Flashback Friday: How to Counter the Inflammation of Aging

Flashback Friday: How to Counter the Inflammation of Aging

August 8, 2019 36 By William Morgan


“How to Counter the Inflammation of Aging” One of the most recognized consequences
of aging is a decline in immune function, illustrated by vulnerability to dying from
the flu, poor response to vaccinations. But about 20 years ago a paper
was published showing that the immune cells of 80-year olds
produced significantly more pro-inflammatory signals, suggesting
the worst of both worlds: a decline in the part of the immune system
that fights specific infections, but an aggravation of nonspecific overreactions
that can lead to inflammation. This has since been formalized in a
concept referred to as “inflamm-ageing,” a chronic low-grade inflammation
we now know is typical of aging, which may be responsible for the decline
and the onset of disease in the elderly. So what can we do about it? Inflammaging appears to be a major
consequence of growing old. Can it be prevented or cured? The key to successful
aging and longevity may be to decrease
chronic inflammation without compromising an acute
response when exposed to pathogens. How are we going to do that?
Nutrition. What we eat is probably the most
powerful and pliable tool that we have to attain a chronic and systemic
modulation of the aging process. In the first systematic review of the
associations between dietary patterns and biomarkers of inflammation ever
published, the dietary patterns associated with inflammation were
almost all meat-based or so-called “Western” diet patterns, while vegetable and fruit-based
or “healthy” patterns tended to be inversely associated, meaning
more plant-based, less inflammation. The reason why meat is associated
with inflammation may be because of both the animal protein
and the animal fat. In the first interventional study
that separately evaluated the effects of vegetable and animal
protein on inflammatory status as it relates to obesity
and metabolic syndrome when you’re trying to lose weight, what they found was that a higher intake
of animal origin protein — specifically meat — is associated
with higher plasma levels of inflammatory markers
in obese adults. The reason obesity is associated
with increased risk of many cancers may be because of obesity-
associated inflammation. Obesity-driven inflammation may
stimulate prostaglandin-mediated estrogen biosynthesis
in breast tissues. That means the inflammation
may activate the enzyme that allows breast tumors
to make their own estrogen via this inflammatory compound
called prostaglandin. If you measure the level of
prostaglandins in women’s urine it correlates with breast cancer risk. And how do you get high levels
of this inflammatory compound? Smoking, a high saturated
fat diet, and obesity. Why does eating saturated fat lead
to prostaglandin production? Because prostaglandins are
made from arachidonic acid, and arachidonic acid is a major
ingredient in animal fats. And so animal fats
contain arachidonic acid; arachidonic acid is what our body
produces inflammatory compounds like prostaglandins with, and they can then go on to
stimulate breast cancer growth, and may also play a role
in colon cancer, lung cancer, or head and neck cancer as well, whereas whole plant foods
have anti-inflammatory effects, though some plants
are better than others. The folks made to eat five-a-day of high
antioxidant fruits and vegetables, like berries and greens,
had a significantly better impact of reducing systemic inflammation
and liver dysfunction, compared to five-a-day
of the more common low antioxidant fruits and veggies
like bananas and lettuce.