Inflammation is the cause of ageing, so how can we stay younger for longer?
Inflammation is responsible for all of the apparently unrelated degenerative diseases of ageing, such as heart disease and diabetes, with the capacity to shorten lifespans or at least, decrease our chances of living an energetic and healthy life
Unlike acute inflammation, which is a lifesaving response that can last for seconds or days. Chronic inflammation is like a bushfire that burns for long periods of time, slowly and steadily destroying tissue and creating disease.
Ageing has been linked to a loss of stem cells. Our stem cells are responsible for replacing damaged or ageing cells with new fresh healthy cells.
Our stem cells have the extraordinary potential to develop into many different types of cells in the body and are essential to repair and growth.
They are responsible for replacing damaged or ageing cells with new high functioning cells. Additionally, mature cells are able to replicate and achieve a critical balance of new cells independent of the overall age of the biological system.
Stem cells are able to divide and renew themselves over long periods of time, they are unspecialised which gives them longevity.
They can also activate specialised cells such as muscle, nerve, brain, skin and organ cells.
Unfortunately, cells can only renew themselves so many times.
Each cell’s telomere which is associated with the cell’s DNA will become shorter each time it renews itself. Meaning that the cell is unable to replace itself with new high functioning cells.
Inside the nucleus (centre) of a cell, our genes are arranged along twisted, double-stranded molecules of DNA called chromosomes. At the ends of the chromosomes are our telomeres.
These telomeres protect our genetic data.
Telomeres have been compared to the plastic tips on shoelaces because they keep chromosome ends from fraying and sticking to each other, which would destroy or scramble an organism’s genetic information.
Yet, each time a cell divides, the telomeres get shorter. When they get too short, the cell can no longer divide; it becomes inactive or it dies.
Think of it this way – just as we age as a human, we become slower and less active – so do our cells – this is why the rest of us becomes that way.
This shortening process besides causing us to age also increases our chances of cancer and increases our chances of dying. Some people compare telomeres to a bomb fuse!
Cells that have reached the point of not being able to reproduce themselves with new high functioning cells start to constantly secrete compounds that support chronic inflammation like pro-inflammatory cytokines, metallothioneins and mitogens.
Cytokines act through receptors and are especially important to the immune system.
Metallothioneins, protect against oxidative stress and Mitogens encourage a cell to divide.
This inflammatory environment affects all of the nearby cells, regardless of their age, status or role in the body (a bit like having a cold – one person gets it, and everyone else comes down with it).
It alters the surrounding connective tissues and leads to the hyper-production of reactive oxygen species known as ROS causing oxidative stress, and the immune system’s ability to maintain an effective immune response.
Advanced ageing and chronic disease states such as diabetes, heart disease, brain and movement disorders, cancer and autoimmune conditions are accelerated.
So how can we reduce chronic inflammation, or prevent it to live a longer healthier life?
- Get – good amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish, flaxseed oil, hemp oil, beans, and nuts. These fatty acids are essential for a healthy inflammatory response, but will also minimize chronic inflammation. Ideally, supplementation is needed to make sure you have the correct amounts needed on a daily basis.
- Reduce – Omega 6 fatty acids found in baked goods, grains, meat and dairy. The number one inflammatory food is wheat gluten regardless of sensitivity. When consumed in the correct amounts, Omega 6 fatty acids play an important part in managing chronic inflammation, but because our diets have become overloaded with these fatty acids – they have become increasingly responsible for chronic inflammation.
- Take – digestive enzymes with bromelain. Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory. Digestive enzymes help break down the byproducts of inflammation and allow for more efficient cellular repair.
- Supplement – with immune-boosting herbal blends of which there are many great ones to choose from. As we age, our body produces fewer immune cells called T-cells, due to our thymus gland shrinking. Thymic protein production decreases until it eventually stops. People suffering from any type of chronic inflammation, or those wanting to keep their thymus healthy should supplement with immune-boosting supplements, and eat a diet high in broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower. Also, supplement with probiotics to keep the immune cells in the bowel lining in good health.
- Drink – at least 2 litres of purified water per day, to flush out toxins and maintain proper dehydration. Drinking tap water is full of chlorine which destroys all bacteria – so, therefore, destroys the bacteria in the bowel – good and bad.
- Increase – your antioxidant intake. Supplement with pycnogenol, grapeseed extract, vitamin C, vitamin E or take a premixed blend. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals and inhibit oxidization.
- Sleep – at least 8 hours per night on a consistent basis. It gives the body time to regenerate, heal and perform metabolic processes. Poor quality chronic sleep deprivation is pro-inflammatory and allows a build-up of oxidative stress. Make sure it is good quality sleep. So many of us do not have deep, relaxed sleep every night. Magnesium promotes restful sleep, as does Melatonin. Take the time every night to unwind before bedtime, avoid computers, smartphones and the TV as the blue light affects the quality of sleep we receive. A hot cup of cacao with stevia and milk, soy milk or rice milk, will not only give you a huge boost of antioxidants before bedtime, but the warm drink will wind you down ready for sleep.
- Relax – stress lowers the immune system, in actual fact, it is now acknowledged to be one of the greatest causes of early-onset age-related diseases. Do what you have to do to relax which does not involve large quantities of alcohol! Exercise, meditate, laugh, sleep or have a hot bath. If you need help – there are a range of natural relaxation supplements, homoeopathic drops and flower essence mixtures to help you unwind.
- Exercise – any form of exercise is good – walk, run, swim, dance, do yoga, pilates or go to the gym. Exercising stimulates blood flow, cleans the lymphatics, strengthens the muscles and boosts the immune system.
- Avoid sugar and sugar creating foods such as bread, gluten-free bread, anything made with flour or rice, including pasta.
- Eat protein-based pasta such as quinoa pasta or buckwheat pasta. Choose Paleo bread instead of bread.
- Consume plants as 80% of your diet – more vegetables than fruits.
- Avoid red meat and pork – replace with fish, eggs and a little bit of chicken.
Not taking care of ourselves when we are ill will cause chronic inflammation as well. There are times we need to work when we are sick – but being sick and soldiering on, is in fact just bad for our long term health. Unfortunately, in today’s society, no one really cares if you are sick – just get the job done. Turning up at work sick to do your job means a pat on the back; take time off to get well – you are seen as weak. I think we need to take a page out of the Danish work ethic book – a healthy happy worker means better quality work done. Amen to that!
Also read, IS YOUR BODY TOXIC?