Age plays a key role in the development of chronic inflammation, an illness that occurs when your immune system continues to fight a health threat that’s subsided. This constant activation of the immune system harms cells and can accelerate aging, which is why experts have coined the term “inflammaging.” Signs of inflammaging appear in the skin as wrinkles, age spots, and dehydration. When left untreated, chronic inflammation does more than dim your youthful glow; it also increases your risk of diseases like cancer and type 2 diabetes. There is good news, however: Diet and lifestyle changes can help your body tame chronic inflammation over time. Here are four ways to prevent inflammaging as you age.
#1: Nibble on dark chocolate (to boost polyphenol intake).
Dark chocolate lovers, rejoice. A 2018 study found that participants who enjoyed 30 grams of the treat every day for eight weeks — as part of a balanced diet — had lower levels of inflammation compared to those who didn’t. Researchers credit this benefit to the compounds found in dark chocolate called polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties to lessen inflammation. Plus, 2 ounces of 70 to 85 percent dark chocolate contains about 6 grams of fiber. That’s key since an observational study published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that high-fiber diets are protective against increasing inflammation levels.
#2: Take up gardening (to increase geosmin exposure).
Spending time planting colorful flowers or sowing seeds in your garden could lower inflammation, suggests a 2022 study. The reason: Bacteria in soil produce a compound called geosmin. The authors note that geosmin has been reported to help soothe the stress that sends inflammation soaring. More good news: Related research published in the journal HortScience found that participants who gardened for about 50 minutes twice a week for seven weeks experienced long-lasting anti-inflammatory benefits.
#3: Apply moisturizer (to reduce inflammatory protein production).
Promising news: Keeping skin strong and supple supports anti-inflammaging, according to a 2009 study. Study authors found that when mature adults applied a skin-repairing body cream twice daily for 30 days, their levels of inflammatory proteins called cytokines dropped to levels found in younger adults. This is because strengthening skin wards off dryness and itching that can trigger inflammation throughout the body.
#4: Consider taking COQ10 (to inhibit cytokines).
A nutrient called coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) could inhibit the production of proinflammatory cytokines, which are immune system proteins that set inflammation in motion. A study published in the Journal of Nephropathology found that people who took 100 milligrams of CoQ10 daily significantly lowered their levels of inflammation within three months. Over 50? Opt for ubiquinol, the active form of CoQ10. Though the body can convert other forms of CoQ10 into ubiquinol, its ability to do so wanes over time. Speak with your doctor before starting any supplement.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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