Anti-Inflammatory/Anti-Aging Strategies
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From the time of the ancient Greeks, it has been clear that the mind-gut-body connection influences one’s health; however, only during the last century have we begun to understand why this is the case.

With new tools, scientists can show that there is cross-talk between the brain, the gut and the immune system.  Immune molecules from white blood cells send messages to the brain and the gut and in turn, these organs signal back to the immune system, up-regulating (increase) or down-regulating (decrease) inflammation.

 Image stress stomach immune system brain

©2017 Dr. H. C. Greenblatt

Chronic, long-term stress, affects immune cells by changing their gene activity.  This prepares them to fight infection or trauma and increases inflammation. More immune cells are then enlisted for the fight, resulting in increased inflammation.

Inflammation is necessary for survival, but too much inflammation is linked to heart and autoimmune disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer.  This is why it is essential to maintain the right balance of signals.

Stress responses are part of a vicious cycle in which stress triggers inflammation and inflammation triggers additional stress.

In stressed mice, there are four times the numbers of immune cells than found in non-stressed mice.  Additionally in mice that are stressed 1100 genes are responsible for increasing (up-regulating) inflammation.  These genes in non-stressed mice are not activated.

Similar outcomes are seen in humans under chronic stress. For weeks and months following natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes,  individuals, especially those who have suffered great personal loss, have imbalances of the immune system that affects them both physically and emotionally.

The immune system and its inflammatory responses are in exquisite balance (homeostasis).  The body expands much of its energy maintaining its balance in a steady state.  This may be the reason that people who are stressed out tend to be “tired a lot of the time”.

Let us say that your immune system consists of 30 billion cells and that 15 billion of these cells are in the attack mode with excessive inflammation (up-regulation).  Let us propose that another 15 billion cells are trying to limit the inflammatory response (down-regulation).

A total of 30 billion cells expending a “trivial” amount of energy is a great deal of wasted energy. No wonder people become exhausted when they are not in homeostasis, balance.

CONCLUSION:

The key to reducing stress  is to help the immune system return to homeostasis, to its natural balance.

To better manage stress especially during the holidays:  incorporate an immune support supplement into your daily diet, be physically active 2-2.5 hours/week, spend time outdoors, eat smart, stay within healthy weight limits and remember that you are only one person—be kind to yourself; give yourself a break.

Achieving immune homeostasis will make all the difference in the quality of your emotional and physical well-being. 

Contact Dr. Hellen at: DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, use the form or give her a call at 302.265.3870 (ET, USA) at no charge to you. 



http://www.uppitysciencechick.com/glaser_stress_immune_dysfunction.pdf
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29064542
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27319971
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24608036
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22790082

Repeatedly I am asked whether there is an association between inflammation and an enlarged prostrate.

Fifty percent of men by age 50, and 80% of men by age 80 have inflamed, enlarged prostrates, a condition medically known as benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). (The prostate is an organ that wraps around the urethra, the tube that carries urine to the outside. The primary function of the prostate is to produce sperm. Hyperplasia refers to the fact that the number of cells in the prostate increase, resulting in abnormal growth.)

As many men age, inflammation of the prostrate increases its size, enlarging it and putting pressure on the urethra.   (Although the prostate is enlarged, it is not a cancerous or fatal condition.) Why this occurs is still under investigation, but it appears to be a result of a combination of genetics, hormones and immune reactions.

Men with prostate hyperplasia have lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS) such as an urgent and frequent need to urinate (especially during the night), waiting longer than usual for the stream of urine to begin, straining to urinate, having a weak stream or dribble of urine, not being able to completely empty one’s bladder, or needing to urinate immediately and having an “accident”.

Obesity leads to greater over-all inflammation and puts overweight people at higher risk of having prostrate and urinary tract disorders. Obese men are 3.5 times more likely to have enlarged prostrates compared with men of healthier weights.

The more weight a man carries, the more inflamed he is, the higher the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes as well. The relationship of an enlarged prostrate to diabetes remains controversial. Diabetes has been associated with bladder problems and the ability to control urination.

Additionally, the higher the level of sugar in the blood, the more likelihood of urinary problems and enlarged prostrates, especially in men that do not take medications for their diabetes. However, since both diabetes and benign prostate hyperplasia are inflammatory in nature and are clinically similar it is not clear whether the two diseases are associated.

Inflammation is tightly controlled to keep it balanced, in homeostasis.  We need enough inflammation for healing and for defending us from infections, but not so much inflammation that organs and tissues are damaged.

Being active, controlling one’s weight, going outdoors for a few minutes a day and using a proven immune balancing supplement will greatly affect the ability of the body to modulate inflammation.

For years I have helped people promote  their overall quality of life.  Feel free to contact me DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info, use the form, or give me a call at 302.265.3870 (ET) and let us talk. Let me help you help yourself, you deserve it.
www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/prostate-problems/prostate-enlargement-benign-prostatic-hyperplasia
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3735085/
www.andrologyaustralia.org/your-health/lower-urinary-tract-symptoms-luts-in-men/
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3221555/
www.hindawi.com/journals/au/2009/818965/

 

 

 

Last week I talked with a young local Asian-American business owner who shared with me that he was “a little fatigued and stressed out”. I suggested that if he took steps to getting his immune system in balance, that since our physical and emotional well-being is dependent on homeostasis, he would feel much better.

He basically replied that, “he spends half the year in Florida, has a lot of friends that are “into” nutrition, he exercises and that he didn’t need any more information, thank you”.

Nothing like a person with an open mind, but unfortunately too many people think in this narrow way.  We all know individuals that eat nutritiously, exercise 5-7 days a week and watch their weight but they still do feel “off”.  Their fingers, elbows or knees hurt, they can’t eat everything they would like, or they have other health issues despite their “great” life style.

Nutritional Recommendations:

The evidence is strong that due to the hundreds of phytonutrients, plant nutrients, in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, whole grains and olive oil, that plant-based foods are important for our health. A broad variety of these phytonutrients are suggested since they appear to affect a wide-spectrum of biological functions. The consumption of plant-based foods influences the health of cells, blood pressure, risk of certain cancers, immune, dental, urinary, liver and gut health.

An additional dietary recommendation is to consume fish or fish oil 2-3 times a week for their omega-3 fatty acids. This “good” fat has multiple uses in our body, but the body cannot produced these fats by itself; we need an outside source.

Studies involving hundreds of thousands of people suggest that omega-3s reduce the risk of fatal heart disease, improve the flexibility of blood vessels, lower blood pressure and reduce immune inflammation. [Note: It is controversial whether omega-3 supplements are as beneficial as eating fish; in fact, they may cause certain health issues.]

Role of the Immune System

When the body is threatened by pathogens or cancer cells, or has been injured, the body responds with short-term inflammatory responses, acute inflammation.

Immune cells flood the area to destroy invading foreign organisms or cancer cells, or to start the healing process after trauma. If the body cannot get rid itself of the infection, or if it over-responds with excessive levels of inflammation, the immune response may become chronic, or long-term.

Chronic inflammation is abnormal and damages previously healthy tissues and organs. This sort of unlimited inflammation results in autoimmune diseases, diseases in which the body’s immune system turns on the body.  Conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, hepatitis and asthma can result from such run-away inflammatory responses.

Knowledgeable individuals know that nutrition plays only an initial role in staying healthy. Good nutrition is the foundation upon which to build health, but it is NOT ENOUGH; it is the immune system that governs one’s health and must be optimized.

The Importance of a Balanced Immune System

Immune balance, immune homeostasis, is tightly regulated by the body. It allows the organism to respond to infection, cancer cells and injury with the right amount of inflammation.  Any imbalances, either too much stimulation, or too little, results in immune disorders and health issues.

The key to good health and healthy aging is keeping the immune system in balance.

    Scales Immune Reponses Partial

Dr.Hellen’s major passion is helping people to enjoy life at its fullest. She may be contacted by using this form, at: drhellen@drhellengreenblatt.info or feel free to call:  302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

  

nutrition.ucdavis.edu/content/infosheets/fact-pro-phytochemical.pdf
www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/fish
www.harvardprostateknowledge.org/high-intake-of-omega-3-fats-linked-to-increased-prostate-cancer-risk
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www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27357102

 

Delirium is an under-reported condition that may affect up to 56% of older individuals after surgery, patients that have been heavily sedated for a length of time, burn, cancer, and patients on ventilators for long periods. Patients experience vivid hallucinations that may be part of a vicious cycle if doctors attempt to control the delusions with larger amounts of sedatives; the medications may disorient and confuse the patient even more.

The delusions and accompanying cognitive issues can persist for months after patients leave the hospital and can lead to a misdiagnosis of dementia, rather than delirium. [Dementia develops gradually and gradually worsens, while delirium may be of sudden onset.]

Delirium is associated with excessive inflammation in the brain resulting from triggering specialized immune cells the microglia. If stimulated over a long time, the cells release inflammatory cytokines, molecules that damage nerve cells and contribute to damage and break down of the capillaries in the brain, the blood-brain barrier.

C-reactive protein, CRP, is one measure of inflammation. CRP levels were measured in elderly surgical patients who had ended up with complications such as delirium, cardiovascular issues, or infection. The levels of CRP in their blood were predictive as to how fully they recovered.

A recent study measured the levels of 12 different inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines in older patients undergoing surgery. Those having episodes of delirium had consistently high levels of inflammatory cytokines as compared to patients that did not have high levels of cytokines. Similar results were seen in patients that developed delirium after procedures such as open-heart surgery and hip fracture repair.

Conclusion

In order for the body to heal after it is hurt, or to fight an infection successfully, a delicate balance of cytokines, immune messages are required. Too little of an inflammatory response and the individual may not survive an infection. Too much of an inflammatory response and healthy tissue is destroyed. Homeostasis, balance, is what the body strives for every moment.

Dr. Hellen would be pleased to provide guidance to helping enhance your quality of life.  She may be contacted by using this form or at: 302.265.3870 (ET, USA).

 

www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/06/the-overlooked-danger-of-delirium-in-hospitals/394829/
www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/delirium/basics/definition/con-20033982
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2911011
intl-biomedgerontology.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2015/07/24/gerona.glv083.full
www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2210833511000773
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17504139

 

 

For over two decades I have noticed that individuals in immune homeostasis, immune balance, are on fewer medications or no medications than their cohorts, and the majority of them look and feel 10 years younger than other people their age. Comparing photos of how these individuals look now with photos as how they looked 10-20 years ago, it is amazing how great they look! Their youthfulness is especially apparent when I compare these photos to those of individuals that have not made the effort to control inflammation.

Too many older individuals suffer from chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cognition deficits, Parkinson’s disease, lung, kidney, and bladder problems. Over the years there have been numerous studies associating chronic (long-term) inflammation with the development of mutating cells and cancers. However because of the time it takes to do longevity studies it is difficult to prove that limiting inflammation makes a difference in how well people age.

Just this month, a team of scientists from Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan and the Newcastle University’s Institute for Ageing in the UK published a study of the immune status of over 1500 individuals ranging in age from 100-115 years.

The study group was divided into two: centenarians, 100-104 years of age, and semi-supercentenarians aged 105 and above. The result was that these long-lived individuals had lower levels of inflammation as compared to the general public.  

Dr. von Zglinicki, one of the investigators, said, “Centenarians and supercentenarians are different – put simply, they age slower. They can ward off diseases for much longer than the general population… it’s only recently we could mechanistically prove that inflammation actually causes accelerated ageing in mice…This study, showing for the first time that inflammation levels predict successful ageing even in the extreme old….”

Dr. Yasumichi Arai, the first author on the study said, “Our results suggest that suppression of chronic inflammation might help people to age more slowly…However, presently available potent anti-inflammatories [medications] are not suited for long-term treatment of chronic inflammation because of their strong side-effects. Safer alternatives could make a large difference for the quality of life of older people.

As I have pointed out for decades, controlling the delicate balance of inflammatory responses, i.e., achieving immune homeostasis, makes all the difference in one’s youthfulness and quality of life.

P.S.  My post of May 20, 2013 also discusses the role of inflammation in longevity.

Please contact me directly if you would like to learn simple approaches to making a difference in your health.
http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/item/scientists-crack-the-secret-of-the-centenarians
http://www.ebiomedicine.com/article/S2352-3964(15)30081-5/fulltext
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26265203
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26263854

 

Shirley Wang published an article in the WSJ titled “New View of Depression: An Ailment of the Entire Body”. Her lead-in stated: “Scientists are increasingly finding that depression and other psychological disorders can be as much diseases of the body as of the mind. People with long-term psychological stress, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder tend to develop earlier and more serious forms of physical illnesses that usually hit people in older age, such as stroke, dementia, heart disease and diabetes”.

Ms. Wang reported that Dr. Owen Wolkowitz at the University of California, San Francisco thinks of depression as “a systemic illness”, rather than a mental or brain disease. Dr. Wolkowitz found that
“[D]epression is associated with an unusually high rate of aging-related illnesses and early mortality”, or “accelerated aging”. He also points out that individuals who are aging more rapidly and/or are ill, have shorter telomeres than expected.

[Division is essential for most healthy cells. Telomeres are the protective tips of chromosomes that guide the chromosomes during cell division. Every time a cell divides, the telomeres shorten in length. Eventually there is little or no telomere resulting in an inability of the cell to divide efficiently. Eventually the cell dies. Some investigators are of the opinion that the length of telomeres is a predictor of longevity.]

There appears to be a strong association of inflammation with shorter telomeres. Senescent cells, which are unable to divide any longer and have almost non-existent telomeres, produce high concentrations of immune factors, cytokines, that regulate genes that result in inflammation.

Chronic inflammation is found in a myriad of diseases including cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer multiple sclerosis, dementia, as well as depression. Heightened levels of inflammation are found in smokers and the obese. Each pack of cigarettes smoked results in a 18% shortening of telomeres, and the telomeres of obese women are shorter than those of lean women. Using other biomarkers, both smokers and obese individuals have higher levels of inflammation in their bodies than the general population.

Depression results in inflammation and inflammation “feeds” depression. The same cytokines that cause inflammation, pro-inflammatory cytokines, under other circumstances may be anti-inflammatory.
Data from studies demonstrate that depressed individuals have an imbalance of pro- and anti-inflammatory factors.

Some practitioners suggest that depressed patients need to “boost” their immune responses. Instead, “boosting” the immune response, i.e., inflammation, may only exacerbate the disease.

Because of the complexity of immune responses, it is important to let the body find its own “set” point. This is why achieving immune homeostasis, immune balance, is essential for good health.

http://twinsuk.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Valdes-.lancet.pdf
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23136552
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1868538/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17705097
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022395609001241
http://drhellengreenblatt.info/2011/09/smoking-inflammation-immune-homeostasis-balance/

Alzheimer’s and IVIG Rx
Last week John Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today brought attention to the results of a small study presented at the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia.  In this study, patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s were given antibody preparations, immunoglobulin preparations, which were obtained by pooling plasma from numerous blood donors.  This sterile, medical product, IVIG, intravenous immunoglobulin, consists mostly of immunoglobulins, antibodies,  and is administered intravenously (IV). 

After receiving IVIG twice a month for three years, patient’s ‘ ability to function or think, their mood, or memory did not worsen over the three years. [Untreated Alzheimer’s disease patients typically show measurable declines in 3 to 6 months.]

The FDA, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, has approved the use of IVIG for only six conditions.  However, it has been used “off-label”, to try and treat about 50 other conditions, including infectious diseases, a wide-range of autoimmune conditions, organ transplant and cancer patients, blood, and neurological conditions to mention a few.

When practitioners are asked how s/he thinks IVIG works, the response is typically, except for infectious diseases, “we are not sure”.

 IVIG Contains Immunoglobulins and Smaller Immune Factors
IVIG contains antibodies to organisms such as streptococcus, hepatitis, measles, polio, etc., that can specifically neutralize infectious agents.  Other immunoglobulins may be directed  against specific immunological factors. 

However, viewing reported results in chronically ill populations, I have always been of the opinion that IVIG also contains cytokines, or cytokine-like immune molecules, with potent immune system-modulating properties, which help the body return to immune homeostasis, immune balance. 

 I suggest that the reason that Alzheimer’s patients receiving IVIG saw a stabilization of their symptoms, is that IVIG limited inflammatory responses and thus slowed the progression of disease.

 Alzheimer’s and Inflammatory Cytokine Levels
This supposition is further supported by the fact that animal models suggest that excessive production of inflammatory cytokines, inflammatory messages, are implicated in Alzheimer’s disease. These animals have a condition similar to human Alzheimer’s, and also have higher levels of inflammatory cytokines in their blood.  When a drug was administered that inhibited the cytokines, there was less damage to nerve cells and neurological outcomes in the animals improved.  

 The scientists suggest that blocking production of high amounts of inflammatory cytokines may be beneficial for any number of brain conditions, such as “Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), motor neurone disease, frontotemporal dementia, and complications from traumatic brain injury.” (1)

 Immune Homeostasis, Immune Balance the Key to Health
Thus improvements, or at least delay in the onset of Alzheimer’s, or other brain –associated conditions, may be associated with the body achieving immune homeostasis.  A body in inflammatory balance controls the immune system’s  inappropriate inflammatory responses which otherwise may lead to damage of bystander tissues.

Feel free to contact Dr. Hellen at DrHellen@DrHellenGreenblatt.info with questions or to consult with her. A message may also be left at: 1.302-265.3870 or click on: http://drhellengreenblatt.info/contact-dr-hellen/.

 


www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/AAIC/33780
http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/210367-overview#aw2aab6b3
www.alz.org/aaic/tues_1030amct_ivig_trial.asp
www.jneurosci.org/content/32/30/10201.abstract?sid=349221d1-e12f-411a-80a6-80285ed5db54
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22806462

A previous posting (1) discussed the relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and inflammation. Evidence was presented, that levels and types of inflammatory cytokines, as well as other blood markers, are different for individuals suffering with sleep apnea as compared to controls.

Steven Park,MD, a renowned sleep apnea expert in NYC, has discussed the contribution of inflammation to sleep apnea and vice versa (2).

Arthritis, Sleep Apnea, and Inflammation
Recently Dr. Park discussed a Mayo Clinic study in which 50% of rheumatoid arthritis patients were diagnosed with sleep apnea, compared to 31% of the rest of the population. Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease of runaway inflammation affecting the joints. (Older individuals are also at greater risk of sleep apnea, and they trend towards higher levels of inflammation.)

Cancer, Sleep Apnea, and Inflammation
Dr. Park has also mentioned a study concluding that sleep issues are associated with a heightened risk of cancer. Moreover, it is known that there is substantial “cross-talk” between cancerous cells and inflammatory immune cells. Cancer patients experiencing high levels of inflammation, have reduced survival rates. Clinicians have suggested that decreasing levels of inflammation in cancer patients may improve their prognoses.

Obesity, Sleep Apnea, Asthma, and Inflammation
As Dr. Park and others have pointed out, there is a strong association between obstructive sleep apnea and obesity. Fat cells, adipocytes, not only serve as fat depots, but also produce cytokines, immune messages, that up regulate or increase, inflammatory responses.

Obesity is also associated with a higher rate and severity of asthma. Overweight individuals with asthma have increased levels of TNF-apha, an “inflammatory” cytokine than healthy controls.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Symptoms May be Reduced by Physical Activity
One of the most important steps one can take to lower inflammation, besides controlling weight, and eating a healthy diet, is consistent exercise.

This concept is supported by a recent study from Brazil suggesting that physical exercise affects the cytokine makeup of obstructive sleep apnea patients and may reduce inflammation and symptoms of their disease.

Immune Homeostasis, Immune Balance
The key to excellent health, and healthy aging, is to achieve immune homeostasis, immune balance. The immune system needs to produce enough inflammation to meet healing and infectious disease challenges, but it must be a “controlled” burn, so as not to damage innocent, by-stander cells and tissues.

Lifestyle changes are some of the simplest ways to correct immune imbalances and should be considered as part of anyone’s “preventive and treatment” protocol.

www.jrheum.org/content/36/9/1869.short
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http://drhellengreenblatt.info/2012/02/inflammation-cancer-chemotherapy-and-brain-fog/

The journal of the American Geriatrics Society, just released a study of older women suggesting  that women, and we assume men as well, add years of healthy living by staying active and increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables. 

 Women between the ages of 70 to 79 years were followed for a five-year period.  Investigators monitored the amount of physical activity they reported, and their carotenoid blood levels.  [Carotenoids are a class of pigmented, phyto [plant] nutrients found in the yellow, orange, and plants.  Blood levels of carotenoids are associated with the quantity of vegetables and fruits consumed.  The more fruit and veggies consumed, the higher the levels of carotenoids in the bloodstream.]

In the study, women that were most physically active and consumed large amounts of fruits and vegetables, were eight times more likely to be alive after the study’s five years of follow-up, compared to women who were not active, and did not eat many fruits and vegetables.

 Exercise increases survival times

More than half of the 713 participants (53%) did no exercise, 21% were moderately active, and the 26% were very active.  The active women engaged in twice the amount of activity as did women who were not active.  Active woman reported that they walked, or were involved in strength training, bowling, dancing, household, or outdoor chores.  Physical activity resulted in active woman experiencing five-year death rates 71% lower than those of the least active women.

 Fruits and vegetable consumption increases survival times

During the five-year follow-up period, women who consumed the most fruits and vegetables, and had the highest blood levels of carotenoids, were 46 percent less likely to die than woman that ate fewer fruits and vegetables.  Blood carotenoid levels were 12% higher in the women who survived, compared to blood samples taken from women that would die earlier.

 This study supports previous results demonstrating that eating more vegetables and fruits, and consuming moderate amounts of wine products, which also contain phytonutrients,  is linked to people living longer.

 Down-regulation of inflammation:  A probable reason for the reported results.

Most scientists have only vague ideas as to why exercise, and heightened consumption of fruits and vegetables should make a difference in longevity.  However, decades of literature reviews, and successful counseling of individuals in the importance of balancing immune system inflammation, make it evident to me, that exercise and healthy food consumption helps the body limit run-away inflammatory responses, and therefore helps the body balance its natural levels of inflammation.

 Inflammation is the body’s protective response to infection, cancer cell growth, and injury.  However, when inflammatory responses are not controlled, inflammation ends up doing more harm than good, and becomes the origin of most illnesses.

 It has been documented that unhealthy aging is accompanied by excessive inflammation with increases in cytokines that cause inflammation, and inflammatory markers such as C-reactive protein (CRP).

 But the body expends a great deal of energy to naturally control inflammatory responses, and return to immune homeostasis, immune balance.   So for example, moderate exercise lowers inflammation. 

Every time muscle contraction occurs, potent anti-inflammatory cytokines are released.  Therefore, as the women in this study were physically active, their bodies were naturally reducing the amount of inflammation in their bodies.

 As to the contribution of fruits and vegetables in lowering inflammation, hundreds of studies support the fact that carotenoids affect cytokines, the immune system messengers that modulate inflammation. 

 There are many ways to help the body modulate immune system-generated inflammatory responses, but simple lifestyle changes such as regular exercise, and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, are two simple steps to consider for a healthier, longer, and more active life.

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22587851

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22162208

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120530100512.htm

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090624093353.htm

 www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19549997

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22483785

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22473333

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22708923

As I have shared with readers and audiences over the years, when someone ages poorly, it results from decades of inflammatory imbalances.

Inflammation is necessary for the body to defend itself from pathogens and mutating cells, and for the body to heal itself after trauma or disease.

However, when the immune system produces excessive levels of inflammation, and does not correctly limit the amount of inflammation after its task has been completed, then inflammation becomes associated with unhealthy aging, and chronic disease.

For example, it is apparent that neurological diseases are affected, if not triggered by, inflammatory responses of the immune system.

 Immune cells of the brain and nervous system release inflammatory factors, cytokines and complex mixtures of other small immune molecules.

 These factors result in nervous cell and immune system inflammation and eventually, death of nerve cells.

 Last month, the journal of Immunity and Aging reported the results of genetic and immunological studies of Sicilian centenarians, individuals that are 100 years or older.

The researchers concluded that these individuals, all active and “in relatively good health”, survived longer than their cohorts, because their immune system was at “optimal performance” and that they were able to control inappropriate levels of inflammation.

 More evidence for the contribution of inflammation to aging poorly, for example cognitive abilities, is seen in a seemingly irrelevant study in which the use of fish oils was shown to counteract the negative effects of sugar drinks.

In this study, rats learned how to run a maze.  After their lesions, one group of rats was fed a sugary solution for over 6 weeks. After six months, the rats ran the maze again from memory.

Rats that were on the sugar, could not remember how to run the maze, but those on sugar along with  omega-3 fatty acids, were able to run it. The omega-3 fatty acids counteracted the negative effects of the sugary diet.

We know that high sugar consumption results in increasing size of fat cells, adipose tissue, and that fat cells release inflammatory molecules that are associated with the cardiovascular, joint, and insulin-related issues seen in obese individuals.

In addition, it has been shown that there are compounds in omega-3 fatty acids that counteract inflammatory responses.

Therefore, the results of the maze study may be attributable to the fact that the omega-3 helped down-regulate pro-inflammatory cytokines, messengers that initiate the inflammatory process.

During the past decades, I have watched the health outcomes of older individuals that have followed a regimen that maintains inflammatory balance.

In their 70s, 80s, and early 90s, they work full days, sometimes in physically-demanding positions, are on little or no medication, and find that they are more active, than individuals 20 years their junior.

Balanced immune inflammation, immune homeostasis, is the key to an active life.

One must generate enough inflammation to defend oneself from infectious disease, and help the body heal, but a healthy person has to be able to limit and control  inflammatory responses at appropriate levels for the tasks at hand.

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