There is near universal agreement amongst health researchers that low level but continuous (chronic) inflammation in cells and tissues is a key factor in ageing itself and almost all age-related illnesses (Ref.)
So much so that longevity researchers use the term 'inflamm-ageing'.
That inflammation can be caused by excess blood sugar, malfunctioning of the immune system, environmental toxins, poor quality fats in the diet and free radical damage.
An inflamed cell inhibits nutrients getting into the cell, toxins being removed from the cell and energy being produced.
Colin Rose is a Senior Associate Member of the Royal Society of Medicine, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is the Founder and Director of Research and Innovation of Uni-Vite Healthcare and author of a recent book: Delay Ageing: Healthy to 100, where he reveals how to slow ageing and, therefore, help prevent later-life illness.
On why he wrote this series of articles on how to live A Longer, Healthier Life, Colin says:
"The following chart – created by the American Association for the Advancement of Science – is sobering.
"Why the steep increase in all these health threats after the age of say 55? Previously we might have muttered – “Just getting older, what can you expect?”
"But a mountain of recent research has uncovered the processes that are driving all these age-related diseases and how to counteract them for a longer, healthier life.
"That’s what I explore in this series."
Acute (temporary) vs. Chronic (long-term) inflammation
If you are bitten by an insect, suffer a bacterial infection or receive a cut, your body activates your immune system, and sends out inflammatory cells (called cytokines). Skin becomes red and often swollen by the influx of these cytokines.
That’s temporary, beneficial, ACUTE inflammation.
Normally, the inflammatory cells attack the bacteria or heal the damaged tissue and gradually this visible inflammation subsides. But sometimes your immune system doesn’t do its job fully, and internal, invisible inflammation persists. You have CHRONIC inflammation.
This harmful type of inflammation is a symptom of many chronic diseases, such as:
- > Arthritis
- > Alzheimer’s disease
- > Type 2 diabetes
- > IBS
- > Asthma
And it sets up an environment where cancer can more easily spread, where mitochondria are damaged, dementia risk increases and heart disease develops.
As mentioned, chronic inflammation is mostly undetectable – which makes it so dangerous. But occasionally it does manifest as fatigue, joint pain or skin rash – as in arthritis and psoriasis.
Some lifestyle factors also contribute to inflammation in the body. They include:
- > Drinking alcohol in excess – over 17 units a week
- > Having a high body mass index (BMI) of over 30 – unless you are exceptionally muscular
- > Lack of exercise
- > Frequent stress
Any process that reduces this chronic inflammation will have a positive effect on your health and will help slow ageing.
Link between free radical damage and inflammation
Free radicals are unstable and highly reactive molecules that are produced in the body as a by-product of metabolism.
Metabolism occurs when oxygen is ‘burned’ with fat or glucose to produce energy. So free radical damage is also called ‘oxidative stress.’ Some free radical production is natural and inevitable, but excess free radical production is the danger.
Free radicals are also created by exposure to toxins in the environment, ultraviolet light (sunlight) and even some viruses. Free radicals have a lifespan of only a fraction of a second, but during that time they can damage DNA, potentially leading to cancer.
Free radicals also damage cell membranes in the brain, the lining of arteries leading to heart disease, the lens of the eye leading to blindness, and proteins in the body. It is a ‘rogue’ protein called beta amyloid that characterises Alzheimer’s.
So free radicals cause damage to cells and cellular damage triggers an immune response – and inflammation.
Therefore, cellular inflammation and free radical damage to cells are both linked and centrally important in ageing (Ref.).
Which means that anti-inflammatory and antioxidant foods and nutritional supplements are an important part of a successful ageing strategy.
Antioxidants in the foods we eat can neutralise free radicals, reducing the risk of oxidative damage. Examples of dietary antioxidants include vitamins A, C, E, beta-carotene, colour compounds called anthocyanidins in berries, Omega 3, a nutrient called EGCG in green tea, and many more.
The body can also produce its own antioxidants which are more powerful than antioxidant supplements – and in another article in this series we saw that turning on the Nrf2 gene could increase the body’s natural antioxidant, glutathione.
An anti-inflammatory and therefore anti-ageing diet
There are ‘hot spots’ in certain parts of the world where far more people than usual live happy and disease-free lives, well into old age. Places with healthy centenarians. They are often called ‘Blue Zones’, a term coined by the researcher Dan Buettner. The lifestyle and diet of these centenarians are the key.
So, it’s no coincidence that the Mediterranean Diet and the Japanese Diet (and especially the Okinawan) are diets that increase health span. They are very high in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nutrients.
But we can do even better.
Because there is a food plan called the DASH Diet. It stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
There is also a food plan called the MIND Diet – a modification of the Mediterranean and DASH diet created by Rush University in the US. Studies published in The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association (Ref.) show the MIND Diet can averagely reduce the risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s by 54% and even a ‘moderate adherence’ produces a 35% reduction.
Our ‘Delay Ageing’ Food Plan combines all these – the Mediterranean, Japanese, MIND and DASH diets – into a ‘best of the best’ plan.
A study in 2022 (Ref.) showed that this type of combined plan can increase health span by over 8 years.
Maintaining and improving immune function
A healthy immune system is vital in preventing infection, clearing residual inflammation, removing senescent cells, and in clearing pre-cancerous mutated cells.
The pandemic has made T cells a rather well-known medical term. T cells, a type of white blood cell, mature in the thymus. (T for thymus and thus T for T cells).
T cells protect the body against cancerous cells and cells that have become infected by pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses.
The problem is that the thymus (located just behind the breastbone) shrinks significantly over time, becomes ‘fatty’ and less effective – a process called immuno-senescence.
This causes a decline in the production of new T cells and correlates with an increased risk of cancer. Even flu vaccines become less than 50% effective in people over 60 due to reduced T cells! (Ref.)
So counteracting a reduction in immune cell decline is yet another ageing factor to overcome.
How? Extensive research confirms that the elements of the Delay Ageing Food and Lifestyle Plan powerfully support the immune system (Ref.)
We also know that Vitamins A, C, D3 and E, together with zinc and selenium are vital immune support nutrients.
As many as 42% of Americans are deficient in vitamin D3 (Ref.) and the figure is similar in the UK.
The latest research indicates that vitamin D3 at a level of 800 IU (International Units) a day in the summer and 2,000 IU in the winter appears optimum. How Vitamin D cuts the risk of cancer - NutriShield. Vitamin D3 is a very inexpensive supplement and should be on everyone’s supplement list.
The role of health supplements
Why a supplement?
This graph illustrates the importance of defensive action. If you take action at point A, you can help avoid the typical path of disease when ‘all-of-a-sudden’ at point B you are diagnosed with a life-altering illness.
It wasn’t ‘all-of-a-sudden’ – it was steadily developing for years. So, nowhere is the concept of ‘prevention is better than cure’ more important than in health.
I believe the first priority is always to get your nutrients from food – hence the Delay Ageing Healthy Eating and Lifestyle Plan.
Nevertheless, there are nutrients that may be present in your diet, but are rarely at a high enough level to counterbalance the multiple forces behind ageing. Forces that inexorably increase over the years.
In addition, we know that people generally eat less as they get older and the ability to absorb nutrients from food does become less efficient over time – just as the demand for higher levels of preventative nutrition increases. (Ref.)
So, for all these reasons, I believe that nutrients that help slow ageing – and therefore increase healthy longevity and quality of life – should be increased in your diet via a health food supplement.
What should be in an ideal anti-ageing supplement?
Pulling together the conclusions from this five-part series these should include a range and optimum levels of nutrients that:
- > Act as anti-inflammatories – curcumin, green tea, bilberry, grapeseed
- > Are antioxidants – Omega 3, vitamins A, C, E, curcumin, green tea
- > Help repair DNA - resveratrol, curcumin, fisetin, vitamin C, B3 nicotinamide, beta carotene, lutein, lycopene.
- > Switch on beneficial genes (epigenetic modifiers) – folic acid, betaine, Omega 3, B12, curcumin, green tea, resveratrol, apigenin, lycopene, lutein, genistein
- > Support mitochondrial health and boost energy via NAD+ – nicotinamide, CoQ10, Omega 3, curcumin, soy isoflavones, grapeseed, green tea, glucosamine
- > Help clear senescent cells – fisetin, grapeseed, curcumin, EGCG in green tea, glucosamine
- > Support the immune system – vitamins A, C, D3 and E, zinc and selenium
This is not the definition of a simple one-a-day vitamin pill!
Because delaying ageing, and the threats that accompany it, is not a simple process. So a ‘magic bullet’ approach with a single ingredient is never going to work.
It is the SYNERGY between multiple nutrients and lifestyle factors that makes the difference.
Which is why we developed the supplement NutriShield which contains these elements: NutriShield | Daily Nutritional Health Supplement from Uni-Vite Healthcare
Thanks for reading
I spend my time researching the new science of healthy, successful ageing. And how to extend health span rather than just lifespan.
I hope you got value from this part of the 5-part series. Links to the other 4 parts are:
And if you enjoyed it, please send the link of this article to any friend or family member who might benefit.
NutriShield Premium Health Supplement
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It contains 6 different capsules, combining a total of 43 powerful nutrients to support healthy ageing and has been updated and improved every year since 2002 based on the newest longevity research.
Delay Ageing book explains the ageing process and how you can postpone it
Medical researchers agree that if you slow ageing, you also delay the onset of age-related disease. And we know that it’s not just nutrition. Sleep, reducing stress and cardio and strength exercise are also essential to longevity and ageing well.
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