If you’re a regular reader/follower, you’ll know I frequently share new research related to epigenetics and biological aging that I think is useful to know. I have also collected here what I hope is a useful “round up” of that research over the past year. Read on to learn more and make sure you haven’t missed any of these key study findings!
The usefulness of measuring bio age
Two great studies this year have provided evidence for the usefulness of using biological age assessments to predict lifespan and healthspan:
In one cohort study, using data from 3 Women’s Health Initiative studies that included 1813 older women, researchers found that lower biological age, as measured by 4 epigenetic clocks (including the Horvath clock we used in our study), was associated with higher odds of reaching the age of 90 with mobility and cognitive functioning still intact.
In another study of French centenarians, the research findings indicated that those living to be 100 or older had DNA methylation patterns that were biologically younger – over 27 years biologically younger in some cases! (Yes, 100 is the new 73!). 4 epigenetic clocks were also used in this analysis, including the Horvath clock.
The important takeaway is that we continue to see that these clocks predict healthy aging. You can access the 3rd generation bio age testing I use in my clinic and research here.
Vitamin D, bio age and brain health
We have further confirmation this year that correcting vitamin D deficiency decreases bio age. So vitamin D alone, we can conclude, increases both healthspan and lifespan! How extraordinary is that for a single nutrient intervention?
And what’s particularly exciting to me about the vitamin D/bio age connection is that the pool of research is growing. Other papers, for example, here and here, demonstrate the vitamin D/bio age connection.
Vitamin D also continues to perform for other aging concerns. In this study, participants with a vitamin D status <25 nmol/L (10ng/mL) had a 54% higher risk of dementia compared to those within the range of 50-75.9 nmol/L (20-30 ng/mL). The researchers also noted a threshold effect for vitamin D, where both lower and HIGHER concentrations were associated with lower total brain, white and gray matter volumes.
Movement (and avoiding sedentarism)
If you want to be biologically younger you’ve got to be moving your body. 1500 more steps per day, spending fewer than 3 hours sedentary, or 5 additional minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per day were all associated with significant reductions in biological age in this study. Very cool.
Bio age is increased by stress and restored through recovery
According to new research from Duke university (via the preprint site biorxiv.org), physiological and psychological stress can accelerate biological age – not a great surprise. But what was interesting about this paper was the argument that, with the right inputs, it can also decelerate almost as rapidly as it accelerates when that stress is relieved.
We also know that meditation, tai chi, and yoga, can slow bio age when practiced over time, which could help speed that recovery and promote slower biological aging.
Loneliness is as aging as… smoking?
I’m sure you wouldn’t disagree that smoking is one of the most potent age accelerants. However, this study from Stanford University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong demonstrated that loneliness and feelings of loneliness are actually as potent as smoking in accelerating bio age.
It’s time to give supportive community the space it deserves as a bio age reducer.
Combatting the diseases of aging via DNA methylation and foundational functional medicine interventions
In a cancer-related study, looking at women at high risk for breast cancer, researchers gave participants 5g of EPA+DHA for 6 months and looked at DNA methylation before and after. At the end of the study, pro-inflammatory genes were inhibited via hypermethylation in the gene promoter region. That is, the genes that can promote cancer via inflammation were dialed down.
In another study published in Frontiers in Aging, a modest 2000 IU vitamin D, plus 1 g of omega-3 fatty acids, and a basic home strength training program, led to a significant 61% decrease in cancers in over 2000 older adults (average age of 75) over a 5 year period. These are impressive results.
Microplastics have been shown to cross the blood brain barrier (that important internal barrier that should keep harmful substances away from this vital organ), where they can cause altered gene expression and even cell death. Lowering exposure to toxins is a key component of Younger You, and there are steps we can take to reduce microplastics exposure:
- Use water filters
- Minimize the use of plastic food containers and avoid microwaving in plastic containers
- Choose plastic-free personal care products (including toothpaste!)
- Eat more wrapper-free fresh foods from your local farmer’s market
- Avoid nylon tea bags (those that are used to make your tea look more fancy)
Noninvasive “Epigenetic MRIs” may be a part of our future
Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign are working on a so-called “Epigenetic MRI”. This will allow us to see DNA methylation patterns and global gene expression in living brain tissue. The implications of this technology are extraordinary!
We will be able to look at the immediate (and long term) outcomes of different treatments on brain health, including our diet and lifestyle program – the ingestion of epinutrients or exercise for instance. We can identify when a brain is aging faster, too, and take steps to correct that.
Let us know in the comments below what you think of these studies, and what others were on your radar from this past year.
If you’re interested in applying the Younger You principles for yourself, you can contact our clinic to find the right level of support to help you on your journey.