Invite Health Podcast, Episode hosted by Amanda Williams, MPH.
Inflammaging is a term that I really like to talk about because it’s so common. At the end of the day, what we’re really discussing is the chronic low-grade inflammation that leads to an accelerated aging process. We know many different things about chronic low-grade inflammation. Today, I want to discuss in more detail the pathogenesis of this and what we can be doing, especially in terms of one component that comes from our adrenal glands, and that is DHEA. DHEA controls so many aspects of our inflammatory response, as well as our immune system response.†
What is inflammaging?
Inflammaging is that chronic inflammation that leads to accelerated aging. What we know is that long-term chronic low-grade inflammation is a contributing factor to nearly every single chronic disease state out there, such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic kidney disease and Alzheimer’s disease. What we need to recognize is the pathogenesis and understand the difference between acute inflammation and chronic inflammation. Acute inflammation is welcomed. It’s the type of inflammation that is protecting us from injury and infection. Chronic inflammation, however, is damaging at a cellular level, which can lead to overall systemic function.†
How to help fight against inflammation
We know that having a diet that is packed with foods that are high in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids are very beneficial when it comes to keeping our bodies in a lowered inflammatory status. This is why I so often refer to the Mediterranean diet. This is why you want to fill your plates with bright, colorful fruits and vegetables and have things like seeds and nuts as snacks as opposed to chips and crackers. All of these things can certainly help to keep the body in a state of much less inflammation. High-sugar foods and bad carbohydrates definitely can drive up that inflammation. You want to incorporate high-fatty fish such as salmon. That is certainly something that can help with easing inflammation because we’re getting greater inflammation of those omega-3 fatty acids.†
We also know that, as part of a basic supplementation routine, we want to have omega-3s on board, so fish oil, krill oil or flaxseed oil. We want to have high antioxidants in our daily supplementation routine coming from things such as a multivitamin that provides us with Vitamin C, Vitamin E and powerful carotenoids.†
The role of DHEA in inflammaging
DHEA, or dehydroepiandrosterone, is a hormone that is produced in the adrenal gland. It is the most abundant of all of our steroid hormones that are produced in our adrenal glands. In women, the majority of DHEA is going to be coming strictly from the adrenals. In men, they produce the majority from the adrenals, but they may get a small amount made from the testes as well.†
DHEA is really critical to our overall wellness for a variety of different reasons. DHEA is made from cholesterol and it is stimulated to be released by the body through what is known as ACTH, which is adrenocorticotropic hormone. That is coming from the pituitary gland.†
For more information about the various functions of DHEA, tune into the full podcast episode.
The aging process itself can disrupt the body’s hormonal balance. DHEA levels play a really critical role in all of this. By the time you’re 70 or 80 years old, your DHEA levels have fallen by 80 to 90% compared to where they were when you were in your 20s. Many studies have shown that low levels of DHEA sulfate in the body are linked with the pathophysiological changes in numerous age-associated diseases, such as cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, bone loss, low mood and sexual dysfunction.†
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DHEA has also been studied in a variety of different inflammatory disorders. When you have low DHEA, this can make a huge impact on the rate of inflammation within the body. So many different studies out there indicate how DHEA works in the body.†
A study done and published in 2011 in the Journal of Aging looked specifically at how DHEA supplementation could have an impact on certain markers for inflammation. This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial where they found that DHEA supplementation helped to improve levels for these different markers that they were looking at, things like TNF alpha and IL-6. Also in this study, they found that those who were supplementing with DHEA actually had an improvement in their triglycerides, as well as in their blood glucose levels. That shows you the way that DHEA is impacting so many different systems in the body.†
Tune into the full podcast episode for additional research on the role of DHEA in the body.
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