As someone who cares about their health, you’ve likely heard of inflammation. It’s your body’s natural response to trauma, injury, or illness. With this type of inflammation, your cells are temporarily protected as they heal or fight off pathogens. When the inflammation passes, your cells return to normal.
However, another kind of inflammation is linked to diseases like atherosclerosis, arthritis, hypertension, cancer, and mortality in the elderly. It’s a low-grade, background, consistent inflammation that speeds up the aging process known as inflammaging.
Causes of Inflammaging
The Presence of Senescent Cells:
Senescent cells are cells that no longer replicate as normal. Our bodies naturally clear these cells, but as we age, this clearing process slows down. Some doctors believe that removing built-up senescent cells can slow down the aging process and reduce the chances of developing age-related illnesses.
Immunosenescence is when your immune system starts producing inappropriate or unnecessary responses to stimuli. Not only does this cause inflammation, but it slows down the natural process of the immune system, which is responsible for clearing away the above-mentioned senescent cells.
Senescent cells aren’t the only cells to be cleared by the body. Damaged or malformed cells also need to be swept away, but they are also less likely to be removed efficiently with an aging immune system. Not only do the rogue cells cause inflammation, but damaged cells release DAMPs (damage-associated molecular patterns), which have been heavily scrutinized in recent years for their ability to mimic pathogens in their destructive power.
A Diminishing Microbiome:
Our microbiome is made of a diverse array of bacteria that protect against disease and infection. Some forms of bacteria are more effective than others at reducing inflammation, and these kinds tend to decline as we get older. People with the healthiest microbiomes take action to diversify their gut bacteria with probiotics and prebiotics.
What Does All This Mean for You?
There are some inevitabilities when it comes to inflammaging – but there are still things you can do to minimize its effect on your body and on ailments associated with aging. For instance, maintaining a healthy diet, cleaning your environment of toxins, and reducing your cortisol (stress-induced hormone) levels can all play a role in keeping you feeling younger, longer.