How Our Modern Lifestyle May Accelerate Aging: Chronic Inflammation

February 2014, Xtend-Life Expert

Summary

In the previous blogs glycation, AGEs, excess free radicals, oxidative stress and abnormal methylation were described as key degenerative aging processes. Experts suggest that these are most likely triggered by the frenetic, toxic, nutrient poor lifestyle previously described.

In the previous blogs glycation, AGEs, excess free radicals, oxidative stress and abnormal methylation were described as key degenerative aging processes. Experts suggest that these are most likely triggered by the frenetic, toxic, nutrient poor lifestyle previously described.

These same experts also agree that another degenerative process - chronic inflammation - may be the most critical of them all… This blog explains how and why.

Robust evidence supports the view that chronic inflammation is the root cause of much degenerative disease and aging (ref 1). Let’s look at what chronic inflammation is and why it is so damaging.

What is chronic inflammation?

There is inflammation and chronic inflammation.

‘Normal’ inflammation is healthy. It is the body's attempt at self-protection. Inflammation is an immune response to a harmful stimuli, including damaged cells, irritants, or pathogens. Think about when you hit your thumb with a hammer…it hurts and swells up. The swelling is like a cushion or protection. Without inflammation, infections and wounds would never heal. 

However, sometimes inflammation causes further inflammation; it can become self-perpetuating and long lasting. That is when ‘normal’ inflammation becomes ‘chronic’ and very dangerous. 

This happens when excessive inflammation causes toxic chemicals to eat away at body tissues. Eventually this may lead to inflammatory disorders like heart disease, dementia, arthritis, diabetes and auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and type 1 diabetes. 

An example of one of these toxic chemicals is MDA (malondialdehyde). MDA is a dangerous chemical by product resulting from the action of free radicals on the fatty membranes of your cells. It is a major factor in the production of AGEs from glycation. This same chemical, MDA, is also implicated in inflammation. 

The functioning of MDA is a good example of how nothing in the body works in isolation:  if you reduce free radicals in your body by taking anti-oxidants, then you may be able to reduce the oxidation of your cell membranes. This in turn can reduce the formation of MDA, glycation, AGEs and chronic inflammation. 

However, it is not possible to control all the free radicals. No matter how many anti-oxidants you take, MDA is still going to form…and will continue to attempt to produce AGEs which in turn can contribute to inflammation. 

Another example of the multi causal nature of inflammation relates to excitotoxicity. 

Excitotoxicity occurs when brain cells get overexcited due to excess glutamate in the diet. MSG and other flavour enhancers are the culprits here and should be kept to a minimum in your diet. 

If allowed to continue the result is the death of brain cells possibly leading to strokes and dementia. 

Another seriously dangerous chemical associated with chronic inflammation is tumour necrosis factor (TNF). TNF actively promotes the degeneration of your brain and nerves. It is activated by a combination of free radicals and AGEs.

How can chronic inflammation be reduced?

Given the extensive damaging systematic impact of chronic inflammation, how can you reduce it? 

Key to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle is balance and moderation in diet, exercise and stress levels. Excess in anything: weight, food, drink and stress is likely to prompt some inflammatory response. 

Certain nutrients are particularly anti-inflammatory such as Omega3 fish oils, flavonoids, alpha lipoic acid, carnosine, turmeric, glutathione and resveratrol. 

Organic, preferably raw vegetables and fruits are particularly good at helping to alkalanise the body which in turn reduces acidity and inflammation.

Conclusion

You can see how chronic inflammation is multi-causal and multi impacting. Only when it is addressed in tandem with the other key causes of aging can the likelihood of degenerative disease and premature aging be reduced. 

So far we have seen that these causes are glycation, AGEs, excess free radicals, oxidative stress and abnormal methylation. There are three more: 

  • DNA Degradation
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Toxicity / impaired detoxification 

The next few blogs will examine how these causes contribute to degenerative disease and aging. 

References:

  1. Key role of chronic inflammation: http://www.wellofcourse.net/articles/article/7595884/144133.htm

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