Ways to Make Your Cells Younger May 10, 2017 16:03
How to get a youthful glow at a cellular level.
The devil is in the details, and no where is this more true than in the field of anti-aging. Sure, you can slather on creams, dye your hair, or even take prescription drugs, but that's not going to the root: Your cells.
Aging isn't just something that happens externally; it's a process that happens at a microscopic level. Fortunately (unlike the dubious effectiveness of some anti-aging treatments), targeting your cells not only slows aging, but can sometimes reverse it.
Let us introduce you to the key players in cellular aging all tied to all-important cell division. Cell division is important for replacing old, tired cells with shiny new ones.
First, there is senescence, a phenomenon where old cells simply stop dividing. Senescence is triggered by things called telomeres. "They are protective caps at the ends of chromosomes," says Lauren Kessler, author of Counterclockwise" Just as plastic tips keep your shoelaces from unraveling, telomeres keep your DNA from beginning to fray during cell division." Telomeres play help signal senescence when they get too short.
Finally, Kessler focuses on mitochondria. Described as the powerhouse of the cell, the mitochondria generate the energy that allows the body to perform every function including, you guessed it, cell division.
A stupid cold that you could shake off in a day as a kid now has you lying in bed for a week. You can blame your aging immunity. As we age, our immune systems decline, due to scenescence of our T cells, leaving us more vulnerable to everything from colds to cancer.
This decline in T cell function has been linked to a molecule called p38 MAPK by researchers from the University College of London. However, blocking p38 MAPK enhanced T cells ability to divide by your cells ability to divide by improving the functioning of the mitochondria.
The good news is that p38 MAPK was activated by low nutrient levels, leaving researchers with the idea that the key to aging is on your dinner plate. "[It's a] possibility that dietary instead of drug intervention could be used to enhance immunity since metabolism and senescence are two sides of the same coin," ) says researcher Arne Akbar, PhD.
Exercise isn't just a great prescription for medical issues, it may also be the fountain of youth. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic found that, in a mouse study, not only does poor diet (i.e. fast food) speed up cellular aging, exercise is effective against this damage.
Adding an exercise wheel to the mice's environment led to significant decreases in the signs of cell senescence and associated inflammation. "Our data clearly show that poor nutritional choices dramatically accelerate the accumulation of senescent cells, and for the first time, that exercise can prevent or delay this fundamental process of aging," the authors reported.
Plus, Kessler explains that exercise boosts your mitochondria "The biochemical truth is, if you demand more, you will get more," she says. "Too many studies to ignore show that exercise increases both the number of mitochondria and their metabolic activity." This translates to healthier cells that have the energy to keep dividing.
The list of benefits of losing weight is a mile long-from getting diabetes under control to lowering your blood pressure. And losing weight may also give your cells a major face lift, according to research from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. They found that undergoing gastric bypass surgery increased the length of a person's telomeres.
"Obesity has an adverse effect on health, causes pre-mature aging, and reduces life expectancy," says John Morton, MD, Chief of Bariatric Surgery at Stanford University Medial Center. "If your telomeres get longer, you're likely to reverse the effects of aging."
While this study was conducted on surgical weight loss, we're hoping future researearch will be able to replicate it with diet and exercise in humans (not just mice as demonstrated in the previous slide).
Want to get back to the care-free days of childhood? Meditation is your path to de-stress your cells, according to research from the American College of Physicians. Researchers found that regular meditators showed that regular meditators had a 17 percent decrease in cellular stress indicators after a meditation retreat (versus non-meditators, who actually had a 3 percent increase in cellular stress indicators after a comparable, non-meditation retreat).
De-stressing your cells is an important step for anti-aging because stress has been found to be as toxic as chemicals like benzene or cigarette smoke. Kessler also points out that there are studies that demonstrate a link between meditation and the length of your telomeres.