It has been well documented that inflammation increases as people age. Inflammation can increase risk for chronic disease, poor level of function, and death. Several strategies have been suggested to reduce inflammation in older adults, including medication, diet, and exercise. A recent article published in Aging and Disease reviewed the research on these strategies. The authors found that, while medications could be helpful, some barriers such as access and cost could prevent many elderly people from getting the drugs they need.
Several studies found that nutritional changes such as decreased energy intake to promote weight loss, intake of plant sterols and stenols (components of plant cells that have been shown to mimic cholesterol and block its uptake from food), using prebiotics, and increasing certain types of fats have been shown to reduce inflammation. In addition, both cardio and resistance training have been shown to reduce markers of age related inflammation in both observational and intervention studies. One of the main theories to explain this is that exercise and dietary changes promote fat loss, and fat tissue is known to contain more pro-inflammatory substances.
Exercise can cause inflammation in the short term in people who begin working out after a long period of inactivity. However, studies have shown that the body will adapt and exercise will begin to reduce inflammation, build muscle mass, and improve quality of life. To promote optimal health, adults, especially older adults, should engage in regular physical activity, consume a healthful diet low in saturated fat and moderate in unsaturated fats, which are found in salmon, avocado, and nuts. Adults should also avoid highly processed foods and consume plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Woods JA, Wilund KR, Martin SA, Kistler BM. Exercise, Aging, and Inflammation. Aging Dis. 2012 Feb;3(1):130-40. Epub 2011 Oct 29.