Inflammation: What it is, What is Too Much, and How it Can Damage Your Health

Inflammation is a normal and healthy part of life. Your body tightly monitors this process to help you heal when you get an infection or injury. When you cut your finger, for instance, inflammation can keep you from bleeding to death.

Inflammation is your body’s way of healing or fighting off infection. Inflammation should do its job — go to the site of injury or infection and heal or repair — and then calm down.

But inflammation can get out of control. Your body can no longer manage it. That type of inflammation — called chronic inflammation — can create problems within your body. Eventually, chronic inflammation can lead to disease and negatively impact the aging process.

Aging is a complex process. Your genes, lifestyle, stress response, environment, and how your organs operate are unique and determine how you ageEveryone will age differently.

At the same time, you want to reduce the impact the aging process has on your body. Being healthy requires steady energy, a lean strong physique, and reducing your risk for disease as you move into your 60s, 70s, and beyond.

Inflammation and Disease

Scientists suggest that inflammation plays a major role in the aging process. Inflammation contributes to most disease, after all, but it can also age you. Scientists have even coined a term —  “inflammaging” — to describe inflammation as a risk factor for disease as you grow older.

Inflammation becomes a risk factor for many conditions including heart disease, chronic kidney disease, diabetes, cancer, depression, dementia, and muscle loss.

Being overweight or obese can make inflammation worse. Fat cells release inflammatory markers called cytokines that increase your risk for diabetes and other diseases.

A vicious cycle occurs. Metabolic diseases like diabetes keep insulin levels — and therefore inflammation — high.

Researchers have found over the past decade that over one-third of older adults aged 65 and over were obese. Obesity, coupled with aging, can increase your risk for disease, poor physical functioning, and early death.

Inflammation and Age

Scientists are still putting together the puzzle pieces of age-related inflammation. Some of the reasons they’ve found include:

All of those and other factors can create a perfect storm for inflammation and aging. Inflammation in one organ — say, your gut — can eventually lead to inflammation throughout your body.

To be fair, chronic inflammation does not always cause disease. Many diseases are multifactorial, meaning more than one thing creates or advances that disease including genetic and environmental factors.

But inflammation is a big piece of the aging puzzle. When you reduce age-related inflammation, you can improve your quality of life and reduce your disease risk.

Natural Ways to Reduce Inflammation and Prevent Disease

A lot of information about age-related inflammation remains a mystery. Yet some common-sense measures can help reduce that inflammation and your risk of disease at any age:

Scientists will continue to unravel the complex web of age-related inflammation. Don’t for the newest breakthrough to take control of inflammation and reduce your disease risk. Common-sense basics like good sleep, a healthy diet, an ideal weight, regular exercise, and the right nutrients can keep inflammation at bay so you live a healthy, happy, vibrant life.