Anti-Aging Revolution: Why We Age—Or Don’tSep 07, 2021 05:00PM ● By KLAUDIA BALOGH
The concept of aging and whether it’s inevitable is changing. When you’re born, you have your entire life ahead of you with so much unknown, except one thing: Your clock will one day stop ticking. Since the beginning of humanity, however, there has been a quest to slow down or even reverse that clock. But is it possible?
Countless remedies, procedures and drugs have been created with the promise to make you look, feel and be younger. But do they work? How can it be that people at age 60 might look and feel like they are 30?
In his 2019 book, Lifespan: Why We Age—and Why We Don’t Have To, Dr. David Sinclair, renowned expert on aging and professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, makes an important distinction between extending life and prolonging vitality. He calls aging a “disease,” and if this is actually the case, perhaps aging can not only be cured, but also prevented.
Before your mind starts to wonder if there’s ever going to be a pill that will make you immortal, no, that’s not exactly how it works. Aging, however, does not have to equal pain, memory loss and disease.
What Is Aging?
Aging is a complicated biological process that’s influenced by a myriad of genetic and epigenetic (environmental) factors. Recent research has established nine hallmarks of aging, from DNA damage and mitochondrial dysfunction to the accumulation of zombielike cells (called senescent cells), loss of stem cells and more.
The older you get and the unhealthier decisions you make, the more of those nine hallmarks can occur, leading to faster aging and deterioration. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), six in 10 older adults have at least one chronic health condition such as heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease or diabetes, and four out of 10 have at least two or more of these conditions. They can all be prevented with the right lifestyle choices—and if these chronic problems are out of the picture, then aging becomes more about staying healthier longer as opposed to being on medication in the last years of your life.
Lifespan vs. Healthspan
Dr. Neil Paulvin, an innovative physician in the study of functional medicine, told TOTI Media that two years ago healthspan was an unknown term to most. “People now have a different mindset around aging,” Dr. Paulvin says. “A lot more people as early as in their mid-30s are taking a proactive approach to slow down aging.”
In simple terms, lifespan is about the length of life, while healthspan is the length of health. Living a long bedridden life is no one’s dream, but the idea of living a long, healthy and happy one, as is the case in many of the world’s longest-living cultures, is gaining momentum.
Some of the advanced modalities Dr. Paulvin mentions are hyperbaric oxygen chamber therapies, exosomes, peptides, stem cells and red light therapy, all of which have been found to provide a host of benefits. Additionally, various research-driven supplements such as NAD, spermidine and curcumin help lower inflammation and optimize metabolic health and cellular function.
Measure What Matters
Regardless of how long you live, staying healthy will play an important role in your quality of life. The first step in slowing down aging is not just buying all the supplements and doing all the therapies. It must begin with understanding your baseline health status. Dr. Paulvin suggests testing your gut health, DNA methylation, genetics, micronutrients, heavy metals and body mass composition, as well as various inflammatory markers in the heart. Then, with the help of a professional, begin to incorporate modalities based on your bio-individual physiology, so you can get the best results for you.
Chronological vs Biological Age
Most anti-aging treatments of the past have focused on cosmetic procedures; however, a younger-looking face doesn’t mean it belongs to a young body. In fact, your epigenetic clock will tell a lot more about your age than your wrinkles ever will.
If you were born in 1971, by 2021, your chronological age is 50, but your biological age may be more or less, depending on your health. Until recently, measuring biological age objectively was a challenge. The length of telomeres, the caps at the end of each chromosome, used to be the go-to metric.
A more accurate prediction of biological age was put forth in 2013 when Steve Horvath, professor of genetics at University of California, discovered an epigenetic clock from a naturally occurring process called DNA methylation. In DNA methylation, markers attach to (or detach from) DNA throughout life, in response to environmental factors such as nutrition, exercise and stress, according to Hannah Went, director of operations at TruDiagnostic, a health data company. “These markers change gene expression without changing the base DNA structure,” Went explains, “basically, acting as sticky notes to your DNA’s recipe book, adjusting how the body reads each step of the recipe, to make your body age faster or slower according to how well you’re treating your body.”
Ways to Promote Health and Longevity
- Occasional fasting
- Cold exposure—cold showers, cryotherapy, ice bath
- Grounding—being barefoot on the earth
- Healthy diet