Inflammaging: how inflammation increases our biological age – LivLong

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Inflammaging: how inflammation increases our biological age

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It’s important for medicine and science to study aging so that we can become better at it, and maintain a high quality of life as the years progress. When we talk about aging, and specifically the idea of anti-aging, we are referring to our biological age. Our biological age can be vastly different from our chronological age, for better or worse. 

Our chronological age is how long we’ve been alive for and our biological age is the state of our physiology. 

Our biological age is what is responsible for the signs we associate with age such as joint pain, degrading eyesight, deep wrinkles and decreased mobility. Contrary to the primary narrative- these are not a result of simply growing older. 

Modern day life has several elements that lead to accelerated aging. Through daily habits, collectively our biological ages are surpassing our chronological ages, and to live long, vibrant lives matching our biological age to be congruent or less than our chronological age is the goal. 

One of the largest determinants of accelerated biological aging is the presence and degree of inflammation in the body. The connection between inflammation and aging is so strong, a new term, inflammaging, was coined. 

What is Inflammation? 

Inflammation is a general term that most are familiar with. It is a measurable phenomenon that is characterized by the presence of certain molecules. In the world of science, these are referred to as pro-inflammatory cytokines, and these molecules communicate a danger response to surrounding tissue. 

We require a balance of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory molecules to function optimally. In the short term, such as when healing from an injury or infection, inflammation is beneficial. However, in a normal, healthy state the body has more anti-inflammatory molecules than pro-inflammatory molecules, and we are easily able to regulate this balance with ease. 

If the body transitions into a state where pro-inflammatory molecules begin to run the show for an extended period of time, the unfavourable signs of aging begin to appear.

The connection between Inflammation and Aging 

In the context of accelerated aging, inflammation is present in high amounts. 

A trend researchers and clinicians are noticing is that those with ‘signs of  aging’ have lingering, long-lasting inflammation. They have a harder time balancing the ratio between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory compounds and the compounded impact of lingering inflammation is a breakdown of healthy tissue. 

To get a grasp on the connection between inflammation and aging, we first must understand the concept of aging outside of the reference of time. When looking at the standard definition, it goes a little something like “time-related deterioration of the body”. If that is the case, then why do some people age slower, or faster- better or worse than others? 

The answer is because we ‘age’ in the physiological sense in relation to our environment and lifestyle. The biggest determinant of aging is the extent to which the environment we are exposed to and our daily habits create  inflammation. 

Inflammatory molecules directly harm tissues and they create substances called free radicals. Excess free radicals further cause insult to the body , and neither free radicals or inflammation is specific. This means free radicals will harm everything from our nerves to our eyes, our skin to our joints and on and on.  

In terms of the common complaints of an aging population, we can see that joints, eyes and skin are widely impacted by inflammation and there is much research to validate the inflammatory nature of memory loss, diabetes and other common ailments.  

As tissues like our eyes and joints are exposed to inflammation their structure and function begins to weaken and symptoms like joint pain and diminishing eyesight begin to appear. However, when we begin to reduce inflammation on a substantial level, research shows that there is a level of regeneration that occurs in the body.  

More importantly, the restoration of the inflammatory response slows down aging. It is also a part of any efficacious health plan designed to improve quality of life, reduce the progression of existing symptoms and decrease the likelihood of new symptoms developing. 

Lowering Inflammation

Anti-inflammatory diets, such as the Mediterranean diet and others that limit processed foods and focus on fruits and vegetables have long been revered for their longevity enhancing properties. 

We can look at food as a potent anti-aging medicine as whole, natural foods contain compounds that neutralize inflammation and support the body in balancing the pro/ anti-inflammatory molecules. On the contrary, many of the foods that make up the average diet increase the inflammatory burden in the body. 

Looking to food as the basis for anti-aging is the foundation for decreasing biological age and minimizing the symptoms of aging. 

Targeted Nutrients

The fastest way to reduce inflammation to a level where beneficial effects are seen is to use nutrients that inhibit the formation of inflammatory molecules and stop the cascade of events that allow these molecules to damage tissues while repairing already damaged tissues. 

The three most researched nutrients for reducing inflammation and combatting inflammatory symptoms are astaxanthin, curcumin and palmitoylethanolamide  (P.E.A). 

On their own, each of these nutrients works to minimize inflammation and together they work synergistically from different angles to bring the body into harmony through their actions on inflammation physiology. 

The research shows that astaxanthin, curcumin and P.E.A may improve eyesight, decrease general joint pain and arthritic pain, improve eyesight and have a positive impact on the appearance of skin. They have a wide range of applications because they interrupt inflammatory pathways- the key to aging well. 

Targeting inflammation and restoring balance in the body as it relates to inflammation is one of the most effective anti-aging strategies known from both an aesthetic and quality of life perspective. Adopting an anti-inflammatory diet and using targeted nutrients contributes to a vibrant and robust life. 

We stock Nutritionist approved astaxanthin, curcumin and P.E.A. You can learn more about them by heading to the product page and clicking on the ‘learn the real facts here’ where we share the mechanism of action of each supplement, to help you make an informed decision! 


Author: Lisa Kowalyk, CNP, B.Kin 

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