Finding the Cause of Age-Related Inflammation

January 28, 2017

We've known for some time that inflammation levels typically increase with age. And you probably know that inflammation is challenging to your body. Many of the suggestions and solutions offered in these alerts ultimately come down to ways to minimize inflammation throughout the body.

Interestingly, while scientists have known for decades that inflammation goes up along with the number of candles on your birthday cake, they didn't actually know why this happens. That means they could only offer ways to deal with the problem rather than prevent it. Now, new research is shedding light on a possible source of this age-related inflammation - and what we can do about it.

A study published in Cell Host & Microbe focused on something that's become a hot topic in the research community in recent years: gut microbes. Lately, study after study has been uncovering a new way in which the makeup of bacteria in our guts affects our health. This is yet another one of those studies, but it certainly sheds some interesting light on the aging process.

For this study, the researchers raised some mice in a germ-free environment and others in conventional conditions. They found that the germ-free mice (who never got a chance to populate their guts with healthy or harmful bacteria) didn't experience typical age-related increases in inflammation. In fact, many of them lived unusually long, healthy lives.

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These mice also didn't experience increases in intestinal permeability (leaky gut) or in associated bacteria or pro-inflammatory cytokines in their blood. And this seems to be the key difference between the two groups. The researchers believe the increase in intestinal permeability that occurs with age is allowing inflammation-promoting bacteria to escape into our bloodstreams.

This creates a vicious cycle because these bacteria weaken our immune system, which in turn increases inflammation and intestinal permeability, allowing more bacteria to escape. However, the good news is that the reverse may be true: decreasing inflammation will allow the immune system to recover, which in turn will allow it to take on the bad bacteria and help repair the gut.

These findings also help explain why some of our healthy habits go such a long way in helping us age gracefully. Eating a healthy diet in particular helps gut bacteria stay in balance — and provides you with inflammation-fighting antioxidants if the bad guys do get the upper hand for a time. Another easy way to protect your gut is to take a high-quality probiotic, such as Advanced Probiotic Formula. This ensures that your gut is getting daily reinforcements of the good guys to help keep leaky gut and the associated inflammation under control. Since the other option is to live in a germ-free bubble like the mice, it's better to give the probiotic a try.

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Netusha Thevaranjan, Alicja Puchta, Christian Schulz, Avee Naidoo, J.C. Szamosi, Chris P. Verschoor, Dessi Loukov, Louis P. Schenck, Jennifer Jury, Kevin P. Foley, Jonathan D. Schertzer, Maggie J. Larché, Donald J. Davidson, Elena F. Verdú, Michael G. Surette, Dawn M.E. Bowdish. Age-Associated Microbial Dysbiosis Promotes Intestinal Permeability, Systemic Inflammation, and Macrophage Dysfunction. Cell Host & Microbe, 2017; 21 (4): 455 DOI: 10.1016/j.chom.2017.03.002

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