The latest WHO data shows that Spaniards live to an average of 83 years. This figure seems to be a success, because our life expectancy has never been so high, but it is better not to claim victory. “From the age of 60 we are already polymedicated, which means that the quality of life is not good,” says nutritionist Marc Vergès. This early and poorly managed aging can be the result of non-aggressive inflammation, but one that is sustained over time and sometimes goes unnoticed. Bloating, chronic fatigue, irregular bowel movements, insomnia and obesity are some of the symptoms that alert us to this. There are ways to combat it, and diet is usually the key.
how do we do it Marc Vergés answers this question in his new book vent. Everything you need to know to have optimal health and slow down aging (Grijalbo). In it, he explains what causes this mild inflammation, starting with stress, a reaction that has helped us survive for centuries, but when it becomes chronic it does us no good. “Cortisol stays at high levels for too long and eventually inflames the gut. This causes gut cell junctions to open up and nutrients into shapes and sizes that they shouldn’t exit through,” he explains.
When cortisol stays at high levels for too long and inflames the gut
To make this intestinal inflammation go away, Vergès recommends increasing your consumption of healthy fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids found in small fatty fish like anchovies and mackerel or avocado. These keep cortisol levels stable and can help calm anxiety in a healthy way by discouraging us from eating higher-calorie snacks as a reward or compensation. “The industry lures us with unhealthy products that are easy, quick to eat and tasty. But we have to avoid them because not only do they not relieve us of stress, but they fuel us even more.”
In fact, another of the top causes of inflammation is a poor diet that prioritizes low-quality processed foods, fast food, refined or sugary items, and abuses grains, the expert says. “Varieties like wheat have crossed so extensively that they are very indigestible. Many grains are tasty and high-yielding, but their gluten is difficult to digest and inflames us.” In addition, these products are rich in a type of omega-6 that is also often anti-inflammatory, as are seed oils such as soybean, sunflower or corn.
The basis of a healthy diet must be real food that is produced and grown in the most natural way possible. Especially vegetables of all shades to get the maximum amount of polyphenols, a micronutrient that gives food its color and reduces inflammation, the absorption of carbohydrates and uric acid. “The dishes have to be checkered, pleasing to the eye,” says Marc Vergès, who believes anthocyanins, the polyphenol that gives purple tones, to be one of the most important.
Plant-based products such as fruit and vegetables have another advantage: They provide prebiotic fiber that enchants the intestinal bacteria and allows them to live a healthy and balanced life. “Plantains or green potatoes and boiled potatoes are rich in this fiber with prebiotic effects due to its content of resistant starch, the fuel of the bacteria that inhabit the intestinal mucus and protect our intestines from damage.”
Spices are another interesting ingredient that we can abuse without fear. “It’s very easy to have oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil or bay leaf at home, herbs that not only add flavor but also reduce inflammation. They need to regain the importance they previously had in the kitchen. They are culinary medicines.” As for dairy products, it is better to choose fermented products such as kefir or yogurt, always in their natural and sugar-free version.
In our country we cook a lot with sunflower, a highly flammable oil and unstable in contact with temperature
The author of deflate It also refers to red meat, which is recommended to be limited because some studies have observed that the sialic acid it contains accumulates in the gut and causes inflammation. “Research on this is still a bit green, but ingesting this meat is associated with other ailments, so their presence should be reduced as well.” Instead, eating small animals like birds is healthy for both us and the planet.
However, there is no point in choosing well the products that make up our menu if we choose poorly in culinary techniques. As far as inflammation goes, fried foods are not advisable. And also cook fish, vegetables or meat on the grill until they have that little crust that we like so much. Vergès explains that boiling an ingredient over creates substances called acrylamides, which EFSA classifies as potentially carcinogenic.
Next, choose a good cooking oil. “In our country we cook a lot with sunflower oil, an oil that is highly flammable and unstable in contact with temperature,” says the nutritionist, who recommends always using olive oil. “It may lose some polyphenols during cooking, but it can tolerate very high temperatures and is healthier”. However, we must prioritize the intake of raw olive oil, and if we use it for cooking, add a little. “If the food ready, scandalously add oil, let it drip.”
Eating habits also play a role in overcoming the inflammation that ages us. For example, we must avoid eating quickly and without chewing, because then we will put more food in our mouth than we need and digestion will be difficult, causing bloating and inflammation in the intestines.
We are diurnal animals and the less we pay attention to our biological clock, the worse it gets for us.
Equally important is following a nutritional plan that respects circadian rhythms. “Several studies have shown that eating late at night increases problems with insulin resistance and predisposes us to accumulate more fat in the body,” says the expert. For him, the best time to eat is from 12 to 1 p.m., and dinner should be around 7 p.m.: “We are diurnal animals and the less we pay attention to our biological clock, the worse it gets for us. If we fight it, we will ignite.”
Eating without hunger or drinking without thirst are other habits that end up igniting us. “The feeling of appetite shouldn’t scare us, because it’s good for us. Eating hungry spreads out the food and makes us feel better and makes it harder for us to overeat.”
Overfeeding also leaves no room for digestive rest, that time that helps repair our gut and keep it in optimal condition. “The ideal thing is to let it rest for 12 hours, so fasting from 9:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m., for example, which shouldn’t be a problem for anyone.” Cell regeneration mechanism that can help us age well.
Following these tips and incorporating the foods listed into your weekly meal plan can help prevent inflammation from killing us by years, but what if I skip one of the recommendations and eat a pizza one day? “Nothing happens, but it’s important to accompany this unhealthy food with another more interesting food, like a salad. If we mix them, we get less inflamed.”