The term Inflammaging was coined several years ago to describe the undeniable link between chronic accelerated low-grade inflammation and the diseases of aging.
Over the years I’ve tried to remind you of this link and suggested more than once that we are barking up the wrong tree on our treatments/prevention of this problem.
There are a couple of things that are causative and of course, probably more we don’t quite understand yet but here’s what we know.
- As we age inflammatory biomarkers like cortisol generally go up while most other hormones “go down”. Loss of muscle mass, strength, power, bone mass, cognitive ability and wrinkles are a few of the more obvious signs that our bodies don’t do well with low hormone status. In a kind of chicken or egg problem, hormone lapses are causative and corrective but may simply be a first step for those who need them. Back in the day I did this kind of thing all the time but then Big Pharma filed a “citizen’s petition” and went on an attack against compounding pharmacies. They are still around but it’s much harder to prescribe this stuff especially for women. A large study released several years ago suggested hormone replacement was potentially dangerous. The results were revisited after the fact but the damage had been done.
So, ladies if you really want to “age naturally” you can let your body go down that route without a whimper. Similarly male hormone replacement has faded from advertising even though it’s been shown over and over again it does not cause prostate cancer. Doctors still ask me, “Weren’t you afraid of giving your patients prostate cancer?!” I am more afraid of them developing osteoporosis, sarcopenia, dementia, diabetes and obesity. Surprising huh?
- Epigenetics: It appears that inflammation changes gene expression which leads to more inflammation which leads to more gene expression changes which leads to more inflammation which leads to more gene changes etc, etc.
- Telomere loss. As telomeres shorten inflammation (Inflammaging!) rises in the cell and begins to uncouple the mitochondrial powerhouses. This “leaks” inflammation into the rest of the cell and surrounding cells as well. This is called the “Senescent Activated Phenotype” and just like the above epigenetic feed back loop, it is self perpetuating. This is why I always say “Take Care of Your Telomeres!”
- Other…. The accumulation of sugar coated proteins cellular junk and of course the potential accumulation of damaged DNA are just some of the other things involved
If it sounds like a lot, it is, but it is far from hopeless. Right now the concept of “Aging as a Disease” is bouncing around looking for a home. It will find one when Big Pharma decides it’s ok to treat it that way. Given the current environment I wouldn’t be holding my breath. There are too many other huge revenue sources to tap into, especially these days.
Speaking of these days, those of you who may be experiencing “long Covid” symptoms, especially the neuropsychiatric stuff like brain fog, short term memory loss, and depression are most likely dealing with the fact that this lovely “novel” virus seems to have a predilection for causing damage in tissues that don’t regenerate well like brain and heart.
Now you have to be wary of “misinformation” so what I said earlier and will say now is something to take as an opinion, not a medical fact – I think the rise in teen and young adult suicide seen during the pandemic is not solely due to social isolation. This group of people gets asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic Covid in terms of respiratory symptoms. But its easily possible to have the neuro-psych affects without obvious signs of infection. I’ll let you complete the thought lest I be accused of misinforming you!
One last punch line: If inflammation is the cause of so much of this, the King of Safe Anti-inflammatories is Fish Oil!
Will we run out again?
It appears this will indeed happen although not for the 6 month period of time we had last year!
Remember, YOU were designed to thrive and you can “Buy Runway”! Or you can age like your parents if you like…. Free will and choice!