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#18 Inflammaging: Why do I become inflamed as I get older?

Aging is a process involving numerous molecular and cellular mechanisms within various metabolic and organ systems.

A key aspect of aging is the set of alterations, both functional and structural, in the immune system, which can manifest as an increased incidence of disease, increased prevalence of autoimmunity, low-grade inflammation, reduced ability to fight infections of any kind, and decreased response to vaccination, among many others.

In addition, the immune system itself is also influenced by age-associated changes in the endocrine, nervous, digestive, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, as described in this scientific paper by Müller, L., Di Benedetto, S., & Pawelec, G [1].

In particular, chronic oxidative stress affects the cells of these systems, which modifies the interaction and communication between them. This influences their functionality, homeostasis (cellular balance) and, therefore, may affect longevity.

What is the relationship between the immune system and inflammation?

Multiple interrelated processes contribute to aging, although in some way, all of them are involved in inflammation. At this point, maintaining a well-regulated inflammatory and anti-inflammatory balance appears to be key to maintaining the functional longevity necessary for proper aging. If this balance is disturbed, disease is likely to prevail. For example, chronic stress, including psychological, physical and social stress, is known to adversely affect neuroendocrine and immune functions and may contribute to the progression of aging-associated diseases and mortality.

We know that aging is characterized by the accumulation of senescent cells and that these cells secrete inflammatory molecules (cytokines, chemokines and other inflammatory mediators), being part of the contribution towards a state of low-grade inflammation or commonly known as inflammaging.

How can we promote an anti-inflammatory state of the organism?

In order to be able to age in an optimal way, special attention is required to carry out healthy habits, both in lifestyle and diet.

  • Avoid the chronification of stress.
  • daily and maintain an active life. According to several studies, Vitamin D has been shown to have multiple beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, bone health and regulation of the immune system. [1]
  • Exercise outdoors to obtain vitamin D and do strength exercises to maintain good muscle health and mitochondrial metabolism.
  • Promote intermittent fasting: supports tissue and cell regeneration, digestive rest, activation of the motor migratory system, increases fatty acid oxidation, increases metabolic flexibility, helps improve insulin sensitivity, provides mental clarity, and reduces peripheral inflammation.
  • Eat plenty of healthy fats through foods such as small oily fish, avocado, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), nuts, etc., to promote immune balance and support an anti-inflammatory immune response.
  • Space out meals and avoid snacking at all times. This will ensure that the digestive system is not constantly inflamed and that there is a good eating biorhythm. It also supports autophagy and promotes NADH expression.
  • Avoid all types of processed, refined products and flours, as they all promote a pro-inflammatory state of the body and accelerate the aging process.
  • Reduce insulin and blood sugar peaks, as they have been found to be closely related to premature aging.
  • Quality rest to promote the good condition of all the body’s systems, including the immune system. Sleep can modify the function of the immune system by inducing changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the sympathetic nervous system.

  1. Müller, L., Di Benedetto, S., & Pawelec, G. (2019). The Immune System and Its Dysregulation with Aging. Sub-cellular biochemistry, 91, 21–43. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-3681-2_2 
  2. Sadighi Akha A. A. (2018). Aging and the immune system: An overview. Journal of immunological methods, 463, 21–26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jim.2018.08.005 
  3. Alonso-Fernández, P., & De la Fuente, M. (2011). Role of the immune system in aging and longevity. Current aging science, 4(2), 78–100. https://doi.org/10.2174/1874609811104020078 

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