementia. Surprisingly, these often have inflammation at their core. Additionally, excessive inflammaging can speed up the effects of aging on our skin, joints, and organs. That’s why we need to find the key sources of inflammation and fight back.
Sources of Inflammaging
Inflammaging is fueled by various factors, including lifestyle choices such as a sedentary routine, poor diet, and inadequate sleep. Similarly, exposure to pollution, toxins, and other environmental stressors can trigger inflammatory responses in the body. Lastly, prolonged stress leads to the release of stress hormones, fostering an inflammatory environment. These factors create a low-grade, persistent, chronic inflammation that is sterile and not from an infection.
While these sources of inflammation probably don’t surprise you, it’s worth noting just how common these practices are among most Americans. It will require some intentionality to change them, but thankfully, the steps toward improvement are fairly simple and worth the effort since reducing inflammaging can improve outcomes when it comes to preventing heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer's, or just to slow down the effects of aging.
Practical Steps To Reduce Inflammation
Dr. Mark Hyman emphasizes the importance of dietary changes as the most important step to combat inflammation. The main anti-inflammatory components in our diet are omega-3 fatty acids and the rich array of colorful phytochemicals found in plant foods. Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet, rich in deep reds, blues, purples, oranges, yellows, and greens, can most significantly impact inflammation levels.
Gut Health and Hydration
Maintaining a healthy gut through prebiotic and probiotic foods, along with the inclusion of herbs and spices, further supports inflammation reduction, as does minimizing the intake of processed foods and excessive sugars. Maintain proper hydration levels to support bodily functions and flush out toxins.
Taking care of your joints is important because joint inflammation can trigger a systemic inflammatory response affecting organs and tissues throughout the body. To support healthier joints, incorporate strength training with proper form and opt for low-impact activities like swimming, cycling, or walking. Additionally, consider supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, which are natural components of cartilage and may aid in alleviating joint pain and stiffness.
Prioritize your beauty sleep as it plays a crucial role in regulating inflammation and supporting overall well-being.
Engage in regular physical activity to boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. Both aerobic and strength-training exercises are beneficial.
Incorporate stress-relief practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, or yoga into your daily routine to mitigate the impact of chronic stress. A relaxed, positive mindset goes a long way in the fight against stress and the inflammation it causes.
Supplements for Inflammation Control
Once you’ve improved your nutrition and daily habits, Dr. Hyman recommends talking to a functional medicine doctor about key supplements to help regulate inflammation, including vitamin D, fish oil, curcumin, vitamin B complex, and a supplement derived from Himalayan Tartary buckwheat, known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Inflammaging is a natural part of the aging process, but by understanding its sources and taking proactive steps in your diet and lifestyle, you can significantly impact its course. Embracing a holistic approach that encompasses nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, and hydration can empower you to achieve and maintain optimal health. While you can't halt the aging process, you can take steps to ensure you age as gracefully as possible.
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