June 17, 2024

Inflammaging: The Hidden Link Between Inflammation and Aging

photo of Allie Baker

Written By

Allie Baker

photo of Sybille Moore, PA-C, IFMCP

Medically Reviewed By

Sybille Moore, PA-C, IFMCP

Lifeforce Clinician

photo of Jennifer Rocca-Sexton, PA-C, IFMCP

Medically Reviewed By

Jennifer Rocca-Sexton, PA-C, IFMCP

Lifeforce Clinician

Inflammaging: The Hidden Link Between Inflammation and Aging

You’ve probably heard about the dangers of inflammation. You definitely know about the perils and pitfalls of aging. But what about when you combine the two? You get “inflammaging,” a new term that refers to an age-old process — the chronic, low-grade inflammation that often occurs with aging. 

Emerging research shows that inflammaging may increase our risk for chronic disease and be the reason we’re more likely to develop health conditions as we get older. The bright side: Studies show that mitigating inflammation with early interventions can successfully prevent illness and promote longevity. 

“Controlling inflammation through anti-inflammatory lifestyle habits may be one of the most impactful ways to promote healthy aging,” says Lifeforce Senior Health Coach Kristen Alexander. 

Our experts explain exactly what inflammation is, why it increases over time, and how we can get ahead of inflammaging starting right now. 

Inflammation 101

Inflammation gets a bad rap — and we’ll explain why — but we do actually need some inflammation in our bodies to handle an important job. 

“Inflammation is a natural response of the body's immune system, akin to a biological defense mechanism,” says Senior Lifeforce Health Coach Kelly Lynch. “When faced with injury, infection, or harmful stimuli, the body's immune cells rally together to address the threat and initiate the healing process.”

This is known as an acute inflammatory response. According to Lifeforce Clinician Sybille Moore, PA-C, “An acute inflammatory response, such as when you're sick with the flu, is necessary and helpful to allow your body to fight infection.” 

The problem comes in when inflammation persists over time, even at a lower level. “Chronic inflammation, in essence, is like having a smoldering fire within the body that never fully extinguishes. This sustained inflammatory response can lead to damage to tissues and cells throughout the body, contributing to an acceleration of the aging process and an increased susceptibility to various age-related diseases,” Lynch says. “Think of chronic inflammation as a persistent background noise, constantly signaling distress within the body's systems. Over time, this ongoing inflammation can have far-reaching consequences, increasing the risk of conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and certain types of cancer.”

Another thing to keep in mind: “In addition to contributing to these chronic diseases that threaten longevity, inflammation also can worsen cognitive function and make us more susceptible to stroke and dementia,” Moore warns. 

Basically, it comes down to maintaining a delicate balance in the body. “While inflammation is a necessary part of the body's defense mechanism, keeping it in check is crucial to prevent it from turning against us and speeding up the aging process,” says Lynch.

Anti Inflammatory Hacks & Inflammaging - What Causes Inflammaging

What Causes Inflammaging?

Unfortunately, inflammaging is a vicious cycle. Inflammation naturally increases with age and inflammation contributes to aging. 

Several factors make inflammation go up along with our age. “As we get older, our thymus gland gets continually smaller, causing our immune system to undergo changes. This is known as immunosenescence. Those changes lead to chronic low-grade inflammation,” explains Lifeforce Clinician Jennifer Rocca-Sexton, PA-C. “Next, cellular senescence — cells that have stopped dividing — accumulate with age and secrete inflammatory cytokines, chemokines, and other pro-inflammatory factors. Elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 and TNF-alpha, and decreased immune system responses, cause chronic inflammation.”

Additionally, Rocca-Sexton says that our environment and lifestyle play an important role. “Accumulated exposure to environmental toxins like pollution and radiation, stress, poor nutrition, and cellular damage over a lifetime can increase inflammatory processes and accelerate aging,” she says. 

While inflammation is already increasing with age, it can then further speed up the aging process by promoting oxidative stress and damaging cells, Rocca-Sexton explains. “Pro-inflammatory cytokines can disrupt cellular function, impair DNA repair, and contribute to the development of age-related diseases.”

Get Ahead of Inflammaging With Biomarker Testing 

So, how do we break this cycle? The first step is knowing where you stand. The Lifeforce Diagnostic — our at-home blood test that measures 50+ biomarkers — including several markers that can point to inflammation levels. Here are some of the key numbers to know:

C-Reactive Protein (hs-CRP): “C-Reactive Protein is a commonly used biomarker for inflammation,” Rocca-Sexton says. “Elevated levels indicate systemic inflammation and can be associated with various inflammatory conditions, cardiovascular disease, and infection.”  Research shows that high levels of hs-CRP can increase the chance of a future heart attack. 

White Blood Cell Count (WBC): A WBC count measures the number of white blood cells (aka leukocytes) in your blood. White blood cells help your body fight infections. “A high WBC count, or an increase in a certain type of white blood cell (neutrophil, lymphocyte, eosinophil), can indicate acute inflammation, infection, or allergen exposure,” Rocca-Sexton says. 

Glucose and Hemoglobin A1C: Moore also recommends looking at these blood sugar biomarkers. “While these aren't direct signs of inflammation per se, if I see that an individual has elevated levels, indicating insulin resistance, I know they're inflamed,” she explains. “Keeping blood sugar levels in appropriate ranges is one of the most effective ways to keep chronic inflammation levels down.”

Learn more about each of these biomarkers here

The Lifefore Diagnostic includes a telehealth visit with a Lifeforce clinician, where you can review your biomarkers and discuss your inflammation risks. When you join the Lifeforce Membership, you will also have a dedicated Lifeforce team — including a clinician and health coach — that will help you make a proactive plan to optimize your health as you age.

Anti Inflammatory Hacks & Inflammaging - 7 Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Hacks

7 Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Hacks 

Want to get started reducing inflammation and rewinding the clock? Try adopting these seven healthy, inflammation-fighting habits. 

1. Regular Exercise 

The human body is meant to be moving, and doing a variety of different activities is important. This includes both aerobic activity and strength training,” says Moore.

When it comes to cardio, even a short workout can mean long-term benefits. Research shows that just 20 minutes of moderate treadmill exercise resulted in a 5% decrease in the production of the inflammatory cytokine TNF. 

There is also strong evidence that strength training curbs chronic inflammation. A study found that regular strength training helped decrease leukocyte and lymphocyte counts and increase hemoglobin — all signs of inflammation reduction. Resistance training is also key for metabolic health and hormone balance. “Building and maintaining lean muscle is such a crucial part of maintaining good metabolic health as we age,” says Moore. 

2. High-Quality Sleep 

Sleep is a simple, yet often overlooked, piece of healthy aging,” Moore says. “Getting sufficient high-quality sleep is so critical, as this is when we get rid of metabolic waste and recharge the battery so that we can make hormones, perform cellular repair, and prepare for the next day.” 

Research shows that sleep deprivation is associated with increases in inflammatory molecules, including cytokines, interleukin-6, and C-Reactive Protein.

Cautions Moore, “Consistently sleeping only five to six hours a night is like running around with your cell phone partially charged and hoping it will magically last all day. Yes it will function, but not at optimal levels.”

3. Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Load up on foods rich in flavonoids, a type of polyphenol known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Studies show that plant-derived flavonoid sources may help reduce the risk of chronic, lifespan-shortening conditions such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. 

Flavonoids are found in a variety of fruits, vegetables, and grains. “Sources like blueberries and green tea may have anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects,” Lynch says. You can also get flavonoids from leafy vegetables, onions, apples, cherries, soybeans, and citrus fruits.

4. Mind-Body Practices for Stress Relief

Stress is the enemy of optimal health. Stress leads to chronic inflammation, and 75% to 90% of diseases are related to the activation of the stress system.

Of course, it’s not as simple as stress less. “It's less about living a stress-free life and more about teaching your body to manage your response to these stressors in a better manner,” Moore says. “Chronically living in a state in which your nervous system is on sympathetic overdrive will tax the body quickly. I encourage members to find a stress relief technique that they like to do so they will keep up the habit, whether that is meditation, breathwork, or journaling for a few minutes daily.”

Lynch adds that mind-body practices will enhance self-awareness, regulate autonomic function, and promote emotional well-being, which can all help reduce inflammation. She also recommends exploring “energy healing modalities like Reiki, acupuncture, or sound therapy to rebalance the body's energy systems and promote healing on a holistic level.”

Anti Inflammatory Hacks & Inflammaging - Hot Cold Therapies

5. Cold and Heat Therapies

Some cool news: Studies show that cold therapy can release anti-inflammatory markers. “Incorporate cold exposure techniques like cold showers, ice baths, or cryotherapy sessions to stimulate the body's adaptive stress response, increase metabolic rate, and reduce inflammation,” Lynch suggests. 

Turning up the heat may also turn back the aging process. Heat therapy has been shown to improve mitochondrial and vascular function. “Explore heat therapy modalities such as infrared saunas or hot yoga to promote detoxification, improve circulation, and enhance relaxation,” Lynch says.

6. Environmental Optimization 

“Pay attention to environmental factors that may contribute to inflammation, such as air quality, electromagnetic radiation, and chemical exposures,” Lynch recommends. “Consider using air purifiers, EMF shielding devices, and non-toxic household products to create a more health supportive environment.”

7. Supplements and Adaptogens 

Supplement your healthy lifestyle habits with a supplement routine. “Incorporate nootropic supplements, such as omega-3s, curcumin, and resveratrol for their anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits,” Lynch says. “You can also experiment with adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha, rhodiola, and holy basil to help modulate the body's stress response, enhance resilience, and reduce inflammation.”

A stack of Lifeforce supplements can also help you stack up against inflammaging. Peak NMN™️ improves your body’s inflammatory response while Peak Healthspan™️ targets all nine major hallmarks of aging and increases the expression of longevity genes. 

Start with one or two of these habits that seem the most doable and build from there to play the long game. “At Lifeforce, we're big on optimizing health to maintain longevity,” Moore says. “Keeping inflammation levels low is a critical part of this.” 

This article was medically reviewed by: 

  • Sybille Moore, PA-C, Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner

  • Jennifer Rocca-Sexton, PA-C, M.S., M.PAS, Institute for Functional Medicine Certified Practitioner

Related Products

Lifeforce Membership
Life force & performance
  • Quarterly blood testing, written clinical summaries, and telehealth reviews to track progress and refine the program

  • Personal analytics and lifestyle coaching via our member’s portal

  • Unlimited ongoing access to our medical team and your health coach

  • 20% off discount on our full range of nutraceuticals, plus early access to new products


Cardiac + immune

Lifeforce Omega is the most comprehensive omega-3 supplement available. Omega-3s are at the core of heart, brain, immunity, and mood support. This high-purity, high-impact broad spectrum omega blend helps your body absorb three times more long-chain omega-3s than similar products. This makes Lifeforce Omega a potent tool to support heart health, immune function, and inflammatory response. It also helps boost mood, regulate blood sugar, and optimize HDL, LDL, and triglyceride levels that are within a healthy range.