The summer countdown has begun, and you could be feeling it. The best summer days and nights include friends, family, fun and FOOD! But, a carefree summer menu can lead to chronic inflammation, which can trigger a whole host of health problems.
Inflammation speeds up aging… it’s called inflamm-AGING!
We don’t bounce back from “fun times” as readily as we mature. But bringing your gracefully aging body back online is possible. It just takes a bit of tenacity. And although aging may be unavoidable, age-related inflammation or “inflammaging” definitely isn’t.
Inflammation’s role in the body is to fight infection… it’s an immune response. Inflammaging, on the other hand, is a chronic state of low-grade inflammation that exists without the presence of infection or injury. The body’s immune responses become more unstable as we age. Some of that is related to cellular changes that naturally happen to our bodies as we age.
Throughout your lifetime, your body is repeatedly exposed to external substances and microbes that overstimulate the immune system. As a result, the body accumulates activated immune system cells, weakening its repair functions. This overfiring of the immune system also causes degeneration of body tissues.
Inflammatory markers can detect these inflammatory responses in the bloodstream. These inflammatory markers have been linked to:
- Chronic pain
- Loss of energy
- Digestive problems
- Blood sugar issues
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of sex drive
- Parkinson’s disease
- Sarcopenia (muscle loss)
- Loss of functionality, and
- Increased risk of mortality
Inflammaging also speeds up collagen loss and weakens our skin barrier, leading to wrinkly skin, dryness, cellulite, redness, and dark circles under the eyes. Though inflammaging is common, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s something you have to endure. It’s possible to lessen age-related inflammation in the body with just a few lifestyle shifts.
Though we still have a lot to learn about inflammaging, many helpful tools already exist. First, take time to “destress… and rest!” A little R and R is vital to a healthy body AND mind, especially an aging one. And getting a good 7-9 hours of sleep every night is also very important. But there’s more. Here is a brief overview of simple yet effective changes you can make to help eradicate inflammation and restore vitality.
Exercise can significantly reduce chronic age-related inflammation by increasing pro-inflammatory cytokines, especially HIIT (high-intensity training) and aerobic exercise. In addition, studies show physical activity can help lower inflammation by improving insulin sensitivity and blood flow.
Fasting can help reduce inflammation by decreasing oxidative damage, optimizing metabolism, and supporting cellular protection. There are a few different types of fasting, but the fasting-mimicking diet has shown the most promise in reducing inflammaging.
Diet is arguably the most critical component to reducing inflammaging. You can help ward off inflammaging by eating a whole-food diet rich in antioxidants, polyphenols and resveratrol-rich foods and avoiding processed fatty foods. One of the most prolific anti-inflammatory diets is the Mediterranean diet. To help you get started, here is a simple list of foods to eat more of and foods to eat less.
- Eat More
Fatty fish like salmon and mackerel
Fruits, especially berries
Vegetables, especially cruciferous and leafy greens
Resveratrol-rich foods- grapes, green tea, cocoa, peanuts, pistachios, strawberries, blueberries
- Eat Less
Processed meats, like sausages and lunch meat
Drinks with added sugar
High fructose corn syrup
Refined carbohydrates, like white bread and sweet desserts
Try having this yummy antioxidant-rich anti-inflammatory shake for breakfast this fall. Have your spice, and eat it too, all while reducing inflammation and rejuvenating your body.
Place the chia seeds into the water and let them sit in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to expand. After 15 minutes, add all of the ingredients to a high-speed blender. Blend starting on low speed, then increase to high speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down the blender. Blend again until smooth, about 20 more seconds. Serve right away. If you need to, you can add more water while blending.
This Yellow Zucchini-Carrot Pappardelle with Pesto is a celebration of color!
Every month, I experiment with new plant-based dishes for the ReShape app. Healthy habits never tasted so good! If you don’t already know, ReShape includes a complete day-by-day food plan with both plant-based and traditional protein options for every meal.
Today’s plant-strong creation by Chef Michele Leao has been one of my favorites. It replaces pasta with fresh carrots and zucchini ribbons.
The carrots are sweet and earthy, and the zucchini acts as a sponge to soak in all the pesto’s flavors. A perfect combination.
This recipe calls for the zucchini and carrots to be served raw, but if you want to turn it into a pasta replacement, boil the ribbons for five minutes.
Voila! A pretty presentation that’s loaded with fresh veggies.