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INFLAMMATION - YOU SHOULD CARE

INFLAMMATION - YOU SHOULD CARE

Why care?

Achy joints? Wounds healing more slowly? Increased risk of chronic diseases, and dementia! 

These are the result of increases in inflammatory molecules over a lifetime. With age, you tend to lose control of inflammation, starting around 50, and accelerating at 60, due to the increase in the amounts of pro-inflammatory cytokines and other inflammation-related molecules in the blood. This links to the increased risk of chronic disease.

Impact of inflammation

If nothing else gets you to take healthy action, understanding the impact of inflammation on you should.

Unless of course fatigue, joint pain, digestive issues, brain fog and the risk of chronic disease sound convenient.

Chronic inflammation can also exacerbate the risks of developing more serious health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers. It also links to mental health, contributing to increased risks of depression and anxiety.

If that's not bad enough, DNA damage in the telomeres also happens over time. Each time one of your cells divides, its telomeres shorten until they get to a critical length and become damaged, which in turn, turns certain genes on and off, which affects the function of mitochondria which are the parts that produce energy. This impacts the cell and sparks inflammation. Telomeres and aging are a whole separate study and discussion. Core however is inflammation.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is a response of the body's immune system and can a double-edged sword. Often beneficial in fighting off infections and healing injuries, however. As inflammation becomes chronic, it gets harder for the immune system just to its job, which includes fighting cancers. 

When inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to a myriad of health issues, particularly in middle-aged men.

Have you got a blazing torch of inflammation or is it just smouldering right now?

Signals of smouldering inflammation

  • Fatigue and low energy: Chronic inflammation can sap your vitality, leaving you feeling constantly drained.
  • Unexplained aches and pains: Stiffness in joints, generalized muscle soreness, and even headaches can be indicators of inflammatory processes.
  • Trouble sleeping: Inflammation can disrupt the delicate balance of your sleep-wake cycle, leading to insomnia or restless sleep.
  • Changes in weight: Unexplained weight gain or loss can be a symptom of chronic inflammation's impact on metabolism.
  • Digestive issues: Chronic inflammation can manifest as bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, or heartburn.

Inflammation - Driving factors

Inflammation as you get older is stoked by (1) aging, (2) lifestyle choices like diet, alcohol, no exercise and smoking, (3) stress, it releases cortisol which promotes inflammation, (4) underlying medical conditions, and (5) gut health imbalances.

But you cannot or should not shut down inflammation, or a simple infection may become deadly. 

Certain foods are also major contributors to inflammation, and when consumed in excess, can exacerbate inflammatory responses in the body.

The short story is, to try to minimise or avoid table sugar, cakes, pastries, white bread, and pasta, processed and fried foods, meat cooked at high temperatures, and excessive alcohol. Got it? 

The long story

  1. Sugar (including high fructose corn syrup): Table sugar, Drinks high in added sugars, sweetened teas, etc, Sugars increase inflammation which can lead to disease, increased uric acid, and insulin resistance (1). 
    Can also counter the anti-inflammatory effects of omega-3 fatty acids.

  2. Trans fats: Also high in fat and calories, just saying. Found in baked goods, processed snacks, and fried foods, mainly because frying can increase the production of advanced glycation end products (AGE) which drive inflammation. High levels of AGEs are linked to oxidative stress, Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart disease, and renal failure.

  3. Red and processed meats: Nooo, I hear you scream. Meats cooked at high temperatures including processed meats such as ham, sausages, and bacon as well as BBQing, roasting, and frying lead to the formation of AGEs and can contribute to heart disease, cancer (2), metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. 

    Marinating meats in acidic solutions such as lemon juice can reduce AGE's by 50% (3)

  4. Refined carbohydrates: White bread, pastries, cereals, cookies, cakes, and other refined carbs in excess drive inflammation. Refined carbs have had most of their fibre removed, and have a higher glycaemic index, which raises blood sugar more than low GI foods, and promotes inflammation.

  5. Alcohol: Excessive alcohol consumption can lead to inflammation and damage to body tissues.

  6. Preservatives and additives: Common in processed foods, these can contribute to inflammatory responses.

  7. Dairy products: In some individuals, dairy can trigger inflammation, especially in those with a sensitivity or allergy to lactose.

Anti-inflammatory behaviour

Exercise: regular activity supports DNA repair, mitochondrial function and may help reduce risk of chronic disease.

Diet: Mediterranean style diets help sustain gut bacteria, which as they weaken with age, contribute to inflammation.

Weight: Body fat releases cytokines that promote inflammation, managing weight can help reduce inflammatory activities in the body.

Less alcohol, and smoking: Yeah, not good, see above.

Sleep and relaxation: Helps reduce stress. Chronic stress linked to shortening telomeres, accelerated aging and chronic diseases.

  

Inflammation can occur in response to many triggers including pollution, injury, sickness, and of course poor dietary choices. You have the most control over your nutrition.

 

Nobody ever ate bad food by accident.
Have less accidents.

Adopt, as best you can, an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle:

  • Diet: Eat fruits and vegetables, rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients.
    • Choose whole grains over refined grains.
    • Limit red meat.
    • Include healthy fats, like those found in avocados, olive oil, flaxseeds, walnuts and fatty fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
    • Incorporate lean proteins, such as chicken, fish, and plant-based proteins.
    • Hydrate with water and herbal teas.
    • Limit the intake of the abovementioned inflammation-promoting foods.
  • Exercise: Try get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week.
  • Sleep: 7-8 hours sleep a night, helps regulate inflammatory pathways
  • Regular checkups.
  • Supplements: Consider Omega 3 fish oil or Vitamin D. Can help in certain circumstances.
  • Stress management

Anti-inflammatory herbs

  • Turmeric - Curcumin, a compound in turmeric may reduce inflammation, see detailed study here (4). It is also considered the strongest, and in simple terms, there is promising research that shows it acts as a shield to healthy cells during an inflammatory response. (8)

  • Ginger - Broad anti-inflammatory actions and is widely known to help with mild digestion and nausea. Contains 6-Gingerol that may help ease inflammation and pain. Ginger modulates biochemical pathways activated in chronic inflammation. See (5)

  • Cinnamon - Anti-inflammatory properties which can help ease swelling, and can also play a role in blood sugar, cholesterol, and neurodegenerative diseases. See more (6)

  • Garlic - Anti-inflammatory anti-arthritic properties have been proven, and a little can go a long way. Garlic has a long history of medicinal use and may also help anti-oxidative stress. There is a lot of detail in this study. (7

  • Black pepper - includes several compounds that impart anti-inflammatory effects and enhance the absorption of curcumin (turmeric)

Turmeric, Ginger, and garlic extracts are included in Old Bull Health, Testosterone & Immunity formula, which you can find out more about here.

Anti inflammatory foods

Anti-inflammatory food examples

  • Tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Coffee, cocoa, and green tea
  • Green leafy vegetables, think kale, spinach.
  • Nuts, think almonds.
  • Fatty fish, think salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines.
  • Fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, and oranges.

The impact on our health

Chronic inflammation is a significant risk, particularly as we age. It can affect physical well-being, mental health, and quality of life.

Persistent inflammation has been linked to the increased risks of chronic diseases, which are prevalent in middle and older age, and which will impact quality of life.

Your call

Understand inflammation, and the role of diet in inflammation as it is important for middle-aged men. By identifying and reducing the intake of foods that trigger inflammation, men can try to better manage, and reduce the risk of chronic inflammation.

Combating inflammation is not just about short-term relief, but about long-term health and vitality and ultimately quality of life in later years.

What changes am I trying?

As a mid-fifties male who wants to live and love longer, I decided to make changes but not throw the baby out with the proverbial bath water.

Slow and steady, or it can be harder to maintain good habits in the longer term I find, but it has to be done, so adjust and improve as you go. That is my plan for the new year anyway, with immediate effect:

  1. Stopped flat white coffees +1 sugar, started long blacks with no sugar and a dash of oat milk.
  2. Started green tea, especially in the evening to avoid snacking.
  3. Gone military on eliminating chocolate, cake, cookies, and related. Expensive and doesn't help with anything other than 30 seconds after you've eaten, and then you regret it. Just stop.
  4. Take grilled rather than fried options, and with salad, not chips. No KFC!
  5. Drinking more water during the day, consciously.
  6. Cut down a bit on meat, and switched to lean, lower heat, smaller portion, and fish options.

I also am keeping up my Old Bull health daily protein + Testosterone & Immunity Formula mix, with water.

As always, this is not intended to be health advice, you should know the drill by now. We are all unique, so if unsure, consult a medical professional before making changes to your diet etc.

 

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