Post on: January 16, 2019.
Posted in: Read.
How to slow down the aging process
Oh, how those sneaky gray hairs keep popping up around your temples with the gusto of spring flowers sprouting from the defrosting earth. Ugh, the joys of aging! Wouldn’t it be nice if you could reverse aging? It is possible to slow down the aging process, and according to research it may also be possible to reverse aging. From expanding waistlines to sore joints, mental fogginess and deepening wrinkles, everyone experiences symptoms of aging.
Aging does not have to be seen as a bad thing. But, is it possible for us to age better? To find out, we first need to know what causes aging.
What causes aging?
Luckily, anti-aging is sort of the research ‘du jour’. Curiosity about how the body ages have been so great that it has propelled researchers and today we better understand how the body ages. According to scientists, aging is seen as a consequence of our overuse and stimulation of the cells in our body. Yet, researchers have uncovered that the foods we eat and the lifestyles we lead also influence aging.
Eating certain foods and some lifestyle factors actually speed up aging. Some foods and lifestyles can slow aging. Better yet, some may even reverse aging! Yippee!!![My apologies, some of the following will get a little technical. Sadly, complexity is the nature of biology – we aren’t simple creatures. However, I will try to keep the scientific mumbo-jumbo to a minimum.]
How do I stop aging so fast?
Inside your cells is DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA is sort of like a blueprint. It contains all of the details on how to build your body. Protecting your DNA is very important. If the DNA inside one of your cells becomes damaged, it cannot properly tell what to build, leading to mistakes. This can lead to some serious problems.
To protect your DNA there are protective tails put on the ends of long strands of DNA. These tails are called telomeres. You can sort of think of telomeres like the plastic bits at the end of your shoelaces, if the shoelace was your DNA. Over time, the shoelace plastic ends wear and fray.
Grab your microscope – just kidding! But, if you could grab a microscope and look at your telomeres it would tell you how ‘old’ or ‘healthy’ you are. The length of your telomeres is an indication (or marker) of your biological age. Telomeres can be damaged by inflammation and free radicals. This can cause a telomere to shorten (or fray if you’re still working with the shoelace analogy). Short telomeres in white blood cells (those are your immune cells) is linked to aging and age-related diseases (cancer, stroke, dementia, cardiovascular disease, obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes). Studies have also linked short telomeres with shortened survival of coronary heart disease, infectious disease and the development of many types of cancer.
How Do I Make My Telomeres Longer?
A scientist, Elizabeth H. Blackburn wrote in the October 2012 issue of Nature, “…links [exist] between shortened telomeres, chronic stress and disease.” Stress may shorten telomere length. Stress is linked to many negative effects on our body. Thus, it comes as no surprise that stress is also linked with faster and earlier aging. Reducing stress may help slow aging. Take a deep breath – it is a scientifically proven way to reduce stress in your body. Move a bit – whether you love to bust-a-move or trek down a trail being active can help reduce stress. Drink a bit of water – staying hydrated reduces stress on your body.
3 Quick Ways to Reduce Stress Anywhere, Anytime:
- Breathe deeply.
- Move your body.
- Drink some water.
Can you reverse aging?
Yes, you may be able too. At least, in terms of lengthening your telomeres. According to a study done by researchers at the University of California in San Francisco, living a healthy holistic lifestyle appears to increase telomere length, which may promote longevity.
A group of researchers have been looking at ways to make telomeres longer in a small pilot study called the GEMINAL study. The researchers investigated whether telomere length was affected when men with low-risk prostate cancer changed their lifestyle (a population is shortened telomeres due to disease). For 3 months, 35 male subjects were either placed into two groups. Group one was a control group. The second group had a modified lifestyle that included a diet that focused on whole foods and plant-based proteins (nuts, beans, seeds, legumes), exercise (30 minutes per day) and reduced stress (60 minutes of stress management and social support).
After 5 years of follow-up, the researchers found the modified lifestyle group had longer telomeres than the control group. Ah-ha! The way we live can affect the length of our telomeres. Despite that this study was small, the results are promising. It suggests that using lifestyle and diet strategies that have long been deemed as ‘healthy’ may help us age better.
How to reverse aging using a healthy lifestyle?
Details of the GEMINAL Study’s Modified Lifestyle:
- Plant-based diet: Focus on whole foods, plant-based protein (nuts, seeds, beans, legumes), fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains.
- Moderate aerobic exercise: walking 30 minutes per day for 6 days of the week.
- Stress Management:gentle yoga based stretching, breathing, meditation, imagery and progressive relaxation for 60 minutes daily.
- Increased Social Support:60 minute support group sessions once per week.
For more on aging and evidence-based food and lifestyle tips to living your best as you age, check out my book, Aging Bites, available as an ebook or in soft-covered delivered right to your door.