Inquire of the oldest individuals in your acquaintance, “What is the key to a long life?” and you should hear some entertaining replies. Would you prefer having some chocolate ice cream each day or a sip of whiskey? A job one loves or plenty of friends? Scientists are intrigued by this question as well and are examining the lifestyles of people who have lived for over one hundred years to discover the secrets to living a longer life.
Few would dispute that the process of getting older is not for the faint of heart: It usually is accompanied by physical fragility and decreased mental acuity. Scientists have been looking into the inner working of our bodies to find ways to not only extend life but also improves the quality of life. The scientists involved are dreaming of a soon-to-be-reality where people will live to be over 90 years old, staying healthy and graceful with no chronic medical issues or age-related impairments like diminishing eyesight or dementia.
Although it might be a while before we have the ability to remain youthful at 100 years old, this expanding area of study is providing us with useful insight into how to decelerate aging and lead satisfying lives in our later years. David A. claims that researchers have reached a stage where they understand that particular genes impact the process of aging. Sinclair, Ph.D., co-director of the Paul F. The Glenn Center for Biology of Aging Research, which is located at Harvard Medical School, wrote a book titled Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have To. We are aware that we can take measures and delay the process – even in humans.
Morgan Levine, an assistant professor of pathology at the Yale School of Medicine and author of the upcoming book True Age: How Cutting-Edge Research Can Help You Turn Back the Clock, affirms that our daily health habits have a major effect on how we age. As we get older, our cells undergo transformations, making them unable to be mended, which subsequently results in medical issues that ultimately are the cause of death. However, you can reduce the speed of these tried-and-true life hacks, which could improve your well-being beyond your lifetime.
Strengthen the Armor That Protects Your Cells
Telomeres can be thought of as similar to the plastic tips found at the ends of shoelaces, as they act like a cap at the end of each strand of DNA. These telomeres have an effect on the speed at which cells and people age. When telomeres are too brief, the cells cease to function effectively and become “zombie-like” (or “senesced”).
In this condition, substances are released that trigger inflammation and peptides that speed up the aging process. This will not bring about a distinct illness. However, it implies that you could be more easily affected by whatever situations you have inherited, genes and surroundings making you more vulnerable to, such as heart disease, dementia, or cancer. Evidence indicates that it is possible to reverse many signs of aging if one can keep cells from becoming lifeless and inactive.
Getting active is a great way to strengthen your cellular protection. Exercise can promote the generation of telomerase, an enzyme that aids in boosting telomeres, explains Nir Barzilai, the founding director of the Institute for Aging Research at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, New York, and the writer of Age Later: Health Span, Life Span, and the New Science of Longevity.
Research conducted at Brigham Young University with a total of 5,800 individuals revealed that those who ran for 25 to 40 minutes all five days of the week possessed telomeres that were the same as those of someone who was nine years younger. In a different minimal research, the telomeres in females categorized as overweight improved after a span of eight weeks engaged in aerobic exercise and resistance training. A look into multiple investigations of athletes above the age of 35 (who had participated in sports for roughly 16 years) revealed that they had even longer telomeres in comparison to nonathletes of the same age.
Meditating to build up your mental fortitude may also help guard your telomeres – scientists believe it may limit harmful inflammation. A 2013 research study at Harvard discovered that individuals who practice loving-kindness meditation, focusing on benevolence towards others, possess longer telomeres compared to those who do not meditate. The research done at the University of California – Davis found that people who practiced meditation for a three-month period had higher telomerase activity than those in a comparison group.
Boost Your Built-In Survival Mechanism
Researchers in the field of longevity have found out that mice living on low-calorie diets tend to live longer than those consuming more of their regular food. Humans can gain similar health benefits through a process known as intermittent fasting (IF). This involves regulating food intake, either by restricting what times of the day you eat or by limiting food intake to certain days of the week, according to Sinclair. He states that Intermittent Fasting (IF) has the potential to improve longevity as it utilizes a process that helped our ancestors endure times when food was in short supply. This hunger leads to higher amounts of a substance called NAD, which sparks genes called sirtuins that are related to longevity, based on Sinclair’s research. Sirtuins work to prevent disease, facilitate the mending of DNA, and reduce the inflammation associated with illnesses such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, asthma, and other chronic illnesses.
It is evident that Intermittent Fasting is not suitable for all individuals; it requires rigorous self-control and is not advisable if it is being used to conceal an eating disorder. Consequently, please consult your physician before deciding on this approach. Dr. Barzilai advises against treating oneself with insulin or certain type of hypoglycemic medications.
He suggests that a lot of people can get used to the regime. It does not appear to make a difference in which variation of IF is practiced. Certain individuals limit their diet to five days in a month, whereas others adopt the 5:2 regimen, which involves eating minimal calories for two days a week. Another practice of restricting eating is called time-restricted eating, which means that the person must adhere to a six to twelve-hour period of consuming food, such as from noon to 6 P.M. or from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. Eating within a small period of time will bid to enhance the anti-aging system, which Sinclair explains causes the body to activate its natural coverings against damage and health issues.
Turn on the Longevity Switch in Your DNA
Your biological age is not necessarily the same as your chronological age; it reflects the general state of health and fitness you’re in compared to other people who have been living the same number of years. It is possible at the age of forty for a person’s biological age to be anywhere from 30 to greater than fifty years old, depending on their genetics, the lifestyles they lead, and their surroundings. No matter how old you biologically are, according to Levine, you can improve it.
A way to counteract the effects of aging is to reduce the consumption of animal protein. The amount of protein that is typically recommended for men to consume is 56 grams per day, while the amount of protein that is typically recommended for women to consume is 46 grams per day. Nevertheless, the average American consumes approximately twice the recommended amount. Research indicates that having a diet high in protein can stimulate an enzyme referred to as mTOR, which hastens the aging process. You should restrict how much meat you eat to 3 or 4 ounces, which is roughly the same size as a pack of cards. Instead, eat more plant-based proteins such as beans and soy.
Slow Down Biological Aging
A number of different pathways have been identified in humans that influence and manage the mechanisms of aging. They keep the epigenome in such a way that reduces processes of aging such as inflammation, oxidative strain, metabolic illnesses, and excessive growth, at the same time additionally increasing processes of fixing, age reversal, and survival.
- The Growth Hormone/Insulin and Insulin-Like Growth Factor-1 Signaling Pathway regulates cell replication, nutrient partitioning, and storage. Reduced insulin signaling has been found to increase the lifespan of fruit flies, nematodes, and rodents. Basically, high insulin and IGF-1 levels accelerate aging by promoting excess growth and the development of malignancies.
- FOXO Transcription Factors, which include proteins and transcription factors responsible for energy homeostasis. In mammals, FOXO proteins regulate stress resistance, cellular turnover, apoptosis, glucose-lipid metabolism, and inflammation. They enhance stress resilience and make the body tougher against environmental stressors in the short term by halting processes of growth.
- Sirtuin Proteins and NAD+ mediate metabolic functions and DNA repair. SIRT6 overexpression has been found to lengthen the lifespan of male mice by as much as 15,8%. SIRT6 deficiencies in mice accelerate their aging. One recent 2021 study showed that restoration of energy homeostasis by SIRT6 extends a healthy lifespan. NAD is critical for converting food into energy, repairing DNA damage, strengthening the immune system, burning fat, and regulating the body’s circadian clock. Declining NAD is linked to age-related metabolic dysfunction and is a key contributor to aging.
- Yamanaka Factors – Reprogramming factors (called Oct3/4, Sox2, Klf4, c-Myc) that regulate cell rejuvenation and reprogramming. They can be used for induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), thus influencing the epigenetic clock. In 2011, Lapasset et al. reversed centenarian cells aged over 100 back to the age of 20. Yamanaka factors essentially prevent epigenetic alterations that happen during aging and tell the epigenome to be young again.
These factors all work to delay aging by giving the body a message that it is not yet time to perish, as the body may be going through some sort of strain. To guarantee that your genetic material gets passed down, the body activates survival mechanisms that help you live a longer life and become better adapted to various types of stress so you can have another opportunity to reproduce in the future. In the long run, too much expression of these genes will still result in aging. It is imperative to counterbalance the longevity pathways with pathways of revival and rejuvenation.
#1 Calorie Restriction/Fasting
A widely accepted method to extend the life of many living organisms is to reduce caloric intake. Providing lower calorie intake to worms, flies, rodents, and primates has been shown to increase their lifespan by up to 20-30%. The biggest causes for this appear to be less destruction from free radicals, the restraining of development paths, and the boosting of antioxidant defense mechanisms in the body. By decreasing the amount of food consumed, it reduces the workload placed on the digestive system, which helps keep mitochondria functioning properly and maintains the body’s store of enzymes.
Research has shown that reducing calorie intake and engaging in intermittent fasting has been proven to promote certain pathways linked to a longer lifespan, such as sirtuins, autophagy, and FOXO proteins[xiii]. In 2019, a survey featured in The New England Journal of Medicine affirmed that several clinical experiments in both humans and animals have exhibited that most of the benefits of intermittent fasting cannot just be attributed to either reduced production of free radicals or weight decrease. Rather than creating more oxidative stress, IF stimulates protective systems, including autophagy and sirtuins, which can mend molecules that have been hurt.
In order to avoid obesity and metabolic syndrome, it would be necessary to follow a moderate diet with regard to calorie consumption. It appears reasonable to believe that with intermittent fasting, one doesn’t have to go to the same length of calorie restriction that is required for longevity.
#2 Circadian Rhythm Alignment
Sinclair suggests that NAD+ is necessary for sirtuins to function properly. NAD is essential for the body to convert food into energy, fix any genetic harm, bolster immunity, get rid of fat, and control the body’s 24-hour cycles. Unfortunately, as you age, the amount of NAD in your body decreases, which can cause the speed of aging and increase the risk of illness.
NAD and sirtuins both have an effect on circadian rhythms, and the amount of them produced changes according to the time of day. The influence of circadian rhythms is regulated by sirtuins, particularly SIRT1, which is responsible for NAD metabolism by means of the NAD recovery pathway. The circadian clock genes CLOCK: BMAL1 control the NAD salvage pathway by overseeing the expression of the enzyme NAMPT (nicotinamide phosphoribosyl transferase), which acts as a bottleneck in the NAD+ salvage route.
Essentially, NAD is a fundamental requirement for most activities in the body, particularly the ones that help to reduce the effects of aging, like mending and tagging DNA. In order to make and recycle NAD inside the body, one has to have SIRT1, which is governed by daily biological fluctuations.
Circadian rhythms refer to the regular variations in physiological processes that happen in response to the daily day/night cycle in the environment. People are meant to stay up during the daytime and go to sleep during the night since we are diurnal beings. An imbalance in the body’s internal clock is associated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and depression. Circadian rhythms that are off-balance disrupt DNA methylation patterns, resulting in further aging. Try to keep your sleep and wake times as close to the rising and setting of the sun as possible.
#3 Antioxidant Defenses
Simply being alive results in the body sustaining physical damage and aging. You are constantly trying to beat the effects of entropy and you can never get ahead of the passing of time. The best way to reduce the impacts of stress is to increase your body’s ability to withstand stress and enhance its antioxidant defenses.
Consuming foods that are rich in antioxidants can be beneficial in combating inflammation and oxidative stress. Despite the presence of large amounts of antioxidants, these elements don’t always prove to be useful, and their effects are limited in terms of repair. Studies have revealed that taking high levels of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, vitamin A, and vitamin E can raise the chance of death. Raising the body’s own internal antioxidant amounts may be a preferable method of avoiding sickness.
Strategies to boost the body’s own antioxidant protection mechanisms coincide with the pathways that promote longevity since they manage the same survival system that was referred to by Dr. Sinclair. These activities involve not eating for periods of time, occasionally reducing caloric intake, physical activity, being exposed to cold temperatures, and being exposed to heat. They are all supporting substances such as sirtuins, FOXO proteins, autophagy, and Yamanaka factors that encourage the body to lessen the aging process that occurs due to epigenetic factors and make it more capable of dealing with environmental stress.