The Newest Theory of Aging: Inflammaging

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Have you heard about inflammaging? It’s the newest theory of aging scientists are looking at, and to better understand this theory, we will discuss it below. Read on to learn all about it.

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In this article:

  1. What Is Aging?
  2. What Are the Multiple Levels of Aging?
  3. Free Radical Damage and How the Cells Communicate and Cause Aging
  4. Cellular Communication Breakdown
  5. The ABC’s of Elevated Levels of Inflammation
  6. Attack of the Zombie Cells
  7. Fighting Back with ALA and ALC
  8. Other Natural Ways to Improve Metabolism

What Is Inflammaging and What Should You Know About It?

What Is Aging?

Before we talk about inflammaging definition and everything about it, let’s first take a look at what aging is all about.

Although you may have an understanding that aging, it is more than just wrinkles and fine lines on your face, gray hairs, or Alzheimer’s disease. It’s a natural process which happens with your body over time.

Simply put, aging is the combination of how you take care of yourself and your bodily changes. It takes different levels or forms over time.

What Are the Multiple Levels of Aging?

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The aging process occurs on multiple levels, depending on how it impacts your body.

  • Metabolic Aging

In your everyday life, your cells consistently convert food into energy, which can produce byproducts that can harm your body. The process of metabolizing foods and producing energy can cause damage to your body over time, which leads to metabolic aging.

  • Accumulated Damage

As mentioned earlier, aging is also a result of the accumulated damage of your body. This damage comes from external elements, such as pollution, too much sun exposure, harmful foods, and toxins.

These factors can result in tissue damage over time, which makes your body fall behind in its capability to repair and maintain organs, tissues, and cells.

  • Hormonal Aging

Hormones are also a major factor in aging. As you become an adolescent, your hormone levels start to fluctuate, which gives you larger pores or acne when you reach puberty.

As you grow older, hormonal changes can result in menopause and dry skin.

  • Cellular Aging

The number of times cells can replicate is how you determine their life. A single cell can replicate for about 50 times before it can no longer copy accurately.

But, this number can even be fewer as free radicals and other factors create damage to the cells.

Free Radical Damage and How the Cells Communicate and Cause Aging

Cracking the code on aging remains one of the biggest challenges in science today. As recently as a decade ago, the general aging theory focused on the oxidative stress model.

Basically, the idea was aging is caused by the sustained accumulation of cellular damage and a lifetime of reactive oxygen species and free radicals coursing through our veins.

But, the oxidative damage theory of aging has failed to provide a complete picture. The total antioxidant capacity alone doesn’t seem to do much in fighting the effects of aging.

Today, most scientists think the reason why we age can be attributed to not only free radical damage but also how our cells communicate, leading to chronic low-grade inflammation, which builds over time. Scientists now refer to this process as ‘inflammaging.’

Cellular Communication Breakdown

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All the unwelcome effects of biological aging, including metabolism slowdown, stiffness, frailty, aches, and pains, are caused by a profound change in how our cells communicate. The term cell signaling is all about biological information exchange.

It includes not only cell-to-cell chatter but also the communication between a cell and its external environment.

“Signal communication pathways are coded directly from our DNA.”

Cell signaling is an extremely complex set of sensors and triggers in every cell and tissue in our body. Signal communication pathways are coded directly from our DNA, giving each cell a pattern for growth and development, as well as a set of activities, responses, and behaviors governing daily cell functions.

Our bodies can adapt to any changes that are within the ability of the cell signaling pathways to build or repair. But with age, several key pathways are altered, and our typical adapt and repair mechanisms swing towards chronic inflammation, damage, and the deterioration associated with aging.

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The ABC’s of Elevated Levels of Inflammation

Scientists, in their study, understand that the cellular signaling mechanisms maintain immune function, including the process known as inflammation. But, many of us interpret systemic inflammation as swelling in response to injury.

In truth, acute inflammation is a complex cascade of information being passed from cell to cell. Inflammation helps your body physically isolate anything foreign or damaged within its tissues and targets it for either isolation or destruction.

Inflammation in a particular tissue is generally characterized by infiltration of the tissue by white blood cells looking for anything foreign or damaged.

“Aged cells show molecular markers of inflammation.”

The science of inflammation is so well characterized that researchers looking into the molecular aspects of aging started noticing a lot of similarities to inflammation models in their work. Aged cells show molecular markers of chronic, low-level inflammation, one of the chronic diseases.

Even under a microscope, the tissue looks different.

Why does the immune system fight against itself during aging? Suddenly, aging appears to be similar to some of the autoimmune disorders or age-related diseases, experienced mostly by older adults, you’ve heard of, e.g., rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and multiple sclerosis.

Attack of the Zombie Cells

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The focus of age-related inflammation seems to be targeted at the slow accumulation of what are known as senescent cells. These zombie-like cells no longer divide, but they also don’t die.

Senescence may be a way of preventing age-damaged cells from turning into cancer. These zombie-like cells accumulate and persist within our aging bodies, no longer contributing to the workload as they once did.

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These aging cells begin to look foreign to the marauding white blood cells of the immune system. So, they’re attacked, isolated, and destroyed.

Unfortunately, the immune system is not precise, and healthy cells adjacent to the zombie cells are also destroyed in the attack.
The accumulation of these aging cells causes you to feel sore and old. But, are you doomed to succumb to the attack of the zombie cells? Not necessarily.

We know about the roles of metabolism, nutrition, and lifestyle in regard to our feeling of health and well-being, which translates directly to our cellular health and well-being. If we can prolong the inevitable progression of our cells towards senescence, we would limit the progression of inflammaging and possibly the feeling of aging.

Fighting Back with ALA and ALC

“Lipoic acid and Acetyl-L-carnitine are unmatched in their ability to promote efficient metabolism.”

The opposite of a zombie cell is a metabolically active cell charged with strong mitochondria. The hallmark of strong, metabolically active mitochondria is efficient lipid (fat) fuel transport and consumption for energy production.

The natural supplement duo — alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) and acetyl-L-carnitine (ALCAR) — are unmatched in their ability to promote efficient transport and metabolism by the mitochondria. No other combination of products has shown such clinically significant improvements in metabolism and health.

ALA Definition: An organic compound acting as a potent antioxidant in the human body to fight free radicals

ALCAR Definition: An amino acid made from L-carnitine that is naturally present in the human body to help produce energy

While lifestyle and our genetics set the stage for how our bodies age, these supplements give us the ability to affect how efficiently our metabolism runs on a daily basis. The idea behind such intervention against aging is the longer we can keep our cells from aging, the less we accumulate the destructive effects of increased inflammaging.

Other Natural Ways to Improve Metabolism

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Because it’s important to keep a good metabolism for a healthy body to avoid metabolic syndrome, you can always switch to a healthy lifestyle to keep your metabolism strong.

1. Sleep for At Least Eight Hours Every Night

Lack of sleep is always bad for your overall health because your body needs a good amount of and restful sleep every day to recharge. It also increases the hunger hormone ghrelin, which makes you feel hungry more often., This leads to weight gain or obesity that causes your metabolism to slow down.

Practice having a bedtime routine every day to promote better sleep, like reading a novel or listening to soft music before you sleep.

2. Drink Green Tea

Green tea is low in calories and has metabolism-boosting properties. The tea aids in converting stored fat into free fatty acids, increasing your fat-burning rate.

Drink one to two cups a day for best results.

3. Practice Standing Up More

Prolonged sitting is bad for your health because it lets your body burn fewer calories, which can result in weight gain. If your job or daily routine involves prolonged sitting, try to stand up from time to time and do some stretching to prevent slow metabolism and promote good circulation.

4. Do Weightlifting

Building your muscles can aid in increasing your metabolism because the muscles are more metabolically active than fat. When you do weightlifting, it helps you retain muscle mass and a good metabolism.

You can perform weightlifting exercises 30 mins to an hour every day, depending on if you are a beginner or not.

5. Consume More Protein

Eating raises your metabolism for several hours, and protein increases your metabolic rate more than fats or carbs. Good sources of protein are lean meat, fish, poultry, tofu, eggs, seeds and nuts, and beans and legumes.

There is a huge possibility that inflammaging is the root cause of aging based on the studies mentioned earlier. Both inflammation and aging caused by free radicals are harmful to the human body, and lowering them is beneficial for your overall health and well-being.

So, start switching to a healthier lifestyle now to slow down the process of inflammation aging.

What are your thoughts on the theory of inflammaging? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on September 23, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.