The burdens of unhealthy ageing associated with our modern and busy lifestyles are increasing. “Inflammageing” is marked by elevated levels of blood inflammatory markers.
Inflammation is a natural process, a protective mechanism, and the body’s response to infection, illness or injury. As part of this inflammatory response, the body increases production of white blood cells and immune cells in order to fight the infection or virus. This type of inflammation is part of the immune system’s healing response to trauma or infection, and classic signs of acute inflammation include redness, pain, heat and swelling.
However, there’s a second more hidden type of inflammation which is called chronic inflammation which persists ongoing, and sometimes at such low levels that there are few symptoms. In fact, it can occur without any noticeable symptoms at all.
What is inflammageing?
Inflammageing is the fusion of words ‘inflammation’ and ‘aging’ and is used to describe ageing that is accelerated by chronic systemic inflammation. Inflammation is the common biological factor responsible for the decline and the onset of disease in the elderly, as most of the major age-related diseases share a common inflammatory pathogenesis.
Inflammation impacts how we age
Ageing and cell damage from inflammation is a normal part of aging, however the acceleration of this aging occurs due to higher levels of inflammation in the body. When we are inflamed, our body struggles, and body systems slow down (digestive system/metabolism/weight gain/cell turnover).
Poor dietary choices high in sugar, trans fats, and processed foods, excessive alcohol consumption, stress, lack of quality sleep, and even microbiome pathogens, all contribute to inflammation.
A digestive system that does not function efficiently (ie chronic bloating, discomfort, reflux, stool fluctuations) also contributes to inflammation levels.
Inflammation relates to ageing through higher cell damage – and pH imbalance is a key contributor (inflammatory pathways are triggered by tissue acidification).
Other potential mechanisms of inflammageing include genetic susceptibility, central obesity, increased gut permeability (allows proteins/endotoxins to circulate the system), changes to microbiota composition (ie gut pathogens), oxidative stress within cells (low antioxidant protection), immune cell dysregulation (autoimmunity triggering inflammatory disorders), and chronic infections (low grade inflammation that is never ‘switched off’).
How to treat inflammation
One of the best method for improving pH balance is in adopting a predominantly plant-based diet, which in turn reduces inflammation. This is why the Mediterranean diet works so well.
The Mediterranean diet is considerably lower in meat and higher in plant foods than a standard Western diet, and is based on countless studies showing that specific eating patterns from areas around the Mediterranean were associated with lower rates of disease.
The healthy traditional anti-inflammatory diet of the Mediterranean has not only shown to reduce inflammation levels, but also improve gut health, bone health, brain health, skin health, cardiovascular health, anti-aging, and more.
Principles of the Mediterranean diet are easy to incorporate, by sticking to whole foods, rich in seasonal vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, whole grains, and uncooked olive oil. Eating a full variety of colour at each meal. This style of eating contains prebiotics, fibre, as well as being high in antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. Plant-based diets are also high in fibre which supports the microbiome, and phenolic compounds which are known to possess anti-platelet, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory activities.
Chronic inflammation is preventable with lifestyle modifications and dietary interventions. It can help to reduce the signs and symptoms of ageing. If you need some help in taking the first step towards lowering inflammation then contact us today.
Yvette is a qualified Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia.
Yvette specialises in the treatment of gut health and digestive complaints, skin issues, mood disorders, hormonal concerns, fatigue, and more.
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