We’d all love to turn back the clock. But although there’s a wealth of scientific evidence about what we can do to age well—namely, to reduce the risk of age-related diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and dementia—the study of how to reverse the actual aging process is still in its infancy.
But a recent peer-reviewed study, published recently in the journal Aging, suggests some intriguing possibilities. In a clinical trial, researchers found it was possible to reduce biological age by three years in eight weeks, by making certain diet and lifestyle changes. Read on to find out what they were—Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
The randomized controlled clinical trial involved 43 healthy adult men between the ages of 50 and 72. Researchers divided them into two groups: The test group underwent an eight-week program that included diet, sleep, exercise, and relaxation guidance, and a regimen of probiotic and phytonutrient supplements, while the control group did nothing differently.
At the end of the eight weeks, the researchers collected DNA samples of all the participants via saliva testing. For each, they analyzed the extent of DNA methylation, the damage and functional decline experienced by our cells, tissues and organs. DNA methylation is a major driver of age-related illness, and a key way that scientists identify and track biological aging.
Using the online Horvath DNAmAge clock, the scientists found that the group that underwent the diet and lifestyle treatment decreased their biological age by 3.23 years compared to the control group.
Here’s the regimen the treatment group followed.
The test group consumed a largely plant-based diet, including foods that were high in nutrients such as folate, betaine, vitamin C, vitamin A, curcumin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), quercetin and luteolin. Nutrient-dense animal proteins (such as liver and egg) were allowed.
“The diet restricted carbohydrates and included mild intermittent fasting, both designed to lower glycemic cycling,” also known as blood sugar spikes and crashes, the researchers wrote. Every day, the test group consumed a fruit and vegetable powder and a probiotic that provided 40 million CFU of Lactobacillus plantarum 299v.
The test group exercised for at least 30 minutes every day, at least five days a week, at an intensity of 60 to 80 percent of their maximum perceived exertion. “Exercise is well-known to be broadly beneficial for almost every aspect of health and has been shown to extend mean lifespan in animal models,” the researchers wrote.
“Twice-daily breathing exercises that elicit the Relaxation Response were prescribed for stress reduction,” the researchers wrote. “It was recently demonstrated that 60 days of relaxation practice designed to elicit the Relaxation Response, 20 minutes twice per day, could significantly reduce DNAmAge.” According to the American Psychological Association, the Relaxation Response is “a physical state of deep rest that changes a person’s physical and emotional responses to stress”—the opposite of the fight-or-flight reflex—which can be induced by exercises like deep breathing and meditation.
Quality sleep was prioritized in the study. Researchers recommended that the test group get at least seven hours of sleep every night. Experts consider seven to nine hours a healthy amount of sleep, and several studies have connected low amounts of sleep, poor sleep quality, and sleep disorders such as sleep apnea to increased risk of weight gain, cancer, cardiovascular disease and dementia.
“Compared to participants in the control group, participants in the treatment group scored an average 3.23 years younger at the end of the eight-week program according to the Horvath DNAmAge clock,” the scientists wrote.
“What is extremely exciting is that food and lifestyle practices, including specific nutrients and food compounds known to selectively alter DNA methylation, are able to have such an impact on those DNA methylation patterns we know predict aging and age-related disease,” said the study’s lead author, Kara Fitzgerald, ND, IFMCP, who noted that the researchers intended to pursue studies involving larger groups of people. “I believe that this, together with new possibilities for us all to measure and track our DNA methylation age, will provide significant new opportunities for both scientists and consumers.” And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.