Home 5 Frank's Column 5 Inflammation and the chronic diseases associated with aging

Inflammation and the chronic diseases associated with aging

Generally speaking, what we see in aging humans is, looking from the outside, a wrinkling and excess of skin with loss of elasticity, loss of muscle volume and accumulation of fat, particularly in the middle and lower body. Look under that and you will see a general stiffening of tissues, loss of bone mass and density, shrinkage of the brain, joint cartilage and some organ’s size, and a slowing of energy production in all body cells. For those who live in good health approaching or beyond the age of one hundred years, death usually comes in the form of rapid infection that the immune system fails to conquer, often pneumonia, which takes us out in a few days.

That’s not a bad way to go, These are people that have been spared the chronic, degenerative, inflammatory-based diseases that produce great pain, debilitation and early death, such as atherosclerosis, arthritis or a bevy of other ‘itises’, cancer or Alzheimer’s. These diseases are brought about by the immune system turning on us and seeing our own tissues as some form of invader; these are the ones we want to avoid for life. These conditions are proving to be caused by age-related systemic inflammation ramp up, largely caused by either chromic over eating or eating wrongly. The fat we hold around our midsection is proving to be the primary source of those inflammatory chemicals. Recent studies have revealed that abdominal fat attracts and harbors large populations of macrophages that spew out inflammatory cytokines such as interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, and TNF-a (tumor necrosis factor-alpha). These chemical messengers mediate inflammation in remote tissues throughout the body.

The bullets used by immune cells to combat invaders are essentially free radicals of various kinds. They go about their damaging work by targeting invading bacteria and viruses, shooting out these charged molecules to damage their structure, and then calling in others to eat them and digest and eliminate their materials. Systemic inflammation results in the immune system attacking our own cells in a similar manner. Over time this damage manifests itself as those outward signs of aging, but more importantly, damage at the cellular lever results in the three big killers heart disease, cancer and dementia, along with diabetes.

The level of systemic inflammation drops in a few weeks of under eating or trading the intake of anti-inflammatory foods for those that foster inflammation. The foods to increase are vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish. Those to eliminate are manufactured foods, refined oils and sugar-based junk foods. Fight inflammation and rapid aging – eat real foods – forget those that come in a bag or a box, most that come in cans, and those things called desserts. Then, you must move your body – exercise is critical to lowering fat content and building muscle. The really good news – 85% cocoa chocolate is now an anti-oxidant loaded health food!

Good Living – Frank

Frank Wilhelmi

Frank Wilhelmi

Frank Wilhelmi – Retired/consultant electronic engineer researches and reports practical strategies for optimizing health and fitness into advanced age. “I have a passion for living life to the fullest, and helping others to do the same.” A rapidly growing body of knowledge now enables us to extend our health and fitness decades beyond popular expectations.

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