According to a recent study, improving diet and lifestyle could reverse the aging process. These findings may be significant for achieving a more youthful metabolism and preventing the onset of age-related diseases.
The study reported that when diet and lifestyle were improved and maintained over an eight-week period, biological age was reduced by about three years.1 As opposed to using chronological age, researchers from McGill University in Montreal, the National University of Natural Medicine in Oregon, the Institute for Functional Medicine in Washington, and the University of California, used the Horvath DNAmAge clock to analyze DNA methylation patterns and calculate biological age.
DNA methylation and aging
DNA methylation patterns in certain regions of the genome have been linked to age. Currently, some of the best biochemical indicators of age are methylation patterns.2 If these patterns can be altered, they could reverse the aging process. The Horvath DNAmAge clock, which uses DNA methylation patterns to calculate biological age, predicts mortality rates from all causes better than chronological age.1
The study included 43 healthy males between the ages of 50 and 72. Those that received intervention were given instruction on diet, exercise, sleep, relaxation, and probiotic and phytonutrient supplementation. The control group received no intervention. Samples of saliva were used to determine DNA methylation.
What the study found
Over the eight-week period, those who were treated scored an average of 1.96 years younger than they were at the start of the study.1 The control group scored an average of 1.27 years older compared to the start of the study. This suggested that the group who received diet and lifestyle intervention scored an average of 3.23 years younger than if they had continued without intervention.
The intervention incorporated a balance of healthy habits. The diet was plant-focused with limited animal proteins that were nutrient-dense, such as liver and eggs. Participants were also asked to exercise for at least 30 minutes daily at a minimum of five days a week at 60-80% intensity. Breathing exercises were conducted twice daily, and the minimum average amount of nightly sleep was seven hours.
Although the results are promising, researchers note that their findings could be limited by the relatively small sample size used. They also recognize that a younger biological age may not necessarily mean a reduction in the risk of age-related diseases. More research would be required to determine how biological age influences the onset of specific age-related diseases.
The study’s findings are promising for those looking to reverse the aging process naturally, using diet and lifestyle alterations. Dr. Fitzgerald, lead author of the study, commented, “What is extremely exciting is that food and lifestyle practices […] are able to have such an impact on those DNA methylation patterns we know predict aging and age-related disease. 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”.3
- Fitzgerald, K.N. et al. (2021). Potential reversal of epigenetic age using a diet and lifestyle intervention: a pilot randomized clinical trial. Aging; 13(7): 9419-9432. Doi: 10.18632/aging.202913.
- Horvath, S. and K. Raj. (2018). DNA methylation-based biomarkers and the epigenetic clock theory of ageing. Nature reviews genetics; 19(6): 371-384. Doi: 10.1038/s41576-018-0004-3.
“Three years younger in just eight weeks? A new study suggests yes!”. Impact Journals LLC. EurekAlert! Accessed on May 31, 2021. Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-05/ijl-tyy052721.php
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