Can we turn back our biological clock? Functional nutrition and anti-aging.

Aging is an inevitable part of life, but recent scientific advancements suggest that we might have more control over how we age than previously thought. Biological age, which reflects the true state of our bodies at a cellular level, can differ from chronological age, the number of years we have lived. Emerging research indicates that lifestyle and dietary changes can significantly reduce biological age, effectively making us younger from the inside out. So the best anti-aging treatment may actually be the food you’re consuming. This is an area that functional nutrition shines!

Understanding Biological Age and Epigenetics

Biological age is influenced by various factors, including genetics, lifestyle, and environmental factors. One of the key mechanisms involved in aging is DNA methylation, an epigenetic process that affects gene expression.

DNA Methylation Simplified

DNA methylation is like a dimmer switch for your genes. It involves adding tiny chemical tags called methyl groups to DNA. These tags can turn genes on or off, which influences how your cells function. As you age, the patterns of DNA methylation can change, leading to the activation or suppression of genes that affect aging and disease. So it makes sense, that in order to reduce biological age, we should support methylation.

Studies looking at diet and biological age
  1. A small 8-week program targeting DNA methylation reduced biological age by an average of 3.23 years in men and 4.6 years in women. The intervention included a nutrient-rich diet, regular exercise, stress reduction, and specific supplements.
  2. The Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE) trial demonstrated that caloric restriction can slow biological aging. Participants who reduced their caloric intake by 25% showed significant improvements in markers of aging, including reduced DNA methylation age.
  3. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and healthy fats, typical of the Mediterranean diet, is associated with a slower rate of biological aging. High dietary quality, marked by low consumption of red meat and sugars, is crucial for reducing biological age, particularly in women who are less physically active​.
  4. Research in Nature Communications demonstrated that cycles of a fasting-mimicking diet can reduce biological age by an average of 2.5 years. The FMD involves eating specific low-calorie, plant-based foods for five days a month and a regular diet for the remaining days. This regimen not only reduces biological age but also improves metabolic and immune function, reduces liver fat, and lowers diabetes risk factors​
Key Components of a Functional Nutrition Anti-Aging Program
  1. Foods that support DNA methylation, such as leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, berries, nuts, seeds, and organic animal proteins, are beneficial for reducing biological age.
  2. It is essential to follow a low glycaemic diet that minimizes refined grains and sugars while focusing on whole, nutrient-dense foods.
  3. Beets are a methylation superfood so you should be eating them daily.
  4. Use herbs and spices like rosemary and turmeric – these are known to support methylation as well.
  5. Drink enough water – you should be taking in a minimum of 8-10 glasses per day.
  6. Stress has a massive impact on biological age. Those with longstanding mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder are routinely biologically older than their chronological age. Incorporating stress management techniques into your life is essential.
  7. A 2017 study explored how high levels of exercise impact cellular aging, focusing on telomere length. The study revealed that adults who engage in vigorous physical activity have notably longer telomeres compared to their sedentary or moderately active counterparts. Telomeres, which cap our chromosomes, shorten with each cell replication, a process closely tied to biological aging. The research suggests that high physical activity may offer a biological aging advantage of up to nine years over sedentary individuals and seven years over moderately active ones. To achieve these benefits, it’s recommended to jog for at least 30 minutes daily (women) or 40 minutes (men), five days a week.

It’s truly remarkable to consider how both our lifestyle choices and dietary habits can profoundly influence our potential for anti-aging. While external appearance matters, the real essence of aging gracefully lies within our cellular health and resilience.

If you are interested in incorporating a functional nutrition anti-aging protocol into your life, please contact me.

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