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Self-Care

What Does "Inflamaging" Mean & Ways To Avoid It

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When it comes to the conversation around aging, particularly within medical research and the realm of health and wellness, it is paramount to incorporate the concept of inflammaging thoroughly. A meld between “aging” and “inflammation” inflammaging refers to low-grade, chronic inflammation developed during aging and its influence on the pathogenesis of age-related diseases.

And because inflammation is not a standalone operation but one impacted by multiple different triggers, it makes sense that both age-related illnesses and aging share several fundamental mechanistic pillars that vastly tie on inflammation.

Consider your body as a whole, integrated ecosystem divided into tiny miniature warriors, your cells. These influential messengers, also called cytokines or proteins responsible for signaling and communication amid cells in immune responses, either perform to defend your body against a threat or initiate the inflammatory process as part of its natural immune reaction. In doing so, your body can launch an acute inflammatory response (a short-term inflammatory cycle that ceases once the damaged tissue is repaired, e.g., when fighting off bacteria and viruses). 

However, if left unchecked, your body can also continue to send inflammatory cells even when there is no external danger — pro-inflammatory factors start to dominate anti-inflammatory markers, and chronic inflammation becomes standard, bringing a massive toll on the aging body.

In short, inflammation continues to be potential ground for more health concerns and one of the major culprits in premature aging — from mental and fertility imbalances to changes in hair, skin, and nails. Moreover, as the long-term consequence of the chronic physiological stimulus of the immune system, inflammation is a ubiquitous topic impacting almost every human function, but one you can positively fine-tune with suitable, healthful dietary and lifestyle choices, among others. To jump-start your anti-aging journey, here are two key areas you can dive into for better health:

Anti-Aging & Nutrition

Taking a look at our diet and meeting our body’s needs is crucial to minimizing inflammation and boosting our overall sense of wellness. Following Hippocrates’ well-known mantra, “let food be thy medicine and let medicine be thy food,” in 400 BC, food can indeed be our best therapy when chosen consciously and with optimal health on top of mind. 

Starting with Omega-3 fatty acids, these are essential nutrients that ought to come from our diet because, like several other nutrients, our bodies cannot produce Omega-3’s by themselves — think, fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and more. Further, fatty acids like Omega-3s are required to preserve the integrity of our skin’s natural protective barrier function against environmental elements and the loss of moisture and collagen. Other anti-aging nutrients to diligently include in our diet are:

  • Vitamin D: Fatty fish (hello, again), egg yolks, fortified cereals, beef liver, fortified orange juice, etc. 
  • Essential Amino Acids: Dairy, quinoa, tofu, eggs, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, etc.
  • Antioxidants: Dark chocolate, leafy greens, beets, artichokes, pecans, blueberries, goji berries, red cabbage, spinach, etc.
  • Vitamin B: Leafy greens, salmon, milk, organ meats, eggs, mussels, legumes, nutritional yeast, yogurt, etc.
  • Magnesium: Nuts, avocados, dark chocolate, fiber-packed whole grains, seeds, bananas, etc.

Amp Up Your Lifestyle

Besides nutrition, hormone health, genetics, and gut health, taking a look at our lifestyle choices and day-to-day activities is pivotal to keeping inflammaging at bay! Some of the most significant lifestyle-derived elements concerning aging involve stress, sleep quality, community, spirituality and relationships, and oxidative stress and exercise. 

Remember that every step toward sounder health requires patience, compassion, curiosity, and self-understanding. As you begin to modify and make more nourishing choices in any of these areas, you will inevitably affect all other areas of your life that synergistically interact to promote and sustain your life-long well-being. Bon anti-inflammaging voyage!

 

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