Inflammation is uniquely tied to the human aging process. The aging of tissues and organs, such as the skin, as well as the development of age-related disease are both connected to inflammation. But, what is inflammation and how does it harm the body?
For you to understand the impact of inflammation on aging, you must know the difference between the two types of inflammation: acute inflammation and chronic inflammation.
Think of acute inflammation as the beneficial type. This sort of inflammation is short-lived, occurring as a protective, immune response. When you are exposed to harmful bacteria or injured, a chain reaction goes off within seconds or minutes and carries on for hours and days afterwards.
You can see the acute inflammatory process in action. Let’s say you lightly scratch yourself without breaking the skin. At first, the scratch appears as a thin, red line. Then, as blood flow increases, the tissue around the scratch reddens. More fluid enters the area between cells, so the site swells. White blood cells and plasma proteins rush in to fight off bacteria and repair the injury.
This form of inflammation is a helpful, protective process.
Chronic inflammation, by comparison, is a long-term process. Slow and insidious, it uses those very same resources from the immune response to attack the body’s tissues instead of repairing it. Happening over a span of months or years, chronic inflammation leads to damaged tissue and cell death. It may occur without any signs or symptoms.
Typical causes of chronic inflammation include persistent injury or infection, chronic exposure to toxins, and overactive immune reactions, such as with autoimmune diseases. Chronic inflammation has been implicated in a host of age-related diseases, including arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.
Inflammation and Aging
Recently, researchers have started to change their understanding of the aging process. Is it possible that aging is a consequence of the inflammatory process? It seems that such a conclusion is plausible.
Living organisms are constantly exposed to harmful irritants or regularly experiencing injury, which means that the inflammatory response happens over and over again across a lifetime. However, over time, inflammatory cells fail to depart after an acute reaction. They stick around becoming systemic and harmful. The body starts to experience an immune reaction around the clock. What’s more, the normal age process only decreases the body’s ability to heal itself and regulate the inflammatory process. As a result, inflammation runs haywire, breaking down tissues and cells and aging you faster and faster.
Inflammation isn’t merely an internal problem, though. An inflammatory-related process known as glycation is responsible for the formation of wrinkles and sagging, puffy skin—visible indicators of aging.
How to Fight Inflammation
Controlling inflammation might just be the ticket to slowing down the aging process. Here’s how you can do it naturally.
Eat a Clean Diet
Sugary, fried, and processed foods may only worsen inflammation in the body. Instead select real foods like antioxidant-rich berries (particularly blueberries), leafy green vegetables, nuts, olive oil, and wild caught omega-3 fatty fish like salmon and mackerel. Green tea is a great choice of beverage because it contains polyphenols that help fight off free radicals.
If you don’t get enough Omega-3 fats from your diet, it can help to take about 1000 milligrams of fish oil daily. Alpha-lipoic acid protects against cell damage, so taking between 300 and 300 milligrams a day can fight off inflammation. One hundred-fifty to 500 milligrams of Resveratrol, another anti-inflammatory supplement found in fruits with purple skin, may improve markers of inflammation and slow aging in the body.
Get Regular Exercise
Get at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise like walking, swimming, or dancing on most days of the week to lower inflammatory markers.
Practice Stress Management
Chronic stress leads to an increased production of cortisol, a hormone associated with the inflammatory response. Fight stress with a self-care practice that includes relaxing activities you enjoy like meditating or doing some light reading. Cortisol is also in greater supply when you are sleep-deprived, so strive for at least 8 hours of rest each night.
Quit Smoking and Drinking
Smoking hardens the arteries and increases your chances of cardiovascular disease. It also increases the amount of C-reactive proteins (CRP) found in the body, which is linked to inflammation. Get started reversing the damage of smoking by starting a smoking cessation program. Excessive alcohol also speeds up the aging process, so stick to the occasional glass of red wine which contains small amounts of the protective Resveratrol instead.
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