Ageing of the global population has become a public health concern with an important socio-economic dimension. Ageing is characterized by an increase in the concentration of inflammatory markers in the bloodstream, a phenomenon that has been termed "inflammageing". The inflammatory response is beneficial as an acute, transient reaction to harmful conditions, facilitating the defense, repair, turnover and adaptation of many tissues. However, chronic and low grade inflammation is likely to be detrimental for many tissues and for normal functions. We provide an overview of low grade inflammation (LGI) and determine the potential drivers and the effects of the "inflamed" phenotype observed in the elderly. We discuss the role of gut microbiota and immune system crosstalk and the gut-brain axis. Then, we focus on major health complications associated with LGI in the elderly, including mental health and wellbeing, metabolic abnormalities and infections. Finally, we discuss the possibility of manipulating LGI in the elderly by nutritional interventions. We provide an overview of the evidence that exists in the elderly for omega-3 fatty acid, probiotic, prebiotic, antioxidant and polyphenol interventions as a means to influence LGI. We conclude that slowing, controlling or reversing LGI is likely to be an important way to prevent, or reduce the severity of, age-related functional decline and the onset of conditions affecting health and well-being; that there is evidence to support specific dietary interventions as a strategy to control LGI; and that a continued research focus on this field is warranted.

PMID: 28899766

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