Aging. It’s a natural part of life whether we like it or not. A glance in the mirror will show those wrinkles and thinning hair, but what you can’t see is what’s happening inside the body. Something called “inflammaging” can make you age even faster and increase your risk for developing serious health conditions.

Let’s take a deeper look at inflammation and how it affects you as you age.

What is inflammaging?

Inflammation is a protective response by your body’s immune system. It is how the body normally reacts to injury, disease, or infection from bacteria or viruses. That acute response is needed for healing. 

Researchers have learned that as we age, the body develops increased inflammation that does not go away. This chronic inflammation is believed to accelerate the aging process and contribute to various health conditions, including:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis)
  • Cancer
  • Heart disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

In addition, chronic inflammation can also impact brain health and contribute to frailty. Understanding the relationship between inflammation and aging is an important area of anti-aging research, especially as life expectancy increases.

How to fight chronic inflammation

While we can’t stop getting older, we can manage inflammaging. Like Botox for lines and wrinkles, nutrition and fitness are your best weapons to fight chronic inflammation. 

  • Eat an anti-inflammatory diet. We all know that some foods are better for us than others. When it comes to managing inflammation, a diet that focuses on fruits, leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, fatty fish such as salmon, nuts, olive oil and whole grain foods are key. Equally important is avoiding highly processed foods, refined carbohydrates, high-fat dairy, fried foods, and red or processed meats. 
  • Quit Smoking. “Smoking is a known risk factor for rheumatoid arthritis and promotes inflammation throughout the body,” says Matthew White, DO, a rheumatologist with Lifespan Rheumatology. 
  • Stay active. Regular exercise acts as a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Just 30 minutes a day of brisk walking, swimming, or biking can have impressive results. “Stretching and strength training activities are also helpful,” adds Dr. White.
  • See your doctor regularly. Having a relationship with your primary care provider is beneficial, especially as we age. It’s important to get regular screenings and keep an eye on things like blood pressure and cholesterol. Be sure to discuss any changes you are experiencing so, together, you can manage your overall health and wellness. 

Remember, while you can’t stop the aging process, you can make your later years healthier and happier through some simple lifestyle changes. For more tips on staying healthy in your later years, visit the Aging section of our Lifespan Living health and wellness blog. 

Lifespan Blog Team

The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.