Saturday, November 17, 2018

How I Train to Build a Healthy and Fit Body

You are a superorganism! Your body is home to trillions of microorganisms (the human microbiota) that co-exist side by side with your human self. The collective genome of these microorganisms – the human microbiome – can be thought of as an extension of our own genome, in the sense that our microbial inhabitants carry out vital functions that we lack the genetic capability to perform ourselves. Our microbial symbionts break down some of the food we eat (in particular non-starch polysaccharides), protect us against invading pathogens, and regulate our immune system, among many other things.

Given the complexity and wide-ranging effects of the microbiota, it doesn’t come as a surprise that perturbations of the microbial rainforest found within us can have widespread effects on our health and well-being. A Western diet and lifestyle selects for a microbiota that is very different from the ones our primal ancestors co-evolved with. Broad-spectrum antibiotics, caesarean sections, highly processed foods, and inadequate exposure to biodiversity from the natural environment are just some of the many elements of a modern lifestyle that upset the man-microbe relationship that was shaped through eons of time. Some (including myself) would say that it’s likely that few, if any, people in contemporary, industrialized societies have a truly healthy gut microbiota.

This may lead you to ask: How do I know if I harbor an unhealthy or healthy gut microbiota, and hence, whether I need to take steps to change the composition of the microbial community in my gut? You can certainly do a stool analysis to find out what’s living in your bowels; however, simply assessing your current health condition can often be more telling, and may be sufficient to give you the answers you are looking for.

Here are 5 signs that you carry a gut microbiome that is out of balance…
1. Cravings for sugar and highly processed foods

In the ancestral, natural environments in which our Paleolithic ancestors evolved, calorie-dense foods high in sugar and/or fat were hard to come by. Honey was only seasonally available in certain areas of the world, and getting a hold of animal source foods often required hours of hunting or scavenging.

This is in stark contrast to how things are like in modern, industrialized societies. Today, we can simply drive down to the local grocery store, where we can choose from a wide selection of foods that contain an evolutionarily novel, potent combination of fat, salt, sugar, and starch.

From an evolutionary perspective, it makes complete sense that humans have evolved a taste/preference for foods that are calorie-dense and high in sugar or fat. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s normal to go around craving doughnuts, candy, and ice cream every day. Rather, strong cravings for highly processed, unhealthy foods are a sign of a deeper problem.

Studies have shosw that gut microbes can exert a strong regulatory effect on our dietary preferences and appetite (1, 2). For example: If you eat a diet high in refined sugar, certain proinflammatory microorganisms can get a chance to flourish in your gastrointestinal (GI) tract (3). These gut bugs may then produce compounds that affect your brain in such a way that you crave more of the foods that these critters depend on for their survival and reproduction.

Cravings for processed foods high in refined sugar and/or fat are a typical sign of gut dysbiosis!
2. Food intolerance

The human body, excluding its associated microorganisms, possesses the genetic capability to break down mono- and disaccharides, starch, fats, and protein (of the major nutrients we get from our diet). Some exceptions do exist; for example, about 70% of the world’s population loses the ability to produce the enzyme lactase after infancy, and they therefore can’t break down the disaccharide lactose.

Most non-starch polysaccharides, as well as certain other compounds we get through the food we eatr are broken down by our microbial symbionts. That is, if we harbor microorganisms that are able to degrade these compounds.

A lot of people experience symptoms of food intolerance because they harbor a gut microbiome that is poorly matched with the diet they’re eating. If you don’t possess a microbiome that is adapted to break down the fermentable compounds you’re eating, you’re not going to experience the promised health benefits associated with fiber consumption, but rather gastrointestinal distress and a leaky gut.

We now know that it’s not just the non-starch complex carbohydrates we get from our diet that are broken down by gut bacteria. For example, some microbes are able to degrade gluten, phytic acid, and lactose, meaning that if we harbor these gut bugs in our GI tract, many of the adverse effects associated with the consumption of these compounds could potentially be avoided.

As for lactose, several studies have shown that consumption of yoghurt, kefir, and certain probiotics improves symptoms of lactose intolerance (4, 5, 6). This makes sense, as when we consume these products, we’re also eating bacteria that are able to break down lactose. These bugs can potentially colonize our gut or transfer genetic material to bacteria living in gut biofilms, meaning that we essentially add genes to our microbiome that are needed to break down lactose.
3. Depression

There’s solid evidence to show that chronic depression is an inflammatory disorder (7, 8). The question scientists are now asking themselves is: Where does the low-grade inflammation that accompanies depression stem from? Emerging evidence shows that our microbiome may be the key to answering this question.

Some 70% of our immune system is located in and around the gastrointestinal tract, and the microorganisms found in our gut play a key role in regulating this system. Also, having a healthy gut microbiota is absolutely crucial for the prevention of chronic inflammation, as a resilient and diverse community of gut bugs keeps proinflammatory bacteria at bay and protects the intestinal barrier.

The bacteria in our gut also affect our brain function and mental health, and recent studies suggest that microbes may play a crucial role in inducing anxiety and depression (9, 10, 11). While certain gut bugs can contribute to making you depressed, others have antidepressive effects. For example, the soil bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae has been shown to mirror the effect on neurons that drugs like Prozac provide, which has led some authors to suggest that probiotics may one day replace – or at least supplement – antidepressive drugs (12).

In the coming decade I suspect that we will see a whole range of new microbiome modulators and probiotics on the market that are specifically designed for the treatment of mental health disorders such as chronic depression, ADHD, and autism.
4. Gas, bloating, bad breath, coated tongue, loose stools, constipation, and other problems associated with irritable bowel syndrome

If you go to your general health practitioner and say you’re struggling with gas, bloating, and/or other gastrointestinal issues, he will likely have little good advice to offer you. He may run a couple of tests to check for food allergies (which most likely come back negative), advice you to eat more fiber-rich whole grains, recommend that you take steps to reduce your stress levels, and then send you on your way with a prescription for a bottle of pills that does nothing to improve your underlying problem, but rather just help mask the symptoms.

From listening to your doctor and reading online, you may get the impression that irritable bowel syndrome is a condition without any clear causes or good treatment options. However, this is simply not the case.

A proportion of patients with irritable bowel syndrome have an abnormal gut microbiota that lacks biodiversity and resilience (13, 14). This sets the stage for food intolerance, elevated intestinal permeability, decreased protection against pathogens, and gastrointestinal issues such as gas, bloating, loose stools, and/or constipation. A dysfunctional gut microbiota isn’t the only cause of IBS, but it’s definitely an important one.
5. Acne vulgaris

If you ask your dermatologist whether there’s a connection between diet and acne, he’ll most likely pass on what he learned when he studied for his medical degree, which is that the food you eat has little, if any, impact on your skin health. This is unfortunate, because as those who’ve kept up with the science in this area will tell you, diet and lifestyle changes may actually be the key to preventing and treating acne vulgaris.

Studies looking into the health condition of hunter-gatherers and traditional, non-westernized people have shown that acne vulgaris is rare or nonexistent in these populations (15, 16). This is in stark contrast to the situation in today’s industrialized world, where virtually everyone gets acne some time during their life. For some it’s just a couple of pimples during adolescence, for others it turns into debilitating cystic acne.

Why is acne vulgaris such a common and widespread disorder in the modern world, whereas it’s almost unheard of among hunter-gatherers and certain non-westernized societies? Many theories have been proposed, most of which revolve around the mismatch between our modern way of life and our ancient genome.

Personally, I believe that chronic inflammation, gut dysbiosis, and increased intestinal permeability are largely to blame for the epidemic of acne vulgaris in Westernized nations. To keep this article from getting very long I won’t get into the science supporting this statement, other than to say that this view is supported by a growing body of research that links acne vulgaris to a dysfunctional gut microbiota and supports the use of probiotics, prebiotics, and dietary interventions in the treatment of this skin condition.

Scientific research over the past several decades has made it clear that systemic, low-grade chronic inflammation, a condition characterized by two- to threefold elevated levels of several pro-inflammatory mediators such as C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and interleukin 6 in systemic circulation, is linked to many – if not most – of the chronic health disorders we suffer from in today’s society.

To set the stage for this article, here’s a quote from a 2013 review paper that highlights the importance of low-grade inflammation in chronic diseases:

    It has become clear that most, if not all, typically Western chronic illnesses find their primary cause in an unhealthy lifestyle and that systemic low-grade inflammation is a common denominator. Resolution of the conflict between environment and our ancient genome might be the only effective manner to arrive at “healthy aging” and to achieve this objective we might have to return to the lifestyle of the Paleolithic era according to the culture of the 21st century. (1)

In other words, it’s likely that whatever disease or health problem you might be struggling with has an inflammatory component. To combat this systemic low-grade inflammation, we need to look at health through the lens of evolution and take some diet and lifestyle tips from our ancestors.

The following lifestyle-related factors are high on the list of things that can help you combat chronic low-grade inflammation.
1. Eat more fatty fish rich in omega-3

A discussion of the anti-inflammatory effects of diet isn’t complete without mentioning omega-3. There’s solid evidence to show that omega-3 fatty acids can dampen inflammation through multiple pathways (2, 3).

Even people with little or no knowledge about nutrition and health have typically heard about the importance of eating salmon, mackerel, and other foods rich in omega-3, and every year, we spend millions of dollars on supplements containing these heart-healthy essential fatty acids. But the average intake of omega-3 has still declined dramatically since our days as hunter-gatherers while the intake of omega-6 has skyrocketed. This shifting ratio may play an important role in the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune conditions (2).
2. Get more high-quality sleep

Did you wake up from a perfect, long night’s sleep this morning? if you’re like most people in the modern, industrialized world, chances are the answer to this question is no. The use of artificial lighting and blue light-emitting devices after dark, a hectic work schedule, and alarm clocks that abruptly wake the body up before it’s ready for a new day are just some of the many things that are messing with our sleep patterns in the 21st century.

Recent studies challenge the idea that people who live traditional lifestyles get a lot more sleep than we do today (4). However, we have to keep in mind that healthy people may need less sleep than unhealthy folks. In other words, a lean and fit hunter-gatherer probably require fewer hours of sleep than a chronically inflamed Westerner. Moreover, there’s little doubt that when compared to preindustrial humans – and even more so our Paleolithic ancestors – we’re getting less high-quality sleep, much due to the invention of artificial lighting and light-emitting electronic gadgets that have the potential to upset our internal biological clock.

Several controlled experimental studies have shown that mediators of inflammation are altered by sleep loss and/or sleep disturbance (5, 6).
3. Adhere to a balanced, multifaceted exercise program

We are less physically active today than we were at any other time during human evolution. This decline in physical activity levels doesn’t just negatively impact our waistlines and the amount of muscle mass we carry, but also our susceptibility to chronic, degenerative disease.

The human genome was shaped through millions of years of evolution in environments that called for a large amount of daily physical activity. When we completely abandon this natural, ancestral milieu and adopt a more sedentary lifestyle, we’re setting ourselves up for an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and many other chronic illnesses.

Exercise is anti-inflammatory (as long as it’s not excessive) and protects against diseases associated with chronic low-grade inflammation (7, 8). An Organic Fitness program is a great choice when the goal is to lower inflammation and achieve multifaceted fitness, as it consists of a balanced proportion of strenght training, endurance exercise, sprinting, and low-intensity activities.
4. Eat more plant foods rich in prebiotic fibers

Over the past decade, it has become increasingly clear that the trillions of microorganisms that inhabit our digestive system play an essential role in controlling the inflammatory milieu in our body. Leaky gut and gut dysbiosis were once thought of by many as a bogus conditions that were diagnosed by quacks in the field of alternative medicine. However, today there are thousands of scientific papers showing that these disorders not only play a role in many health problems, but that they are at the very root of what’s causing many of the so-called diseases of civilization.

Many aspects of our modern lifestyles upset the balance between man and microbes, one of which is the lack of fermentable fiber in our diet – the types of carbohydrates that are broken down by gut bacteria in the colon. The decline in fiber intake since our days as foragers in the Paleolithic era can be attributed to the introduction of new foods into the human diet with the Agricultural and Industrial Revolution, innovations related to food production and processing, and the transition from eating nutrient-dense whole foods to eating more refined, westernized ones.

Prebiotics can strengthen the gut barrier, lower the pH in the colon, enhance the biodiversity of the gut microbiota, and allow for tighter regulation of the transport of bacterial metabolic byproducts, thereby reducing systemic inflammation (9, 10).
5. Gently cook your food

Accumulating evidence is emerging that the way we cook our food is more important than previously thought. Not only do many of us use omega-6-heavy cooking oils such as sunflower oil, as well as problematic cookware like non-stick Teflon and aluminium pans, but we also use very high temperatures and evolutionarily novel cooking methods (e.g., charcoal grilling) to prepare a lot of the food we eat, something that can generate potentially harmful compounds, such as heterocyclic amines, Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. These compounds can have a range of negative effects on human health. For example, AGEs are partly absorbed in the body and are known to contribute to increased oxidant stress and inflammation (11, 12).

The formation of these types of compounds can be reduced by cooking with moist heat, using shorter cooking times, cooking at lower temperatures, and using acidic ingredients such as lemon juice or vinegar (11).
6. Manage your stress levels

Our ancient mechanisms for dealing with stressful events evolved because they improved our ancestors’ ability to survive and reproduce in environments that were very different from the ones we live in today. For our preagricultural ancestors, alarm clocks, tight work schedules, a constantly buzzing mobile phone, and many of the other things we associate with a modern, stressful lifestyle were nonexistent. Rather than chronic stress, acute stress – such as an attack from a dangerous animal – was the main form of stress our ancient ancestors faced.

While the human body is well adapted to handle short bursts of acute stress, the repeatedly or continuously activated stress response that often accompanies life in the 21st century is another thing entirely. Chronic psychological stress, which is a persistent presence of sources of frustration and anxiety, induces a long-term activation of the fight-or-flight response, and may induce a chronic inflammatory process (13, 14).
7. Reduce or eliminate your consumption of calorie-dense, highly rewarding foods

Processed, calorie-dense foods such as pastries, pizza, and ice cream are hyper-rewarding in the sense that they contain a potent combination of sugar, salt, starch, fat, glutamate, and/or other food ingredients that in combination overwhelm the reward center in our brain (15, 16). Food manufacturers know how to use our evolved taste preferences to their advantage and hire scientists to design products that we essentially become addicted to (17).

These types of foods are obviously novel introductions to the human diet, and can initiate a vicious cycle that includes the following key elements: Overeating, increased intestinal permeability, inflammation, metabolic dysfunction, fat gain, and food cravings. Hunter-gatherer and traditional, non-westernized populations eat primarily simple, whole foods, which is one of the major reasons why obesity, metabolic disease, and autoimmune conditions are so rare in these societies.

It’s important to note that it’s not just the obvious offenders like chocolate and soda that are problematic. A high intake of calorie-dense, highly palatable foods such as nut butters, cheese, cream, and bacon can also promote excessive energy consumption and inflammation-driven health disorders.
8. When buying animal source food, opt for organic, grass-fed, and/or wild-caught varieties

It seems like rarely a week goes by when the media don’t publish new reports stating that meat causes cancer or that high-protein diets are dangerous. More often than not, these articles are based on observational studies and/or other sources of data that don’t prove a causal relationship between diet and disease risk. Moreover, the articles are usually written by journalists who don’t understand the scientific process and haven’t taken the time to look at the data as a whole.

That said, there are some protential health concerns associated with the consumption of red meat and protein-heavy diets. As I’ve pointed out before here on the blog, the problem isn’t so much the animal source foods themselves, but rather how we today produce and prepare our food. Just like humans, animals get sick and accumulate fat when they live in an environment they’re not well adapted for.

When compared to the grass-fed meats that traditional societies consumed, today’s conventionally produced animal products are typically much higher in saturated fats and lower in polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. As for fatty fish and seafood, wild-caught varieties tend to be markedly higher in omega-3 and lower in omega-6. If that wasn’t enough, conventionally produced meats and fish sometimes also contain antibiotic- and hormone-residues.

These things can contribute to raising the inflammatory tone in the body, for example by adversely affecting the serum lipid profile, thereby increasing the risk of developing atherosclerotic plaques, or by increasing the translocation of bacterial endotoxins from the gut into systemic circulation.
9. Lose excess body fat

When people lose weight their health usually improves as well. Clearly, this health improvement can largely be attributed to positive changes related to diet, physical activity, and other lifestyle components that triggered the reduction in weight. That said, the actual fat loss is also a contributing factor.

It was long believed that adipose tissue (body fat) was an “inert” energy store, but research over the last couple of decades has made it clear that this is not the case. Adipose tissue is actually a major endocrine gland that expresses and secretes many hormones (e.g., leptin), inflammatory mediators (e.g., the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α), and immune system effectors (18).

It’s well established that obesity is characterized by a state of chronic low-grade inflammation and that pro-inflammatory mediators released by fat tissue can initiate the development of chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and atherosclerosis (18). In other words, having a lot of fat mass isn’t just impractical and unaesthetic, it also negatively impacts hormone levels and immune status.
10. The bottom line: Lead an anti-inflammatory lifestyle

Besides these nine elements, reducing your intake of trans fats, salt, refined carbohydrates, and simple sugars; getting adequate sun exposure/ensuring optimal vitamin D status; taking better care of your microbiome; avoiding excessive alcohol consumption; and reducing your exposure to pollutants are some other potential strategies you can use to prevent and combat low-grade chronic inflammation. In other words, lead an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

 Chronic low-grade inflammation, a condition characterized by elevated concentrations of inflammatory markers in systemic circulation and activated inflammatory cells, is at the root of a multitude of chronic diseases and health disorders. Chances are, even if you feel “pretty good”, your health condition is still poor when compared to that of your preagricultural, hunter-gatherer ancestors, and you probably have some degree of low-level inflammation going on. Putting out this internal fire, which is the term the ancient Greeks used to describe inflammation, is key to achieving good health and a long life.
Why we get sick

Modern humans are sick. Most of us have dealt with or are currently struggling with a chronic health problem of some sort, whether it’s irritable bowel syndrome, overweight, acne vulgaris, or more serious conditions like cardiovascular disease and the metabolic syndrome. Every year we spend billions of dollars on drugs, supplements, and visits to doctors, physiotherapists, and various other health practitioners in an attempt to treat what’s ailing us, but despite the many “advancements” of modern medicine, we just seem to get sicker and sicker…

Albert Einstein once said: “To learn about health, one must study health, but we must begin now, because soon there won’t be any recollection of what good health really is”. It could be argued that we’ve now reached this point where we’ve forgotten what good health really is.

If you were to just jump into this world without any previous knowledge of how things were earlier in human history, you might think that today’s conditions represent the evolutionary norm. In other words, that chronic health problems like the ones mentioned above are just a natural part of human life.

However, as everyone in the ancestral health community knows, this is not really the case. Many of the chronic diseases that plague us in today’s society were rare or absent among our Paleolithic ancestors, a statement that is supported by several lines of evidence, including studies of isolated, traditional populations and forager communities which show that cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, and many other chronic health disorders we suffer from in today’s society are rare or absent among these people (1, 2).

If you ask your general health practitioner about the causes and solutions to this modern epidemic of chronic disease, he may tell you that each disease has its own unique, complex causes, and that the key to a healthier future is to establish which pathways, receptors, and enzymes that are involved in each condition and then design specific drugs and treatment protocols. He’ll likely also add a few words about physical activity, diet, and sleep, but given that he’s never received any proper education on these topics, he may tell you that they are of minor importance.

However, if you ask someone who practises Darwinian medicine the same question, you’ll probably get a very different answer. He’ll likely tell you that the so-called disease of civilization that plague us in the modern world don’t arise because there is something inherently flawed with the human body, but rather because we are inadequately adapted for the modern environment.

To get his arguments across, he may bring out and read aloud from some of the many excellent research papers on evolutionary health promotion that are out there, such as this 2011 paper:

    Our genes and physiology, which are still almost identical to those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors of 100,000 years ago, preserve core regulation and recovery processes  [4,5]. Nowadays our genes operate in an environment which is completely different to the one for which they were designed.

    Modern man is exposed to an environment which has changed enormously since the time of the industrial revolution. In recent decades there has been a tremendous acceleration in innovations which have changed our lives completely. As a consequence, more than 75% of humans do not meet the minimum requirement of the estimated necessary daily physical activity[6], 72% of modern food types is new in human evolution [7], psycho-emotional stress has increased and man is exposed to an overwhelming amount of information on a daily basis. All these factors combine to produce an environment full of modern danger signals which continuously activate the IIS [innate immune system] and central stress axes.

    The question is whether the IIS and its natural inflammatory response, Resoleomics, can still function optimally in this modern, fast-changing environment, considering that the IIS is designed to produce short, intensive reactions to acute external danger [8,9]. It would seem that in the bodies of people who have adopted a Western lifestyle the inflammatory response is not concluded because of an initial excessive or subnormal onset of the response [10]. (3)

Clearly, there are many causes underlying the so-called diseases of civilization. However, there’s little doubt that environment, not genes, should be the primary focus, and that the powerful and rapid changes to our lifestyle (e.g., diet, sleep, physical activity) over the last several millennia are the key to understanding why chronic diseases and health problems that were once rare are now spreading like fire in dry grass.

All in all, it’s safe to say that the conventional medical community should shift some of its focus from symptom-based treatments and the development of new drugs towards evolutionary and preventive medicine.
The silent killer

But how does our environment and lifestyle interact with our bodies to make us sick? The answer to this question will vary depending on who you ask, simply because there is no single magic bullet to solving complex health problems. However, if you dig into the scientific literature on diseases that are now common, but were once rare, you’ll quickly see that there are many overlapping trends. After all, an orchestra of lifestyle factors – such as an unhealthy diet, chronic stress, and insufficient sleep – is at the root of the diseases of civilization, and it therefore doesn’t come as a surprise that the causal mechanisms underlying these conditions have many commonalities.

As highlighted in the quote above, inflammation is one of the key words to keep in mind in the discussion of chronic disease. When properly controlled, inflammatory responses are essential to remain healthy, as inflammation is a mechanism that initiates pathogen killing, protects the host from infection, sets in motion repair processes at damaged sites, and helps restore homeostasis. However, the dark side of inflammation is that it can become pathological when there is a loss of tolerance and/or of regulatory processes.

It’s not the acute inflammation that occurs when you sprain your ankle or burn yourself on the stove that we should worry about, but rather the chronic low-grade inflammation that seems to go hand-in-hand with our modern way of life.
The inflamed modern man

Studies that have investigated the impact of diet and lifestyle on the inflammatory tone in the human body convey one clear message: In the modern industrialized world, we’re doing pretty much everything wrong. A high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, excessive energy intake, smoking, insufficient physical activity, inadequate sleep, a low intake of fruits and vegetables, chronic stress, consumption of refined food, low vitamin D status, an imbalance between the many micronutrients that make up our antioxidant/pro-oxidant network, and many other factors associated with our current Western lifestyle jointly cause a state of chronic low-grade inflammation (4, 5, 6, 7).

Top that of with the fact that we for decades have bombarded the human microbiome with broad-spectrum antibiotics, live in an environment where we are regularly exposed to various pollutants and mold toxins, and have disconnected ourselves from the natural environment by moving into modern apartment complexes, and you can quickly understand why the body of the modern man is so susceptible to inflammation-driven disease.

Adipose tissue, loose connective tissue in which fat cells accumulate, synthesizes and releases several hormones and inflammatory mediators (e.g., tumor necrosis factor alpha, interleukin 6), which partly explains why obese people tend to have higher systemic concentrations of several inflammatory compounds than normal weight persons (4). Moreover, chronic inflammation can promote overeating and weight gain by wreaking havoc on hormonal and metabolic health. This compromised state sets the stage for insulin resistance, and eventually, the illnesses associated with the metabolic syndrome (4).

Given that more than 2 billion people worldwide are now overweight or obese, this connection between elevated body fat stores and chronic inflammation clearly is of major importance in the discussion of public health.

Obesity-related health conditions are far from the only disorders out there that are characterized by a state of systemic, low-grade inflammation. Low level elevations of circulating inflammatory mediators are associated with the development of health conditions as diverse as depression, insulin resistance, and atherosclerosis (4, 8, 9).

Systemic low-grade inflammation is a common denominator of most, if not all, typically western chronic illnesses (4). Inflammation can result as a consequence of chronic disease; however, it can also drive the development and progression of disease (4, 10, 11, 12).
Controlling inflammation: A key to a longer, healthier lifespan

Given the information above, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that reducing inflammation is essential to achieving a longer, healthier lifespan.

Ageing is accompanied by increasing concentrations of systemic circulating inflammatory markers, something that has led to the coining of the term inflamm-ageing. This low-grade inflammation typical of ageing can be considered the common biological factor responsible for the decline and the onset of disease in the elderly, since the major age-related diseases share a common inflammatory pathogenesis (13).

In a recent study, researchers analyzed data from 1,500 adults between the ages of 50 and 115 years old, including 684 centenarians or supercentenarians and 167 children of centenarians, in an attempt to identify potential drivers of multiple dimensions of the ageing process up to 110 years of age. The study found that…

    Together, our results suggest that suppression of inflammation is the most important driver of successful longevity that increases in importance with advancing age and is amenable to pharmacological intervention. (14)

In other words, adopting an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle isn’t only important to achieve robust health today, but also to arrive at healthy ageing!
Cooling down our bodies

So, how can we resolve the imbalance between inflammatory and anti-inflammatory stimuli and the conflict between our environment and our ancient genome?

Since the systemic, low-grade inflammation that accompanies a Western lifestyle doesn’t originate from a single cause, there is no magic bullet, supplement, or drug that can resolve the problem. Rather, an integrated approach that includes diet, sleep, physical activity, and all of the other lifestyle components we talk so much about in the ancestral health community is needed.

Taking up an anti-inflammatory, Paleo-inspired lifestyle is the best approach to cool down an overheated, inflamed body (1, 3, 4). To gain optimal benefits, emphasis should be placed on optimizing gene expression and restoring a healthy microbiome. Pharmaceuticals and conventional medical interventions can be useful in some instances, but in general, it’s safe to say that diet, lifestyle, and environmental factors such as indoor air quality are the most important things to consider.

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