This is increasingly recognized as one of the key processes in the development of degenerative diseases and the aging process, as it occurs at a cellular level. Basically, when our cells get sick, we get sick. Paradoxically, it is also the mechanisms by which the body protects itself, as our immune system fights foreign invaders, infections and injury by releasing inflammatory agents. This inflammation creates stiffness and swelling to maximize the time for immune cells to do their job.
The key variable, in terms of the impact on our health, is the duration of the inflammation. When the underlying cause of the inflammation is not removed, the inflammatory response becomes chronic (long term). Most degenerative diseases – such as Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes, Cancer, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer disease – are now thought of as being at least partly caused by chronic inflammation. This is why age researchers say that one of the best ways to improve longevity is to stay free of illness a much as possible, not because minor illness and infection kill us, but because they induce a state of inflammation, and there appears to be a cumulative effect.
So, what are the major culprits in terms of inflammation? Free radicals are a major cause, as are the following, which may cause inflammation directly or indirectly through production of more free radicals:
- Cigarette smoke
- Over exposure to radiation
- Exposure to drugs and chemicals
- Trans fats and chemicals in processed foods
- Elevated blood sugar
- Excess weight (especially fat around the stomach)
- Nutritional deficiencies (such as vitamin D)
- Nutritional excesses (such as Iron)
- Sleep deprivation
Taken from “The Secrets of Longevity” by Paul Taylor
Taylor, P. (June 30, 2007). Secret of Longevity – Part I. Retrieved – May 4, 2010, from http://www.ptonthenet.com/