Inflammation and Aging

Science has discovered that inflammation is at the root of many chronic, degenerative and even fatal diseases that deprive millions of people each year of health, wellness and longevity. Inflammation does much damage to the body by depositing plaque in arteries, eroding joints and bones and causing excess weight gain. Worse, inflammation can take years off of one’s life both in terms of quality and quantity. The good news is that Eastern medicine has been effectively dealing with inflammation for at least 2,000 years before Western medicine through anti-inflammatory foods, herbal therapy, bodywork, acupuncture and mind-body exercises. Ever wonder why arthritis is less prevalent in the tropics than in the northern hemisphere? The answer may lie in the abundant tropical fruits consumed by its inhabitants. Researchers have isolated beneficial enzymes such as papain and bromelain in tropical fruits like papaya and pineapple, respectively. These enzymes assist not only in digestion but also in reducing inflammation. They help by breaking down cytokines in the blood that cause inflammation, removing fibrin, the clotting material that prolongs inflammation, and reducing swelling in the areas of inflammation. Other fruits that contain beneficial enzymes are passion fruit, mangos and kiwis. You can also take papain and bromelain in capsules, which are usually available at a health food store or online.

Astragalus, or Huang Qi, is a well-known tonic herb in Chinese medicine that promotes a healthy immune system and strengthens your body against disease. Sometimes called milk vetch, it is used in arthritis conditions to promote repair and regeneration of joints. In addition to its reputation as a whole-body protector, astragalus improves digestion and metabolism. It is used for cases where fatigue, lack of appetite and diarrhea are present. Studies show that

it seems to be particularly useful for those who suffer from frequent colds and flu. Astragalus is an adaptogen that helps the body to maintain normal functions and repair itself during stressful times, to boost energy, support red and white blood-cell regeneration and help reduce side effects from chemotherapy and radiation. It can be taken in tea or capsule form, but is often used as part of a formula with other herbs.

With their incredible flavors and amazing health properties, herbs and spices bring out the best in longevity cooking. A variety of herbs and spices will also help you put down the salt shaker, which is welcoming news for your heart. Store dried herbs and spices in airtight glass jars in a dark place. The volatile oils in herbs and spices, which are responsible for their healing abilities, will eventually evaporate, taking all the beneficial properties with them. When bottled spices aren’t giving off much of a fragrance, it’s time to toss them – typically six to twelve months. I use plenty of herbs and spices, so my supplies typically run out before their expiration dates.

Here is my Anti-Inflammatory Spice Blend, which helps combat inflammation: dried basil, cracked black pepper, ground cinnamon, chili powder, ground cloves, curry powder, fennel seed, dried marjoram, ground nutmeg, dried oregano, dried rosemary, dried sage, dried tarragon and dried thyme.