Healthy lifestyles can not only prevent, but also reverse the most common age-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. According to the new study, you can turn back the clocks and reverse aging at a genetic level by adopting some positive lifestyles.
Telomeres get shorter as cells age
In this study, the researchers from UCSF focused on the length of telomeres, the caps at the end of a chromatid, which are responsible for protecting chromosomes from deterioration and getting damaged. The length of telomeres is a good indicator of cell health. Without telomeres, our cells would quickly age and die off. As we become older, telomeres become shorter and shorter. Shorter telomeres have been linked to higher risk of premature death and age-related diseases, such as cancers, obesity, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
The research team recruited two groups of men who were diagnosed with early stage prostate cancer for the study. None of the participants has received any surgery or radiation treatment for the disease. Ten participants were placed in group one – the intervention group. Twenty-five men were placed in group two – the control group.
“Genes are a predisposition, but they are not our fate.”
The first group underwent complete lifestyle changes to their diet, fitness, stress management and social support. The second group was the control group and was not required to make any lifestyle changes. The researchers measured the length of telomeres at the beginning of the study and five years alter, at the end of the study.
The results were astonishing. Men who adopted a vegetarian lifestyle, exercised moderately, practiced yoga and receive social support showed significantly younger cells. The findings also showed that the length of telomeres increased by 10% in group one. In contrast, participants in group two had a decreased telomere length of 3%. The net difference in the length of telomeres was 13%, indicating the age-reversing effect of positive lifestyles.
“The implications of this relatively small pilot study may go beyond men with prostate cancer,” says Professor Dean Ornish of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute at the University of California, San Francisco. “If validated by large-scale randomized controlled trials, these comprehensive lifestyle changes may significantly reduce the risk of a wide variety of diseases and premature mortality. Our genes, and our telomeres, are a predisposition, but they are not necessarily our fate.”