Don’t get inflamed!

Inflammation notorious for speeding up aging process

By Deb Dittner

inflammationThe words seem to be endless when it comes to speaking about those who are in their “golden years.”

Personally, I’m not fond of any of these words as I continue to feel young and am always on the go despite my actual age. So what makes people feel not so young anymore?

I think a lot of it has to do with everyday habits and how these habits play a part in inflammation.

Inflammation is not always a bad thing. It helps remove toxins and fight against infection to create the best of health. There are two types of inflammation — chronic and acute. Chronic inflammation increases the aging process and risk for chronic disease such as diabetes or heart issues lasting for months or years.

Acute inflammation can occur after an injury causing pain, redness and swelling. As the injury heals, these symptoms go away.

So how can we fight inflammation? Let’s start by changing some habits.

— Eliminate processed foods from your everyday nutrition. Foods such as white bread, vegetable oils, candy, margarine, meals in a box and other processed foods increase inflammation and cause aging. It’s best to look for foods with omega-3 fatty acids such as avocado, flaxseeds and olive oil.

— Eliminate red meat as this increases gut inflammation, promoting aging. Other meats such as poultry and fish lower the risk of inflammation. If you do eat red meat, make sure it’s the best quality that you can afford.

— Stop smoking. Smoking is linked to many diseases such as cancer and heart disease.  Smoking also breaks down collagen, a protein keeping your skin young and healthy looking.

— Drinking too much alcohol, more than seven drinks weekly, increases the risk of inflammation, which accelerates aging. Drinking can cause the skin to wrinkle, creating fine lines, and also produce acne. However, drinking one to seven drinks a week may lower the risk of heart issues and death.

Get proper sleep

— Poor or inadequate sleep can cause you to age faster. If you suffer from insomnia, consult your primary provider for ways to deal with this lack of sleep.

Some helpful hints include but are not limited to taking a bath in Epsom salts with essential oils such as lavender; removing the TV from the bedroom; eliminating the TV, iPhone, iPad and other electronics a minimum of one hour before retiring; enjoying a relaxing cup of tea, or reading a book or magazine.

— Vitamin D levels are too low. Vitamin D can help curb inflammation, keeps your bones strong, and aids in immunity. Summertime is great for sunlight exposure for at least 20 minutes daily.

Some foods are fortified with Vitamin D, particularly mushrooms and tofu. Request from your health care provider a test for Vitamin D level to determine if a supplement is necessary.

I often recommend having Vitamin D tested during the four seasons as your exposure to the sun will vary as will your need to supplement.

— Sitting for many hours causes a chronic low-grade inflammation in the body creating deficient metabolic health. Sitting for too long also adds to the waistline.

If you work from home, on the computer for hours on end, watch TV from the 6 o’clock news to the 11 o’clock news, this will cause stress to the body.

It’s recommended to stand up multiple times each hour, go get a refill on your water, use the bathroom, or invest in a standing desk.

— Make time for community. Get out with family or friends daily, go to a movie, go to the farmer’s market, walk the dog at the dog park, take a class in a subject you’re interested in, go to the gym — in other words, get out there and socialize.

• Deborah Dittner is a family nurse practitioner and health consultant. Her mission is to transform as many individuals as possible through nutrition and lifestyle changes. For more information, check out her website at or contact her at 518-596-8565.