All the health conscious seek insights that will lead to a long life... ... so if you want to know what is going to kill you, I can tell you. Perhaps not literally—all rules have exceptions, but if you are in reasonable health and live in the Western world, you are unlikely to die of infection. Malnutrition, almost certainly not. A car crash is possible, but unlikely.
If you fulfill the destiny of most affluent humans in this epoch, you will die of your immune system. You may be lucky enough to enjoy good health until the very end of your days, but the odds are against it. As you get older, the chances go up that something big, like a stroke or cancer, will drag down your quality of life. Well known healthy options, like eating coloured plants, and exercising, suppress big diseases. In large part they work by keeping the immune system in balance. A further option in the longevity, anti-inflammatory tool kit, and a major theme of this book, is the developing science of ‘functional food’.
Functional foods, also known as nutraceuticals (and bioactives, and super foods) are foods, and edible novelties, like leaves and seeds, that are almost drug-like in their capacity to suppress inflammation. Seeking them out is indispensable for a maximum longevity strategy. If you’re already leading a healthy lifestyle, there’s still more you can you do to fight sickness and disease.
This is the story of inflammation and health—what goes wrong as we age, and what you can do about it.—Dr R Mulgan