As we age, our bodies change significantly. Some of the effects of aging are quite apparent. For many, the skin loses its elasticity, the hair begins to turn gray, and mobility becomes much more challenging. It comes as no surprise that many people are looking for ways to slow and reverse the process of getting older.
But what does new research say about slowing the aging process? Is it possible? And to what degree does slowing the aging process affect the typical quality of life? In this article, we’ll look at what scientists have discovered so far in hopes of shining some light on the inevitable process of getting older.
Slowing the Aging Process
Over the past few years, there have been more than a few studies on slowing down and even reversing the aging process. With age often comes disease and scientists are eager to cut down on the painful and expensive plights of old age. Recently a few different methods have shown promising success regarding the pace of aging.
Why We Age
To understand how researchers suggest we can slow the process of aging, one must first understand why we age, to begin with. Over the last thirty years or so, technological advances have allowed scientists to take a closer look at why we age.
In general, scientists now know that aging is controlled by genetic factors and biological process that occur naturally in the human body. More specifically, aging occurs because of the following reasons:
- Telomere Shortening
- Genome Damage
- Mitochondrial Dysfunction
- Non-Genetic Factors
- Unfolded Protein Build-Up
- Stem Cell Exhaustion
- Cellular Deterioration
Slowing Down the Aging Process
But what does new research say about slowing the aging process? A continuously growing body of research has revealed that a few different techniques can be used to slow down or reverse the process of getting older. These techniques include but are not necessarily limited to the following:
- Intermittent Fasting
- Stress Management
- Regular Exercise
- Positive Mental Attitude
- Eating Healthy
What Does the Research Say?
Delving further into what scientists have to say about slowing the aging process, below we will discuss each of the age-slowing methods mentioned above. To keep things well-organized, we’ll start off with the most recent research and go from there.
Multiple recent studies have been conducted to establish any potential connection between regular exercise and longevity. In 2018, researchers confirmed that regular activity continued through the entire lifespan can decrease the chance of muscle decline in old age. Compared to their sedentary counterparts, active seniors were shown to have less age-related muscle deterioration.
Besides, regular exercise has been shown to promote the body’s immune system. A typical side effect of aging is reduced thymus size and an inability to stave off disease. Researchers found that regular cycling can cause the immune system to behave in a more “youthful” manner regarding white blood cell activity.
As a final note on regular exercise, researchers in 2017 found that vigorous activity can both promote mitochondrial capacity and increased telomere length. These two factors are essential when considering the process of aging, and both indicate that regular exercise is an excellent way to decrease the speed of getting older.
Intermittent fasting has become somewhat trendy in the diet world lately, and for a good reason. In addition to stunning weight-loss related results, a study published in late 2017 suggests that the same technique could be a critical component to extending lifespan and slowing the aging process.
This study, published by Harvard researchers in October 2017 provides useful insight into the way that cells process energy over time. Researchers in this study used nematode worms to investigate the state of mitochondrial networks across the lifespan of the organisms.
Researchers used two techniques to mimic the process of intermittent fasting in their test subjects. The first involved merely restricting diet, while the second method used manipulation of a specific “energy-sensing” protein (AMPK). Both processes showed that intermittent diet restriction has a significant impact on mitochondrial networks.
In both types of dietary restriction, researchers noted that mitochondrial networks maintained a certain “youthfulness” in that they retained their fused state. This fused state promoted communications between the mitochondria and other organelles that modulate fat metabolism.
While this is indeed not the first study to show that intermittent fasting can accommodate graceful aging, it is a pivotal step in understanding why this technique can reduce the pace of getting older.
Stress has long been known to contribute to certain diseases such as increased blood pressure and depression. Recent research has revealed even more evidence that chronic stress is unhealthy. In particular, researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have discovered a link in constant pressure and decreased levels of klotho.
Klotho has been recognized as a link in the mysteries of aging for quite some time. Previous studies have indicated that increased levels of klotho subsequently increase lifespan in different types of animals. However, this study from 2015 is the first to present a potential link between chronic stress and significantly decreased levels of klotho.
Dipping in a little further, it becomes apparent that proper stress management is crucial to increasing overall lifespan. By mitigating stress, it is possible that klotho levels will rise and subsequently lead to a slower aging process and a longer life.
It’s always a good idea to maintain a positive mindset, but as it turns out this concept is even more crucial when considering the process of aging. This study, published in 2016, shows a critical connection between how we think about aging compared to how we age.
Researchers showed that keeping a positive mindset about aging compared favorably against mindsets that embraced the difficulties of old age. In other words, people who believed that aging would bring with it poor memory and high blood pressure would develop these ailments more readily than those who did not believe in the inevitability of a shortened old age.
This study speaks volumes to the power of a positive mindset and the ability to slow the aging process by reducing stress. Because the mind is our most powerful tool for reducing our stress, and subsequently increasing telomere longevity, it is entirely crucial to engage in activities that will promote healthy cognitive function.
In this 2013 study of yogic meditation, researchers identified a definite link between brief daily meditation practice and an increase of telomerase activity. Also, those participating in a regular meditation practice saw a significant decrease in depressive symptoms and an increase in cognitive function.
The combined cognitive benefits and increased telomerase activity suggest that including a regular meditation practice can have incredible benefits on lifespan. As mentioned above, high-stress levels can contribute to premature aging in numerous ways. By increasing telomerase activity with meditation, cellular aging is slowed down.
By improving the daily lives of those who practice regular meditation, it can be presumed that reflection will positively contribute to the slowing of the aging process. Decreased depressive symptoms eliminate unnecessary stress and subsequently promote healthy and slow going aging.
It may come as no surprise that in addition to reducing stress and exercising regularly, eating healthy can promote a decrease in the pace of aging. Studies as recent as 2015 have continued to support healthy diet as a critical component to a long and healthy life.
Most recently, researchers have turned their focus to specific bioactive compounds that can slow down the aging of cells in the body. These compounds are typically found in fruits and vegetables and certain other foods like cacao and tea.
In previous research, scientists noted the benefits of consuming bioactive compounds for compromised populations. Recently it has been discovered that the same benefits are available to healthy adults as well. If you fuel your body with nutrient-dense foods, your cells will function well and resist the typical strains of old age.
So, what does new research say about slowing the aging process? Further research concerning the aging process mirrors what scientists have known for years. A healthy lifestyle is crucial for a long life.
While today’s studies are increasingly sophisticated in design, researchers are merely opening doors to understanding why health and longevity are so closely intertwined. In addition to the methods of promoting cellular survival mentioned above, it is important to note that genetics and social factors also impact how long we live.
In areas of the world that have the most substantial numbers of nonagenarians and centenarians, communities are thriving. These cultures enjoy all of the benefits listed above as a community and as such residents tend to live longer.
As technology continues to develop, we will undoubtedly discover more in-depth explanations regarding the process of aging. Accordingly, it is likely that we will reveal new methods to extend the lifespan of cells and further slow the aging process.