Ageing is a natural part of life which none of us can escape. However, how well we age can be somewhat controlled through healthy lifestyle choices - such as eating well and exercising. Many studies are showing that your daily habits could have a larger impact on your biological age than your genes do.
There are three main ways human cells can be measured for biological age. These include epigenetics, methylation and glycans. Each has its way of calculating our biological age, with glycans being our favourite as we use this method in our GlycanAge tests.
Glycans are sugar molecules that attach themselves to immunoglobulin (IgG) molecules. It has been found that the number of glycans attached to IgG changes as you age and directly affects inflammation and the immune system. By testing the number of IgG in your body, we can determine your biological age.
Some of the most effective ways to turn back your biological age include keeping a watchful eye on calorie intake, eating a plant-based diet, getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night, exercising regularly, eating antioxidants, lowering stress levels, staying sociable and having a positive attitude.
Ageing is a universal process where your physical fitness reduces over time. In addition to the visible signs like wrinkles and fine lines, getting older also increases the risk of age-related diseases – including neurodegeneration, heart disease and cancer. The positive news is we can significantly delay and prevent many of these diseases by following a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle.
Looking after our bodies and mind can help make our senior and near-end-of-life years much more enjoyable. This article looks at the science behind age reversal, whether it is actually possible to make your body younger than it is, and what you can do to help reverse signs of ageing.
The Science Behind Age Reversal
First off, let us make it clear – there is no way you can chronologically age backwards (unless you have some magic time machine). However, scientists are researching how our cells age and the variety of changes they go through that lead to their functional decline. There are three main ways cells can be measured for age, and our biological age clock is determined. These include the following:
Epigenetics – Your genes are the parts of your DNA which determine how your body operates. This includes how you look, feel, and even certain health conditions you are likely to develop or experience. Although your DNA is predetermined by which genes you inherit from your parents, researchers have found that how they are expressed or regulated is often open to modification.
Epigenetics are factors that affect which genes you express – basically turning your genes on or off. Even the genes you inherit from one of your parents may not be expressed due to lifestyle choices you make. For example, you could inherit the susceptibility to develop diabetes from one of your parents (your genetics) – but depending on your lifestyle choices, you could develop the epigenetics to hold that gene off and ultimately never develop diabetes.
Methylation – DNA methylation is one of the main epigenetic modifications that happen as we age. This process involves functional groups (known as methyl groups) being added to your DNA over time. The number of DNA methylation that is present on your DNA is directly correlated with how old your cells behave. So, the more methyl groups present on your DNA, the more aged your cells will behave. This makes measuring DNA methylation a decent way to measure biological age.
Glycans – We have saved what we think is the best for last when it comes to biological age markers – glycans. The glycan biomarkers are sugar molecules that attach themselves to immunoglobulin (IgG) molecules. The number of glycans attached to IgG changes massively with age and directly affects inflammation and the immune system. This allows us to use glycans to measure your biological age. Through testing the amount of IgG in the body, scientists can determine your biological age, predict potential ageing conditions and help you put in place a plan to improve your wellbeing.
How can you reverse your biological age?
The first move to reversing your biological age is to reach out to GlycanAge so we can conduct some scientific calculations using various biomarkers. If your biological age comes back higher than your chronological one (the number of years you have been alive), then you will likely need to make some lifestyle changes.
As lifestyle can directly impact how your genes are expressed, your daily habits can impact your biological age more than your genes do. Here are a few steps you can follow to improve your biological age and start feeling and looking younger:
Exercise regularly – A great way to prevent telomere degradation and increase the ability of cell mitochondria is to produce energy – meaning you need to do exercise. Some research has found that High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is particularly beneficial, as the Mayo Clinic reported in their 2017 paper. They monitored individuals aged 18 to 30 and 65 to 80 and found that after three months of HIIT, the mitochondrial energy output was increased by 49% in the younger group and 69% in the older group. If HIIT is not your thing, any form of exercise will boost blood flow, which in turn improves your cardiovascular system and nutrition processes.
Get adequate sleep – One of the fastest ways to speed up biological ageing is sleep deprivation. Although people may need more or less sleep than others, it is generally agreed that we need between seven and nine hours. Getting adequate rest can help slow the onset of physical ageing, reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve mental health. You could follow the mantra of leading sleep expert Matthew Walker regarding the correlation between sleep and longevity – “The shorter your sleep, the shorter your lifespan.”
Monitor your calories – One of the most widely proven ways to reduce your biological age is to monitor your calories to ensure you follow a healthy diet. A prominent study from The Lancet evaluated the results over two years of calorie restriction in a group of non-obese women and men. The study discovered that calorie restriction improved all age-related risk factors associated with cardiovascular diseases. Similar studies have also been performed on animals, indicating that calorie restriction is a reliable way to extend longevity. This is primarily due to overconsumption of food (mainly processed foods), which can lead to obesity, inflammation and high blood pressure – all linked to age-related and chronic diseases.
Eat a plant-based diet – We all know that fruit and vegetables are good for us, but a plant-based diet can also help improve heart health and boost the immune system. Researchers at the University of California (San Francisco) found that following a plant-based diet for three months positively impacted the degradation of telomeres. Telomeres are another aspect of your DNA that closely correlates with biological age and are located at the ends of your DNA strands. The length of telomeres gets shorter as we age, making them an excellent biomarker when looking at our body’s age.
Eat antioxidants – A number of studies look into the role of antioxidants and healthy ageing. Antioxidants help protect the body from external factors that can cause premature ageing – such as free radicals and oxidative stress. Consuming foods high in antioxidants can help reduce oxidative stress on cells and prevent cellular destruction. Include lots of leafy greens and vibrant fruits in your diet as these tend to be rich in antioxidants and can slow down biological ageing.
Reduce stress levels – It is no surprise that the stress of daily life can make us look tired and aged beyond our years. Middle-aged and older women who suffer from chronic anxiety have been found to have shorter telomeres – indicating stress can cause physical damage to the body at a cellular level and speed up biological ageing. Try to manage stress levels through tools like meditation, partaking in healthy leisure activities and avoiding known stress triggers.
Stay sociable – Loneliness is something that can affect people at any age, but it is particularly prominent for the older population as many become less mobile or suffer from some form of social anxiety. In 2018, a study of 113 men and women discovered that loneliness could shorten telomere length, leading to an increased sign of ageing. Having a supportive social circle is an essential factor in reducing biological age. Try to engage with your community and foster a supportive social environment to help slow down the biological signs of ageing.
Have a positive attitude – You may naturally be a pessimist, but having a negative mindset can add unnecessary stress and even adversely affect your mental health. During a 2019 study by Rockefeller University in New York, they found that both men and women who practised an optimistic outlook were between 11% to 15% more likely to live a longer lifespan. A positive mindset could be just the ticket if you want to reverse ageing.
You can do plenty to help reverse the signs of ageing and help turn back the clock when biological age is concerned. Many factors contributing to how old we look and feel can be managed through thoughtful health-conscious decisions and actions. If you are not sure how well you are ageing, take a GlycanAge test and take control of your biological age.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is it possible to reverse ageing?
Ageing is a normal part of life which none of us can escape. No matter how many fancy creams you apply or exercise classes you take, it is impossible to reverse your chronological age. However, it may be viable to slow the ageing process and prevent age-related diseases by following a healthy lifestyle.
How can you reverse ageing naturally?
There are lots of ways you can reverse the signs of ageing naturally. For example, eat a healthy balanced diet, get plenty of sleep and follow a regular exercise routine. A few lesser-known ways are to maintain an active social life, have a positive outlook and manage stress levels.
Does exercise slow ageing?
Just because your body is starting to feel the strains of age does not mean we should stop physical exercise. On the contrary, many studies show that we need to stay active to help keep ageing under control. Resistance training is one of the top ways to help slow down muscle mass and strength decline.
Can more sleep reverse ageing?
Good quality sleep is vital for fighting premature signs of ageing – it is not called beauty sleep for nothing. While sleeping, the skin’s blood flow increases, along with collagen production, to help repair damage caused by UV exposure and reduces age spots, fine lines and wrinkles.
How can I reverse ageing on my face?
For young looking young, staying hydrated, eating healthily, and exercising are all a must. A decent skincare routine will also not go amiss. Stay away from sun exposure, alcohol and cigarettes, as these will lead to you looking older beyond your years.
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