Managing the Inflammatory Response

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each day, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Managing the Inflammatory Response – Natural Support

Better Communication is the Key

Inflammation is the body’s natural way of defending itself against insults and protecting the integrity of its organs and systems. The complicated inflammatory response usually remains tightly controlled through a voluminous exchange of intercellular messages transmitted via small proteins (“cytokines”) that flow between cells, allowing them to coordinate their defensive, demolition and reconstruction activities. Cytokines also provide “reminders” to the cells that produced them.

How each cell responds to a message depends on what type of cell it is. For example, the cytokine, interleukin-1, will stimulate cells in the hypothalamus to generate a fever but will tell cells in the liver to produce other cytokines that instruct cells elsewhere in the body (such as “TNF-a”, which stimulates the proliferation of lymphocytes). The large amount of cytokine “cross talk” creates networks of sequential and simultaneous responses throughout the body.

The regulation of the severity, extent and duration of an inflammatory response to a stimulus depends on whether the stimulus is short-term or persistent. Under normal healthy circumstances the initial inflammatory response will be effective in removing the stimulus and a set of anti-inflammatory cytokines will communicate a “job well done – time to relax” message that will restore the balance between active responses, vigilant surveillance and inactivity in the immune system.

Unfortunately, the complex communication network can become short-circuited or fail. When that happens, either the body may fail to respond effectively to an inflammatory stimulus or it may overreact. As demonstrated in an article published recently in Blood, predisposition to inflammatory overreaction increases with age.1

As the balance between the pro-inflammatory system and the anti-inflammatory system gradually tips in favor of increased (and possibly excessive) reactivity, the need for effective nutritional support of your immune system becomes increasingly urgent.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Tips for Promoting a Normal Healthy, Balanced Inflammatory Response: Less Heat, More Nutrition

References:
1. Penninx BW, Kritchevsky SB, Newman AB, Nicklas BJ, Simonsick EM, Rubin S, Nevitt M, Visser M, Harris T, Pahor M. Inflammatory markers and incident mobility limitation in the elderly. J Am Geriatr Soc 2004;52:1105-1113.


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