Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
How long we live is dependent on a myriad of factors, including genetics, illnesses, injury and lifestyle among others.
While some of these factors are beyond our control, there are steps we can take to manage others.
One expert explained that diet and other methods could be utilised to reduce inflammation in our bodies, something that could lower our life expectancy.
Mirthe Eckl, founder of Mirthe Precision Health, said: “Inflammation has gained a tremendous amount of interest in the research community over the past decade, due to its wide ranging effects on pretty much all health outcomes – also called ‘all cause mortality and morbidity’ in more ‘geeky’ terminology.
“Low-grade inflammation has been linked to increased risk of cancers, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, neurodegeneration like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and many more.”
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to fight infections, injuries, and toxins.
However, sometimes the inflammation can linger when it’s no longer needed, which is known to have a negative impact on your tissues and organs.
She shared some “simple” strategies to keep inflammation “at bay”.
Keep your blood sugar balanced
“Research indicates that dietary sugars and mixed processed foods may be a key factor leading to the occurrence and aggravation of inflammation,” she said.
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“Recent research has identified high blood glucose (hyperglycaemia) and the phenomenon of insulin resistance as two of the major factors contributing to an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Alzheimer’s disease has even been nicknamed as ‘type 3 diabetes’, due to its high correlation with blood sugar swings and insulin resistance.
“While chronic inflammation is an overtly upregulated immune system, blood sugar spikes have also been shown to at the same time render other immune cells less efficient, thereby tampering with our immune system’s response to invaders such as bacteria and viral infections.”
Omega 3 fatty acids
She said: “It might make sense to get a blood test to check up on your omega 3 levels once in a while, as despite most of my patients supplementing with fish oil, most are still on the lower end of what would be good for health optimisation and prevention, and would benefit from even higher levels.
“Research suggests up to 4,000 mg a day, which is much more than the generally recommended dosage.
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“A word of caution. If you choose to go for the whole foods variety (such as by eating fish), make sure to stay clear of tuna, shark and swordfish, for their high mercury content that in itself would contribute to cellular damage, and as such undo any benefits achieved from eating the omega 3 rich fish.”
Keep your gut healthy
Ms Eckl said: “Research suggests that our gut microbiome has a wide reaching effect on inflammation, nutrient absorption, brain health, heart health, and so much more.”
She shared some ways to do this.
“Focus on a mostly plant-based, Mediterranean style, whole foods diet,” she said.
“Our gut microbiome loves fibre, such as found in vegetables, nuts and seeds.
“Avoid processed and fake foods, as they too mess with our gut bacteria and gut lining integrity, contributing to something called ‘leaky gut’ and body wide inflammation.”
“Turmeric has been shown to have wonderful anti-inflammatory effects, supporting health span on all levels,” she said.
Stress management and sleep hygiene
Ms Eckl added: “Research shows that just one night of lacking good quality sleep will upregulate inflammation the next day, in particular in genetically susceptible people with a mutation in their IL6 gene.
“And while acute stress (such as a one-off work deadline or such) can lower inflammation and boost performance, long-term chronic stress has been shown to mess with receptors in the body that are in charge of downregulating inflammation, leading to an overall more inflammatory prone state in stressed out individuals.”
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