We're all aware that diet, exercise and stress levels all have an effect on how we age, but a scientific study now suggests that adopting a healthy lifestyle could actually help us reverse ageing.
After following a regime of eight weeks that included a specific food and dietary plan, as well as a programme of exercise, relaxation and sleep good practices, the participants in the study managed to reverse their ageing of 4.6 years on average.
This is what recent research by American scientists from the Institute for Functional Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the American Nutrition Association reveals.
They sought to determine whether a lifestyle that favours DNA methylation, a biological mechanism that plays a key role in certain aspects of ageing, could favourably influence biological age.
Published in the journal Aging, the researchers' investigation took the form of an eight-week case study in which six women undertook a specific programme of eating and lifestyle practices.
This included advice on diet, sleep, exercise, relaxation, probiotic and phytonutrient consumption.
All of this was accompanied by comprehensive nutritional coaching.
The scientists specify that they analysed DNA methylation and biological age at the beginning and end of the programme via blood samples.
They used a type of marker often referred to as an epigenetic clock, which enables the biological age of an individual to be precisely determined.
And the result is surprising since the participants in the study managed to reduce their biological age by more than four years on average.
The researchers explain that the majority of participants showed a decrease in biological age by between 1.22 and 11.01 years at the end of the programme.
More generally, they state that after the study, the average biological age of the participants was 51.23 years, compared to 55.83 years before the study – a decrease of 4.6 years on average following the eight weeks of intervention.
Keep in mind that biological age, unlike chronological age, which is determined by the year of birth, refers to the physiological state of an individual – in other words, the state of their body.
Before getting overly excited, be aware that there are some limitations to the study to be taken into account, starting with the sample.
Only six women participated in this research, which is an extremely small group, even though most of the participants saw their biological age decline.
More research is needed in a larger population to determine exactly whether diet and healthy lifestyle can reverse ageing.
It should be noted that this work does support the results of a pilot clinical trial, presented in 2021, and carried out that time with 43 men aged between 50 and 72 years, who followed the same programme and saw a drop in biological age of 3.23 years on average, compared to the control group.
"This case series of women participants extends the previous pilot study of this intervention in men, indicating that favourable biological age changes may be achievable in both sexes.
"In addition, the investigation of otherwise-healthy individuals, rather than those with diagnosed disease, suggests an influence directly on underlying mechanisms of ageing instead of disease-driven ageing," the study authors explain in a statement. – AFP Relaxnews