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Inflammaging Could Be the Cause of Your Fatigue — How One Woman Finally Found Relief

"I now have the energy and stamina to keep up with people who are much younger than I am!” — Jane Wooten

It’s a common complaint in women over 40: We’re tired and drained, and it seems like no amount of sleep helps. As it turns out, getting more zzz’s isn’t the solution. That’s because research the real cause is something dubbed “inflammaging” — chronic inflammation that occurs with aging. The good news? While sleep might not be the fix, there is a diet change that can help. It worked for Jane Wooten. The 68-year-old fought fatigue, pain, GI issues and more until she discovered the solution that restored her health. Read on for her story and to learn more about inflammaging and fatigue. 

The connection between inflammaging and fatigue

More than 90% of women over 40 suffer from inflammaging, says Mark Hyman, MD, author of The Young Forever Cookbook. He notes that acute inflammation “exists for a reason: to enable the body to protect itself against everything from injury to infection.” But constant exposure to processed food, toxins and stress leads to low-grade chronic inflammation that triggers fatigue, brain fog and anxiety. It also raises the risk of age-related diseases like diabetes and heart disease, says Dr. Hyman.

Related: What Is ‘Inflammaging’ And How Can You Manage It? 4 Science-Backed Tips

How doctors check for inflammaging

Blood tests that check C-reactive protein (CRP) and white blood cell counts can measure inflammation. And functional medicine experts often add testing for drivers of inflammation, such as autoimmune issues and food sensitivities. If tests reveal excess inflammation, addressing the problem can lift energy. 

The fix for inflammaging and fatigue

Avoiding inflammation-­fueling foods is key to feeling better. “But it’s not enough just to remove triggers like starches and sugars, ultra-­processed foods, refined oils and excess calories,” Dr. Hyman says. “We also want to increase our intake of foods that reduce and fight inflammation.” He advises eating anti-inflammatory fare like Brussels sprouts, kale, berries, green tea, turmeric, olive oil and oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring.

Related: How To Treat Inflammaging and Skin: The Sneaky Culprit That Can Make You Look Older

Bonus remedy: Laughter

Diet changes are key to fighting inflammaging and fatigue, but laughter can help too! Chuckling at your favorite sitcom sends inflammation plunging in 20 minutes, according to a study from Loma Linda University. The researchers also found that viewing comedies for 20 to 30 minutes daily decreased levels of C-reactive protein (a marker of inflammation) by 66% within one year. What’s more, research from Japan determined that study subjects experienced significant reductions in IL-6 (interleukin 6, an inflammatory protein produced by the immune system) after listening to a funny story. Experts explain that humor and laughter combat the chronic stress that causes inflammation to climb.

Related: Top Menopause Expert: These Shortcuts End Inflammaging and Make Weight Loss Easier After Age 50

Inflammaging and fatigue success story: Jane Wooten,68

Jane Wooten hiking Diamond Head in Hawaii.
Jane Wooten hiking Diamond Head in Hawaii.Jane Wooten

“Oh no, not something else to deal with,” sighed Jane Wooten when her doctor told her she had sleep apnea and needed to wear a CPAP machine to help her sleep. “It was one health problem after another,” she recalls. “They all left me with no energy, feeling like I had to push through things. I remember thinking, I feel so overwhelmed. What’s next?

Sick and tired all the time

“As a teen, I was diagnosed with psoriasis, and as I got older, it got worse. Over the years, I suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, a racing heart and high blood pressure. Then the psoriasis developed into psoriatic arthritis and I had a lot of aches and pains. One day, it was my knee, the next day, my back. The next, my hands would be stiff. And the 35 extra pounds I was carrying didn’t help matters. More days than not, I was exhausted before I even got out of bed.

“I started using the CPAP soon after that doctor visit, but it didn’t help. I could not sleep with that thing. It was horrible and left me feeling even worse.

“About six months later, my husband had a routine procedure that led to sepsis, and he almost died. As he was recovering in the ICU, I looked at him and got really scared. Fortunately, I had not yet had a heart attack, I did not have cancer and I wasn’t yet deformed by the arthritis, but I felt like all that was in my future. I don’t want to end up in the ICU. I want to be healthy, I remember thinking. 

“By chance, Joel Fuhrman, MD, was on the TV in the hospital’s visiting room, talking about his program of healthy eating. I was inspired, and I immediately got his book, Eat to Live, where I read that I could clear up my health issues with the diet.

A life-changing solution

Jane Wooten after losing 20 pounds from Dr. Fuhrman’s anti-flammatory diet.
Jane after losing 20 pounds from Dr. Fuhrman’s anti-flammatory diet.Jane Wooten

“Dr. Fuhrman’s plan encouraged me to eat a primarily plant-based diet heavy on vegetables, quinoa, beans, fruits, mushrooms and nuts. I was so ready for it. And believe me, this was huge. I’m from the South, and my diet at the time was a lot of fried chicken, steak, gravy and biscuits. If a vegetable wasn’t corn, I didn’t want it. But I followed his advice and ate dark greens at every meal. Instead of the 12 oz. of meat I had been eating every day, I had 4 oz. of bison or fish twice a week.

“When I started the diet, I had no idea what was going to happen. But within three months I’d lost 20 pounds, and soon my other health issues healed. I was amazed at how good I felt. I didn’t wake up tired, and my pain was completely gone. One day in the shower I noticed my psoriasis had gone away. I no longer needed the CPAP machine or the beta blockers I’d been taking for my rapid heart rate, which was back to normal.

More health benefits

“Several years earlier, my doctor had discovered that I had very high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a protein made by the liver. She explained that CRP increases when there’s inflammation in the body. When I asked her what I could do about it, she said, ‘There is no medication for that.’ She never mentioned that I could lower my CRP with diet, but after 18 months on Dr. Fuhrman’s plan, my level dropped from 16 to .02. (Anything over a 10 indicates you may have an infection or an inflammatory condition.)

“My CRP stayed that low for many years. Then I got COVID and it rose before dropping to its current level of 4. 

Jane kayaking.
Jane kayaking.Jane Wooten

“Today, I continue to feel great. I have no health issues, I’m down 35 pounds and I regained the zest I’d lost years ago. My husband and I love to travel, and I can walk 10 miles a day and keep ahead of our tour group, pain-free. I now have the energy and stamina to keep up with people who are much younger than I am!”

For more inspiring real-life health stories, click through:

“Cold Plunging Helped Me Finally Feel Joy Again!” — Experts Reveal Why It Works + How to Benefit

Can Sound Baths for Anxiety Ease Your Stress? What You Need to Know

How Vitamin D for Thyroid Helped One Woman Beat Fatigue: “I Feel Like I’ve Aged Backward!”

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