How to Reverse the Aging Clock
Every day I see people who want to look and feel younger, including myself.
Today’s post will explore how to scientifically reverse or slow down the Aging Clock.
We must first slip on our white coats and learn some science. I’ll do my best to simplify the concepts of chronologic age and biologic age.
Chronologic age is simple. It is the number of years since we were born.
Biologic age is vigorously debated in the scientific literature. Emerging techniques allow us to combine a variety of data sources to estimate our “Biologic Age”. Initially, researchers used physiologic variables such as visual tests, fitness evaluations and blood chemistry markers.
New techniques incorporate a variety of other variables including our how our genes respond to molecules that surround our DNA.
Epigenetics is one emerging tool that is being used by researchers all over the world to estimate our biologic age. Epigenetics is the study of the molecules that are on or around the double helix of our DNA. Methyl groups on the outside of our DNA or the “methylation” status is the most commonly used technique to help predict aging. (See graphic below)
It turns out that whether you have or don’t have a specific methyl group attached to your DNA at a specific site can partially predict your biologic age.
If you have made it this far, you can now proudly claim you just learned some organic chemistry. Congratulations!
Let’s slip off our white coats and get practical.
Here are three interventions that have been shown in human trials to reverse biologic age:
Plant Based Diet
Vitamin D Supplementation
Here are two more ways that have been shown to reverse our biologic clocks:
High Quality Sleep
Consistent Physical Activity
How much we eat, what we eat and our vitamin D status are all in our control.
Getting enough quality sleep and exercising more often are also things we can work on.
Optimizing these modifiable parameters can help us slow down or reverse aging. This isn’t my opinion. This is based on peer reviewed published data.
It is also crucial to understand what factors contribute to accelerated aging. Here are five of the top parameters associated with faster biologic aging:
Poor Lung Function
Body Mass Index
Low Education Level or Low Socio-Economic Status
(See graphic below where the green circles represent things that are associated with faster aging and the orange circle is associated with slower aging. The larger the circle the more influence it has on the aging process.)
Clearly, smoking is bad for you. So never start or quit as soon as possible to optimize your biologic age.
Working to avoid depression or properly treat it is next on the list. Optimizing your lung function, body mass index and education / economic status are also vital to your biologic age.
An emerging area of research reveals how our close social connections can help slow down or even reverse the aging process. We will explore this concept more in a future post.
Please post your comments below about what you think helps slow down the aging process and please also share this post with your network.
Human age reversal: Fact or fiction?
Johnson et al 2022
Although chronological age correlates with various age-related diseases and condi- tions, it does not adequately reflect an individual's functional capacity, well-being, or mortality risk. In contrast, biological age provides information about overall health and indicates how rapidly or slowly a person is aging. Estimates of biological age are thought to be provided by aging clocks, which are computational models (e.g., elastic net) that use a set of inputs (e.g., DNA methylation sites) to make a prediction. In the past decade, aging clock studies have shown that several age-related diseases, social variables, and mental health conditions associate with an increase in predicted biological age relative to chronological age. This phenomenon of age acceleration is linked to a higher risk of premature mortality. More recent research has demonstrated that predicted biological age is sensitive to specific interventions. Human trials have reported that caloric restriction, a plant-based diet, lifestyle changes involving ex- ercise, a drug regime including metformin, and vitamin D3 supplementation are all capable of slowing down or reversing an aging clock. Non-interventional studies have connected high-quality sleep, physical activity, a healthy diet, and other factors to age deceleration. Specific molecules have been associated with the reduction or reversal of predicted biological age, such as the antihypertensive drug doxazosin or the me- tabolite alpha-ketoglutarate. Although rigorous clinical trials are needed to validate these initial findings, existing data suggest that aging clocks are malleable in humans. Additional research is warranted to better understand these computational models and the clinical significance of lowering or reversing their outputs.
aging clock, biological age, epigenetic age, healthspan, lifespan, longevity, machine learning, mortality
A systematic review of biological, social and environmental factors associated with epigenetic clock acceleration
Oblak et al 2021
Aging involves a diverse set of biological changes accumulating over time that leads to increased risk of morbidity and mortality. Epigenetic clocks are now widely used to quantify biological aging, in order to investigate determinants that modify the rate of aging and to predict age-related outcomes. Numerous biological, social and environmental factors have been investigated for their relationship to epigenetic clock acceleration and deceleration. The aim of this review was to synthesize general trends concerning the associations between human epigenetic clocks and these investigated factors. We conducted a systematic review of all available literature and included 156 publications across 4 resource databases. We compiled a list of all presently existing blood-based epigenetic clocks. Subsequently, we created an extensive dataset of over 1300 study findings in which epigenetic clocks were utilized in blood tissue of human subjects to assess the relationship between these clocks and numeral environmental exposures and human traits. Statistical analysis was possible on 57 such relationships, measured across 4 different epigenetic clocks (Hannum, Horvath, Levine and GrimAge). We found that the Horvath, Hannum, Levine and GrimAge epigenetic clocks tend to agree in direction of effects, but vary in size. Body mass index, HIV infection, and male sex were significantly associated with acceleration of one or more epigenetic clocks. Acceleration of epigenetic clocks was also significantly related to mortality, cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes. Our findings provide a graphical and numerical synopsis of the past decade of epigenetic age estimation research and indicate areas where further attention could be focused in the coming years.