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The best weapon against aging and inflammation? Eating!

The best weapon against aging and inflammation? Eating!

Eating to keep from getting old, by counteracting inflammation. This is possible thanks to some beneficial foods, such as probiotics and prebiotics, which, by supporting the intestinal microbiota, help to counteract inflammaging, which is the inflammation that occurs over the years and that opens the way to cellular degeneration, neurodegeneration, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Today we are talking about the results presented in a very recent review published in the journal Nutrients by a Japanese team (Warman et al, Nutrients, 2022), which focused its attention on the link between probiotics, prebiotics and inflammaging.

What happens to our body with aging

As we age our body undergoes changes, some balances are altered and the risk of getting sick increases. In particular, two phenomena are predominant, namely an always constant level of inflammation, called inflammaging, which is a physiological inflammation resulting from aging, and alterations in the composition of the gut microbiota. The microbiota is the set of bacteria that populate our gut on whose health the health of the whole organism depends, such as the functioning of the immune system, body weight, brain and heart health and, precisely, the level of inflammation.

The link between microbiota and inflammation

Studies have been able to demonstrate that it is possible to reduce inflammation while keeping the intestinal microbiota healthy during aging. Probiotics are live organisms, taken orally through food or supplements, capable of bringing balance in the microbiota, increasing the presence of good bacteria. Prebiotics are substances introduced with the diet that nourish the good bacteria, thus helping to maintain the health of the intestinal microbiota. The intake of probiotics and prebiotics, therefore, is considered beneficial for the health of the bacteria that populate our gut. However, it is still not clear whether their intake can help reduce the phenomenon of inflammaging. Precisely to shed light on this aspect, the Japanese researchers have published the review we are talking about today.

Probiotics and prebiotics beneficial against inflammaging

What emerged, thanks to a great deal of research and comparison of previous studies, is that in fact the intake of probiotics, such as bacteria belonging to the Bifidobacterium spp. and Akkermansia munichipilla, may contribute to the reduction of inflammaging, with a lower presence of circulating pro-inflammatory substances. Prebiotics, in the form of resistant starches and proteins, also showed a clear anti-inflammatory action. In particular, this effect is evidenced by a greater production of butyrate, a substance capable of stimulating good intestinal functioning and counteracting inflammation, and by an improvement in the balance of the intestinal microbiota.

Where to find probiotics and prebiotics

Therefore, a healthy and varied diet that includes probiotics and prebiotics is useful in countering the phenomenon of inflammaging, with benefits for the heart, brain and immune system. But how to take these substances? Probiotics are taken in the form of supplements or with particular foods, such as yoghurt or drinks, added with probiotics. The latter case must be clearly stated on the label, in fact, not all yogurts contain probiotics, since the live enzymes used for yogurt production do not exceed the stomach. As for prebiotics, the study analyzed the action of two types of prebiotics, in particular resistant proteins and resistant starches. Resistant proteins are contained in soy, buckwheat, rice and potatoes. Resistant starches are found in potatoes, legumes, rice, especially when, once cooked, it is left to cool, in bananas, cashew nuts and oats.
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