The ageing process is often antithetical to good health because the risk of developing a range of chronic diseases increases as the years go by. However, research continues to suggest you have a considerable degree of control over your biological clock. This understanding was recently animated by a clinical trial that showed you can successfully reduce your biological age by more than three years in only eight weeks with diet and lifestyle through balancing DNA methylation.
DNA methylation patterns – a term used to describe the accumulation of damage and loss of function to our cells, tissues and organs – have become a leading means by which scientists evaluate and track biological ageing.
This damage is what drives diseases of ageing.
The study, released on April 12, utilised a randomised controlled clinical trial conducted among 43 healthy adult males between the ages of 50-72.
The eight-week treatment program included diet, sleep, exercise and relaxation guidance, and supplemental probiotics and phytonutrients, resulting in a statistically significant reduction of biological age – over three years younger – compared to controls.
The study was independently conducted by the Helfgott Research Institute, with laboratory assistance from Yale University Center for Genome Analysis, and the results independently analysed at McGill University and the National University of Natural Medicine.
The study’s lead author, Kara Fitzgerald ND IFMCP, stated that “the combined intervention program was designed to target a specific biological mechanism called DNA methylation, and in particular the DNA methylation patterns that have been identified as highly predictive of biological age.
“We suspect that this focus was the reason for its remarkable impact. These early results appear to be consistent with, and greatly extend, the very few existing studies that have so far examined the potential for biological age reversal. And it is unique in its use of a safe, non-pharmaceutical dietary and lifestyle program, control group, and the extent of the age reduction. We are currently enrolling participants for a larger study which we expect will corroborate these findings”.
Leading epigeneticist Moshe Szyf PhD of McGill University and co-author on the study added: “The uniqueness of Dr Fitzgerald approach is that her trial devised a natural but mechanistic driven strategy to target the methylation system of our body.
“This study provides the first insight into the possibility of using natural alterations to target epigenetic processes and improve our well being and perhaps even longevity and lifespan.”
“What is extremely exciting”, commented doctor Fitzgerald, “is that food and lifestyle practices, including specific nutrients and food compounds known to selectively alter DNA methylation, are able to have such an impact on those DNA methylation patterns we know predict ageing and age-related disease”.
“I believe that this, together with new possibilities for us all to measure and track our DNA methylation age, will provide significant new opportunities for both scientists and consumers.”
General tips for ageing
Exercise is vital for your health, no matter what age you are.
Adults should aim to:
- Do strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least two days a week
- Do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week
- Spread exercise evenly over four to five days a week, or every day
- Reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity.
What counts as moderate aerobic activity?
Moderate activity will raise your heart rate, and make you breathe faster and feel warmer.
One way to tell if you’re working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk, but not sing.