Aging and Longevity – 4. Inflammation
Low-level inflammation causes millions to die every year. This type of inflammation can easily be identified with a simple blood test. Usually, it can easily be treated with a combination of all herbs and nutrients. In years to come it will be measured routinely, because it is such an effective predictor of disease.
What Is Low Level Inflammation?
We generally know when we have an inflammation, because it is characterized by the classic indications of heat, swelling, redness and pain.
However when there is low-level inflammation there are no obvious external signs. But what is certain is that this low level inflammation is an accurate predictor of many serious diseases.
What Problems Does It Create?
There is very clear data showing that low-level inflammation makes heart and artery disease much more likely. This has been confirmed by analyzing the results of major studies.
By itself, this is a very important factor in health and aging. Ofter all, half the population of Western countries die of heart and artery disease.
But there is more. Low-level inflammation is also an accurate predictor of many other degenerative diseases, including;
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Arthritis and rheumatism, and
- Some, probably many, cancers
How Can It Be Measured?
The actual causative factors of inflammation – inflammatory cytokines – can be measured; but this is expensive. It is better first to measure two blood components which indicate the presence or absence of inflammation; then home in on the cytokines only if necessary.
These two blood components, which accompany inflammation, are easily and (fairly) cheaply measured. They are c-reactive protein (CRP) and fibrinogen. In the UK you might even get your doctor to get these measured for you.
If these two are very high and there is no obvious inflammation present (such as an infection), then some sort of low level inflammation is present. This inflammation will be wearing out body tissues and certainly leading us towards degenerative diseases.
The level of CRP you are aiming for is less than 1 mg/L (milligram per litre) for men, and less than 1.5 mg/L for women (Philip Miller, 2005, p184 – see end of next paragraph). Over 2 mg/L for men and 3.5 mg/L for women leads to significant additional risk for heart disease, and other degenerative diseases.
How Can Inflammation Be Treated?
Low-level inflammation can be treated through diet and by using supplements.
Diet: this is pretty much the standard anti-aging diet, namely:
- Plenty of fresh vegetables, many of them preferably raw.
- Reduce to a minimum potatoes, pasta, bread and rice.
- Reduce all types of sugar to a minimum – honey and maple syrup included
- Moderate amounts of fruit, mainly berries, eaten whole and not as juice.
- Choose foods low on the glycemic index.
- Eat healthy fats. Apart from trans fats and saturated fats, which should obviously be avoided, Omega 6 fatty acids promote inflammation. These are present in most oils except olive oil, and in meat and dairy products as well as in grains. Grass-fed meat is lower in Omega 6 fats than grain-fed meat. Omega 3 fatty acids on the other hand, are anti-inflammatory. They are found in olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish and in vegetables in small amounts.
Supplements: The top supplement to take to reduce generalised inflammation is fish oil. All adults are advised to take at least 1 gramme of DHA + EPA daily, and up to 3 grammes. Probably 2 grammes is good to aim for. This is provided by 6 capsules a day of the typical omega 3 supplement – but check the label – some are stronger than others. Look on the label for the level of EPA and DHA and add them together. You are looking for 2 grammes or 2000 mg. (Ignore the total amount of fish oil – you are looking just for EPA and DHA.)
Other anti-inflammatory supplements include bromelain – from pineapple, the hormone DHEA and vitamin K.
Herbs which can counteract low-level inflammation include natural, ginger, turmeric and ginkgo.
The exact treatment protocol use will be best determined by a professional you’re working with. Or you might start with that given in Philip Miller‘s excellent book “Life Extension Revolution” (2005 edition, page 194).
The 4 ‘-ations’ – Essential Indicators of Health
The 4 ‘-ations’ – which include inflammation – are four very damaging processes which cause aging and which produce the degenerative disease which kill most of us. The other three of these processes are methylation, oxidation and glycation.
The knowledge of how to deal with these 4 killers is growing rapidly, mainly among the few researchers who are interested in longevity or healthy aging.
It typically takes 25 years for the medical profession to absorb new information of this magnitude. This means it is up to us as individuals to learn about, and take control of, these processes.
Fortunately, the evidence is clear and the solutions are quite simple. To me, this is an absolutely fascinating topic. I hope I have conveyed that to you in these four articles, and that you find them useful.