‘Inflamm-aging’, a word coined from inflammation and aging.
Is all inflammation bad and does all inflammation lead to aging? The answer is no.
Inflammation in acute circumstances is not a bad thing, in fact it is necessary for the body to heal and repair. Inflammation is a very natural response to triggers such as injury, chemical toxins, microbial infection, free radical damage, etc.
However, chronic inflammation at the cellular level is something that should not happen, and if left untreated, can lead to premature aging and even diseases such as auto-immune diseases. Chronic inflammation occurs when the tissues and organs receive inflammatory mediation messages that cause them to over react, and as a result, don’t complete the inflammatory cycle. A big part of keeping inflammation in check is to modulate cytokine activation, essentially, we do this by promoting and keeping T-helper cell balance (more on that later). T-helper cells are a class of lymphocytes that help with the immune system response to inflammation and different threats to the body. A balanced profile of T-helper cells is crucial for immune defenses and tissue homeostasis.
When one system in the body is compromised, it can set others off as well. For instance, we know that there is a strong gut-brain axis, and there is also a gut-lung axis as well, everything in the body in interconnected.
When there is chronic inflammation happening, there is also free radical damage going on as well, and the right type of anti-inflammatory components such as antioxidants will be necessary.
The most common type of inflammation I see is in the gut, and no wonder, with inflammatory ingredients found in pet food like corn and wheat gluten, with meat meals (which are not digestible by the way). When there is inflammation in the body, it actually shortens the telomeres of DNA strands, which can lead to premature aging, the good news is that there are also herbs like astragalus that have been shown to lengthen DNA telomeres.
When There Is Stress In The Body
A stressed pet is an inflamed pet.
What stress does is it actually shortens the length of telomeres in the body, and just feeds inflammation in the body.
Stress promotes higher Th2 levels and lowers Th1 levels, which increases Th17 levels in the body which then increases self-tissue response. To help mediate T-helper cell balance, one would first look into rebalancing healthy Th1 cell activation and modulate the Th2 immune response and balance immune function at the cellular level. For example, during dysbiosis, the intestinal lining becomes a factory for making inflammatory cytokines. The appropriate response to that, is to raise the natural killer cells in the body to combat that.
By working in different stages, once T-helper cells are supported to be in a balanced state, it also promotes a balanced immune response. A proper T-cell polarization will not only help to resolve inflammation, but also with killing tissue infection, hollow organ infection (G.I., lung, sinus, bladder), and quieting autoimmunity response.
Here are just a few examples of what this does long term to the body if left unchecked;
-Kidney and liver disease
Just to name a few!
To really understand aging, we have to first see that it is simply not just an automatic result of time passing, rather the result of reversible events that happen in all cells, regardless of the tissue or organ system to which they belong to.
There are things that accelerate this process, and there are also things that work the opposite way.
For example, did you know that by supplementing with an oil such as an omega-3 that has gone rancid you are actually promoting free radical damage in the body? (side note: make sure you buy your supplements from highly reputable companies).
What does this mean?
Physiological stress= Inflammation =accelerated aging!
This is why quality foods and supplements are so important. Quality foods meaning a species appropriate diet (feeding your pets what they were designed to eat), no GMOs, no antibiotics or growth hormones in food production animals, free of pesticides and any synthetics and fillers.
We know that sugar ages us and promotes inflammation, and that is not any different for our pets. Foods that promote inflammation and aging in pets are;
-High glycemic carbs
-High starch carbs
-Low quality proteins
-GMOs (Genetically Modified Foods)
-A high processed diet that contains chemical additives, artificial colors and preservatives.
-High lectin type foods such as lentils, peas, etc.
…all these foods prematurely ages our pets, let’s also remember that dogs and cats are carnivores, so these types of foods are not appropriate to feed any way.
We as pet guardians want to make sure we do everything we can to slow down aging, which also means keeping inflammation in check.
I believe in order to do that, we must first feed functional foods that promote happy and healthy cells, foods that serve as antioxidants, enhance immune system response and cell to cell communication, detoxify carcinogens, repair DNA damage, cause cancer cells to die, and feed easy to digest foods, some examples are;
-High quality proteins
-Cruciferous vegetables such as; broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage brussel sprouts and bok choy
-Greens that are high in phycocyanin and phytonutrients such as; spirulina, AFA E3 Live algae, wheatgrass, barley grass, phytoplankton
-Foods high in vitamin C such as berries, apples and rosehips in moderate amounts
-Gluten free grains such as quinoa or millet
-Quality bee products such as; honey, pollen, propolis and royal jelly
-Healing herbs such as slipper elm, Licorice root, curcumin, garlic (in moderate amounts), ginger
-Herbs that have been shown to lengthen telomeres such as andrographis and astragalus
-Red algaes like astaxanthin
-Cold pressed oils
I am also a very firm believer in detoxing, the right way of course, to lighten the load of the body and the immune system of toxins like heavy metals and pesticides. I believe a heavy toxin load can also accelerate aging, and promote inflammation in the body.
When fed and supplemented appropriately, your pets will just thrive throughout their lives and radiate good health, in fact, it is not uncommon for my customers to report to me saying that when strangers meet their senior pets, they just can’t believe they are as old as they are!
Now that has to feel good, and don’t we all want that for our pets?
Lucy is an avid pet mom; with dogs, cats, goats and horses to keep her busy! All of her pet 'kids' are fed a species appropriate diet with proper supplementation so she can watch them thrive. Her expertise and experience lie in nutraceutical supplementation and is a health advocate for proper diet and nutrition. Her other passions in life are schutzhund and equestrian riding.