Anti-Inflammatory Diet

All health care starts with diet. My recommendations for a healthy diet are here:
Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Lifestyle.
There are over 190 articles on diet, inflammation and disease on this blog
(find topics using search [upper left] or index [lower right]), and
more articles by Prof. Ayers on Suite101 .

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Aging

You don’t wear out, you flame out.

I don’t think that aging happens -- aging is just medically mismanaged chronic inflammation. The major observations are that older people have more degenerative/autoimmune diseases and they suffer from fewer infectious diseases. It would appear that the bodies of older people have figured out infections with an experienced immune system and that mechanical damage takes its toll over time -- joints wear out. I think that there may be a minor amount of truth in this cultural perspective, but there is something more profound at work, sarcopenia.

Sarcopenia (muscle loss) is the gradual loss of muscle and replacement by fat. Thus, by age fifty most people are physically less active and even if they appear to have the same weight and shape as in their active youth, the muscle of their abdomens and limbs has been partially replaced with fat surrounding their organs. This fat, as in those who are obese, releases inflammatory cytokines into the circulation and the body reacts as if it had a low grade infection.

Senior citizens are constantly expending energy and taxing their immune system by chronic inflammation. As a result they get fewer infections, but the chronic inflammation provides the foundation for cancer and autoimmune diseases. Their bodies aren’t mechanically wearing out, but they are wearing out by over use of the immune system.

Those seniors who are physically active and eat an anti-inflammatory diet, do not appear to age as fast as those who are sedentary, obese and display the typical symptoms of chronic inflammation, the metabolic syndrome. Most of the characteristics associated with advancing years are merely symptoms of poorly managed chronic inflammation that can be reversed by an anti-inflammatory diet and exercise.

2 comments:

Buccaneer said...

When you say non starch polysacch..which foods do you specifically mean? Woudln't rice, wheat have both starch and non starch content? How do we separate the two?

As for meat, isn't meat inflammatory as well?

Dr. Art Ayers said...

Buccaneer,
I mean veggies and fruits that are low in starch.

Starch is the only polysaccharide that we produce enzymes to digest. Thus, starch is immediately converted to glucose as it is absorbed in the small intestines. Starch produces an rapid rise in blood sugar that produces inflammatory glycation products. Fructose is ten times worse than starch.

Soluble fibers are plant polysaccharides, such as pectin and inulin that are digested by bacterial enzymes in the colon and do not cause a rise in blood sugar.

Wheat is a problem both because of the high starch, but also because of the gluten. Rice isn't as much of a problem, if it is eaten is small amounts and the rise in glucose is offset by heavy exercise.

Meat is not inflammatory at all and the saturated fat is especially helpful as a source of calories. The only problem with meat comes from increasing the omega-6 fatty acid composition by feeding grains. That is why grass fed meat is more nutritious. It is very difficult to eat enough calories from high carb diets, without producing inflammatory blood sugar levels. It is much safer/healthier to obtain the majority of dietary calories from saturated fats.

Thank you for your questions/comments.