Ask the Pharmacist: What is inflammaging?

Are you puffy, wrinkling and sagging with a crepey neck and disappearing jawline? Is your visceral fat (belly fat) expanding while you lose lean muscle mass? Do you have pain and stiffness with a decrease in mobility and flexibility coupled with low energy reserve causing fatigue? If you answer yes, it may be time for a mitochondrial prescription to reverse the aging process and put the brakes on energy decline.

According to Dr. Sara Gottfried, “Inflammaging is accelerated aging caused by chronic, low grade inflammation throughout your body”.  From her new book, Younger, Dr. Sara goes on to explain our role in setting up the signs of not so graceful aging by the choices we make in everyday life. Stop upsetting the complex balance between pro and anti-inflammatory mechanisms in your body and set a stage for a healthier metabolism and look younger.

Sift through Dr. Sara Gottfried’s book to find a program that focuses on DNA analysis, and one that has the tools to best support your mitochondria. Who knew how important it could be to know if you are a fast metabolizer of caffeine and medication, or how certain foods can affect your gut microbiome which in turn affects the way you age? Her recommendations include no plastic for water/food storage, eating cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage), increasing quality sleep, moving your body (invest in a stand-up desk), electric toothbrush use with flossing 2-3 daily, supplementing when needed (mainly Vitamin D and Omega 3 FA), creating hormone balance, reframing thinking (identifying unhelpful thoughts) and filtering the air and water in your house.

Your genetics and your epigenetics (how the environment interacts with your genes) have an impact on aging for sure, but even more important for health, is paying attention to how your mitochondria function to give you energy.  Having nutritional deficiencies, a toxic environment or excess sugar can cause damage and inflammation on a cellular level as your powerhouse mitochondria cease to function to capacity. According to Dr. Jack Kruse, it’s all about the electron transport chain (to deep dive into the technical aspect of the mitochondria, seek out his website). In essence, the mitochondria must be able to keep up with your energy needs to keep you looking and feeling young.

Dr. Kruse’s mitochondrial prescription to decrease inflammation includes incorporating light of the correct spectrum into your day. Stand outside, preferably barefoot, in contact with the earth and look toward, not at, the sun and get full spectrum light into the mitochondria of your eyes. He also recommends walking or camping in a pine forest for the increased oxygen, drinking pure spring water, eating marine foods, meditating and keeping your blood sugar in an optimal range as ways to keep your energy fires stoked to prevent inflammation.

Dave Asprey’s new book, Head Strong has an entire program dedicated to improving your mitochondrial function to reduce inflammation to keep your brain functioning well. The easiest and least expensive recommendations are similar to Dr. Kruse’s ideas. “Expose your eyes and bare skin to natural direct sunlight for 10-20 minutes every day” is first on Dave’s list. However, decreasing your exposure to blue light from our tech world of TV, computers and cell phones, especially at night, is beneficial for better sleep quality.  He then suggests getting your muscles active in the morning, deep breathing, and meditation (or mindfulness exercises) to increase the growth of nerve tissue. The brain benefits of reducing physical, chemical and emotional stress are just as important as eating organic nutritionally dense food. Dave’s bulletproof diet principles point out that fat is necessary to boost cognition, learning, memory, and mood. Remember to include those omega 3 fatty acids        ( EPA and DHA) from wild caught Alaskan salmon and sardines into your diet as well as coconut oil, olive oil, eggs and avocados. Throw in brightly colored vegetables and fruits that have polyphenols and bioflavonoids and you will produce an abundance of chemical messengers for brain health.

Inflammaging is complex, involving not only your body’s organs and tissues but the healthy functioning of your millions of mitochondria. The choices that you make and how you treat your body can directly influence inflammation which in turn affects how rapidly you age. Make an effective plan to gracefully age with a focus on preventing or slowing the onset of inflammation by picking a protocol that matches what works for you. Now is the time to eat, sleep, think, move and supplement for vitality.

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