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Inflammaging and The Role of Your Gut

What is Inflammaging?


In certain instances, some degree of inflammation is not only normal but also necessary and healthy.1 If you have an injury or illness, your body’s immune system triggers an inflammatory response that helps to fight off germs and facilitate healing.1 However, inflammation can quickly go from helpful to harmful.

Excessive or ongoing inflammation contributes to the breakdown of healthy cells and normal tissue.2 As a result, the body must clean up all the extra by-products of the increased inflammation which pushes the inflammatory response into overdrive, creating a vicious cycle of inflammation driving more inflammation.2

When we experience constant low-grade systemic inflammation, this speeds up the aging process and you might feel some symptoms such as low energy, frequent illnesses or feeling like you never quite recover from an illness, low moods, poor sleep quality, digestive complications, and aches and pains in your muscles and joints.2 Or you might not necessarily feel any acute symptoms, rather just feel like your body isn’t working as well as it once was. That’s inflammaging.


Common Causes of Inflammaging


  • Age- as we get older generally above 65 years, the body is at a higher susceptibility of constant low-grade inflammation2,3
  • A diet high in hydrogenated fats, refined sugar, and processed food2,3
  • Central obesity is associated with a pro-inflammatory state2,3
  • Gut dysbiosis / increased gut permeability (leaky gut)2,3
  • Dysregulated immune system2,3
  • Chronic infections3,4
  • Increased oxidative stress4
  • Genetic susceptibility3
  • Long term stress3,4


Diseases Associated with Accelerated Inflammaging


  • Diabetes mellitus type two2,3
  • Obesity2,3
  • Dementia2,3
  • Depression4
  • Cardiovascular disease2,3
  • Chronic kidney disease5


The Gut and Inflammaging


Our gut microbiota, the combination of both the good and bad bacteria within our digestive tract plays a central role in inflammaging.2 When imbalanced it can increase the production of inflammatory molecules which can negatively impact other organs and bodily systems and accelerate the ageing process.2

Aging is further associated with alterations in gut permeability and increased risk for dysbiosis, the imbalance between beneficial and harmful gut bacteria.2 Dysbiosis is linked with increased inflammation both locally in the gut and systemically, poorer functioning of the immune system, and increased risk of disease states.2,3 Obesity and diabetes mellitus type two are also associated with increased rates of dysbiosis, increased inflammation, and faster aging.3

Research has shown us that in those over 65 years, a digestive tract that is abundant in beneficial bacteria, especially Akkermansia and Bifidobacterium species have improved immune function and higher anti-inflammatory activity compared to those who have dysbiosis.2 This highlights the need to support our digestive system to reduce inflammation and slow down complications associated with ageing.


How Can We Slow Down Inflammaging?


Improve the diversity of your diet

Implement a wholefood, Mediterranean-style diet, that is full of fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, fish and seafood, and herbs and spices.6 Aim to limit or reduce any processed foods, refined sugar, and excess caffeine and alcohol. Keep hydrated with plenty of water.


Support gut health

Supporting your gut health through implementing foods that are rich in fibre, prebiotic foods, and fermented foods, as well as a probiotic has been shown to help reduce the prevalence of inflammaging, dysbiosis, cardiovascular complications, and obesity.7,8

Foods to include in your diet:

  • High fibre foods, such as legumes, oats, wholegrains, quinoa, and fresh fruits, especially raspberries and pears and vegetables such as peas, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
  • Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, and Greek yogurt.
  • Prebiotic foods such as Jerusalem artichokes, chicory, garlic, onion, leek, shallots, spring onion and asparagus.


Exercise

Research has shown us that it’s never too late to start exercising. Moderate exercise in elderly populations is associated with lower inflammatory markers.9 Maintaining regular exercise throughout life is associated with a better likelihood of prevent or delaying inflammaging.9

The key is to commit to being consistent and finding an exercise that you enjoy and that suits your lifestyle. This could include brisk walks, cycling, swimming or resistance training. Aim for 40 minutes 3-4 times a week.


Sleep to reduce inflammation

Getting enough sleep is important for reducing inflammation and to give your body time to recover. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes type two, and heart disease which all increased inflammaging.10

Choose a wake and bedtime that suits you and try to stick to it. Aim to obtain 7-9 hours’ sleep per night. This will help regulate your circadian rhythm and alert your body that it’s time to sleep and soon it will become routine.

*Always speak to your health care provider before starting supplementation.


References


  1. Chen L, Deng H, Cui H, Fang J, Zuo Z, Deng J, Li Y, Wang X, Zhao L. Inflammatory responses and inflammation-associated diseases in organs. Oncotarget. 2018 Jan 1;9(6):7204.
  2. Ragonnaud E, Biragyn A. Gut microbiota as the key controllers of “healthy” aging of elderly people. Immunity & Ageing. 2021 Dec;18:1-1.
  3. Xia S, Zhang X, Zheng S, Khanabdali R, Kalionis B, Wu J, Wan W, Tai X. An update on inflamm-aging: mechanisms, prevention, and treatment. Journal of immunology research. 2016 Oct;2016.
  4. Ferrucci L, Fabbri E. Inflammageing: chronic inflammation in ageing, cardiovascular disease, and frailty. Nature Reviews Cardiology. 2018 Sep;15(9):505-22.
  5. Batista MA, Calvo-Fortes F, Silveira-Nunes G, Camatta GC, Speziali E, Turroni S, Teixeira-Carvalho A, Martins-Filho OA, Neretti N, Maioli TU, Santos RR. Inflammaging in endemic areas for infectious diseases. Frontiers in Immunology. 2020 Nov 12;11:579972.
  6. Mazza E, Ferro Y, Pujia R, Mare R, Maurotti S, Montalcini T, Pujia A. Mediterranean diet in healthy aging. The journal of nutrition, health & aging. 2021 Nov;25(9):1076-83.
  7. Ale EC, Binetti AG. Role of probiotics, prebiotics, and synbiotics in the elderly: insights into their applications. Frontiers in Microbiology. 2021 Jan 28;12:631254.
  8. Patel PJ, Singh SK, Panaich S, Cardozo L. The aging gut and the role of prebiotics, probiotics, and synbiotics: A review. Journal of Clinical Gerontology and Geriatrics. 2014 Mar 1;5(1):3-6.
  9. Wawrzyniak-Gramacka E, Hertmanowska N, Tylutka A, Morawin B, Wacka E, Gutowicz M, Zembron-Lacny A. The association of anti-inflammatory diet ingredients and lifestyle exercise with inflammaging. Nutrients. 2021 Oct 21;13(11):3696.
  10. Irwin MR. Sleep and inflammation in resilient aging. Interface Focus. 2014 Oct 6;4(5):20140009.

 



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