The Three Events that Accelerate Aging in Your Body… and How to Reverse their Effect, According to Harvard
The Aging of Our Bodies – How It Happens
Aging is an inevitable part of life’s natural progression, and it affects everything from our physical appearance to our cognitive abilities. Aging occurs due to a wide variety of factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and environmental impacts. Over time, the cumulative effects of these factors lead to changes in our bodies, resulting in the aging process. Although we can’t reverse time, researchers have been studying what causes aging and how we can slow it down.
The Effect of Telomeres on Ageing
One factor researchers at Harvard have identified that impacts aging is the shortening of our telomeres. Telomeres are structures at the end of our chromosomes that protect them from damage during cell division. However, with each division, our telomeres shorten until they become so short that the cells can no longer divide resulting in the death of the cell. The telomere shortening process has been linked to the development of age-related diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Fortunately, we can reverse telomere shortening with lifestyle and environmental changes.
One study looked at the effect of lifestyle interventions such as nutrition, physical activity, stress reduction, and social support on telomere length in a group of men with prostate cancer. At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that group participants who changed their lifestyle habits had longer telomeres than the control group who did not make changes. This study alone provides evidence that changes to lifestyle can have positive impacts on telomere length and can potentially slow the aging process.
The Role of Mitochondria in Aging
Another factor that plays a role in aging is the health of our mitochondria. Mitochondria are organelles within our cells that produce energy. These organelles also experience wear and tear over time, leading to damage that impacts the way our cells function. This degradation of our mitochondria has been linked to the development of many age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer. Fortunately, there are lifestyle changes we can make to help keep our mitochondria working properly and slow down the process of aging.
Research conducted on mice showed that intermittent fasting enhanced mitochondrial function and increased lifespan. The study found that fasting helped boost the mitochondrial function of the mice and that the mice who fasted lived longer than the control group who did not fast. This study illustrates the clear connection between lifestyle habits and the health of our mitochondria.
The Impact of Chronic Inflammation on Aging
Inflammation is a natural response of our immune system to physical injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation occurs when our immune system is on high alert for long periods, without any physical trigger. Chronic inflammation can lead to damage to our cells and tissues, leading to age-related diseases. Moreover, chronic inflammation has been linked to a range of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.
Some studies have indicated that diet can play a significant role in mitigating chronic inflammation. Research conducted on people with ulcerative colitis found that a diet consisting of fewer pollutants and cooked foods reduced the levels of inflammation markers in the participants. It is not just what we eat that influences inflammation, but also how we move our bodies.
One study found that regular exercise can reduce the levels of inflammation markers in our bloodstream. Moderate exercise such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming can even help reduce inflammation levels in people with knee arthritis. Consistent exercise has been shown to improve overall health and wellbeing and helps fight age-related diseases.
The Bottom Line
Aging is a natural progression that we will all experience at some point in our lives. However, the key is to age in a healthy way. Researchers at Harvard have found that we can slow down the aging process by making lifestyle changes centered around mitigating telomere shortening, taking care of our mitochondria, and reducing chronic inflammation. Small changes to our lifestyle habits like exercising regularly, reducing stress, eating a healthy diet, and fasting can all have significant long-term benefits. Aging gracefully and healthily is not impossible, and research continues to show us the way. #HEALTH