- Dr. Nancy
Are You Inflammaging?
We are all aging. From conception to birth we all go through a cycle of growth and degeneration. Aging and death are inevitable. No one lives this life forever.
You have more control over how you age than what you might think. The choices you make every day throughout your life have a cumulative effect on the internal environment within your body. It is this string of choices that lead you toward health, or toward disease.
Inflammaging is the result of chronic, low-grade inflammation throughout the body in response to stress. It is linked to accelerated aging and many of the common age-related diseases.
Stress is at the root of inflammaging. Chronic stress kills! It really does. Most often it is a slow subtle death, one cell at a time.
Stress, whether chemical, physical or emotional, triggers a protective response in your body. The stress can be real or perceived. This means that there does not need to be an immediate threat, like coming face to face with a grizzly bear or eating processed food.
You can conjure the same response by worrying about your health, finances or relationship. Your thoughts can play a profound role in the physical state of your body.
Research shows that almost every system in the body can be influenced by chronic stress. When chronic stress goes unreleased, it suppresses the body’s immune system and ultimately manifests as illness. Stress also mounts an inflammatory response and, when chronic, increases the risk for age-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and Alzheimer’s.
This happens on a cellular level. The hundreds of mitochondria in each cell, and the thousands in each brain cell, play a dynamic role in the stress response. They provide both the energy and signals that enable and direct stress response activity. They also bear the brunt of stress load. Chronic stress impairs mitochondrial performance and ultimately deteriorates your health.
Mitochondria play an important role in inflammaging through the increased production of reactive oxygen species. Reactive oxygen species are a type of free radical and a normal by-product of energy production in the cell. Elevated levels of ROS stimulate pro-inflammatory cytokines which engage inflammation. They can also lead to DNA damage further accelerating the aging process.
There are infinite sources of stress. Your body has built in response mechanisms to combat stressors and insure your survival. Inflammation and our immune response are literally life savers. They are our first line of defense.
These mechanisms are good.
They are normal.
We need them!
Our adaptability and resiliency largely determine the long-term impact that stress has on our bodies.
There are 2 factors that primarily determine your response to stressful situations:
1. How you perceive the situation through your Internal Map of Reality.
2. Your general state of physical health, which is largely determined by your diet and lifestyle choices.
The answer lies in balance, both internally and externally. Mitigating stressors and supporting the body in its ability to combat the effects of stress are of utmost importance.
Diet and lifestyle are central to achieving this. They can have more of an impact than supplements or medication. You are in the driver's seat.
Consistently eating stress-inducing foods can accelerate the inflammatory disease process.
Try to avoid or limit these foods:
Refined carbohydrates and sugar
Commercially produced beef and processed meats
Vegetable oils, margarine and shortening
Follow the lead from the Blue Zones where people flourish to a hundred years old and beyond, living active and vibrant lives.
Include an abundance of these:
Single-origin extra virgin olive oil
Green leafy vegetables
Wild Alaskan salmon and sardines
Berries and cherries
Variety is key. Eat the rainbow every day.
A healthy diet is beneficial not only for reducing the risk of chronic diseases, but also for improving mood and overall quality of life
Hydration, movement, exercise and sleep help to support your body in its effort to regulate and reduce inflammation. They are key habits to prevent disease.
Stress is everywhere, no one is immune. We need to focus on reducing our exposure and elevating our coping mechanisms so that we can make a course correction with our health.