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New Research: Possible Ways to Slow Aging

Mar 9, 2023
New Research: Possible Ways to Slow Aging

Life span is determined by how quickly your body cells age (innate aging) and external forces that affect the aging process (secondary aging). Excessive food intake, a lack of exercise, and the impact of chronic disease accelerate the aging process. Anti-aging medicine seeks to understand the metabolic changes that occur in response to lifestyle choices. Understanding these changes can lead to medications and treatments that may slow or even reverse the aging process.

There is a strong demand for age management products and supplements as evidence accumulates that while aging is inevitable, the rate at which it occurs may not be. Anti-aging supplements are expected to improve physical appearance, longevity, and health outcomes. The time to think about anti-aging is now. Start today by making lifestyle changes that could lead to a longer, healthier lifespan.

Diet

For the last several decades, the life span in higher- and lower-income countries has increased due to better access to plentiful and nutritious foods. However, over the last decade, life expectancy has reached a plateau.1 Under optimal settings, the human life span is expected to reach 120 years. However, in the general population, it is more realistically 61 to 83 years.2

Calorie restriction

Calorie restriction is meant to reduce your dietary intake while still maintaining optimal nutrition. Clinical trial data and animal studies support the idea that calorie restriction has the potential to add 1–5 years to your lifespan with an increase in quality of life.2,3 A calorie-restricted diet must be high in micronutrients and fiber.

Primate animals fed a regular diet had more severe and twice the rate of age-related diseases such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and osteoporosis than animals fed a calorie-restricted diet.4

Restricting calories too much can reduce bone density, muscle mass, and fat mass. It can also lead to nutritional deficiencies that affect overall health.3 The optimal amount of calorie restriction for aging is expected to promote harm to physical fitness and mental health and, therefore, is not readily prescribed. Calorie restriction of 10% to 30%, along with micronutrient supplements, has shown beneficial effects on aging biomarkers and human health.2

Intermittent fasting

Since long-term calorie restriction is difficult to adhere to, alternatives such as intermittent fasting have been considered. The length of fasting varies from 18 hours to several days. In between fasts, people eat as usual.5

People with prediabetes who used time-restricted fasting had better immune function, insulin sensitivity, and blood pressure, independent of weight loss.6 Limited clinical trial data suggests that intermittent fasting may preserve fat-free mass better than fasting alone. Other than potential weight loss, research on the benefits of intermittent fasting is limited.3

To get started with intermittent fasting, consider skipping one meal per day, either breakfast or dinner.

A healthy diet for antiaging

Exercise

Physical inactivity increases your risk of 35 different chronic diseases. Noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and mental disorders account for 68% of deaths worldwide.7 Physical inactivity and poor diet are significant contributors to noncommunicable disease risk.

“Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” Sir Edward Stanley

Benefits of exercise to prevent chronic disease include the following:8

  • Improves insulin sensitivity.
  • Improves blood sugar control, especially with supervised and high-intensity exercise.
  • Lowers blood pressure.
  • Improves cardiovascular fitness.
  • Lowers risk for 13 cancers.
  • Reduces inflammation.

Increased abdominal fat is associated with increased cardiovascular disease, dementia, colon cancer and breast cancer, and all-cause mortality.9,10

Pollution contribute to aging

Environment

The World Health Organization estimates that genetic factors explain approximately 25% of differences in the rate at which the aging process occurs, and the environment explains the other 75%.11

Several theories on how environmental factors impact the aging process have been proposed. One thing they all seem to have in common is that it is the cellular response to damage, not the damage itself, that causes cellular aging.

Ultraviolet radiation

Environmental factors, such as ultraviolet radiation (UVR), cause chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. UVR causes visible signs of aging, such as wrinkles, pigmentation changes, and skin sagging. Exposure to UV radiation prematurely ages the skin.12

Pollution

Wayne Cascio, director of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) National Health and Environmental Effects Laboratory, says that published studies investigating the effects of pollution on older adults and the aging process is limited.13

Potential associations between the environment and chronic disease/aging include:11,13

  • Fine matriculate matter (air pollution) is associated with an increased risk of dementia.14
  • Air pollution is associated with frailty.
  • Air pollution is associated with increased oxidative stress and inflammation in cells.
  • Air pollution increases the prevalence of respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and psychiatric diseases.
  • Extreme temperature changes are associated with higher mortality, especially among the elderly.15
  • Water hardness may be associated with increased cardiovascular disease.16 However, other studies have linked low levels of calcium and magnesium with lower life expectancy and poorer health.17
  • Increased soil selenium is associated with increased longevity,18 but in high concentrations, it can negatively impact human health.19

Invasive anti-aging tools like surgery should be reserved for specific purposes. With good nutrition, exercise, and skin protection, you can look good at any age without surgery.

Mental health is essential for healthy aging

Mental Health

Mental health is an important determinant of successful aging. Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other mental health conditions increase in prevalence with aging. Advances in technology are helping older adults compensate for some declines in cognitive function associated with aging. However, researchers are finding that mental health significantly impacts the aging rate.

An international collaboration led by Deep Longevity that involved U.S. and Chinese scientists has measured the effect of being lonely, feeling unhappy, and having restless sleep on how fast you age. Their results indicate that anti-aging therapies need to focus as much on mental health as they do on physical health.  

Using an aging clock that was developed using blood and biometric data from 11,914 Chinese adults, researchers found that:20

VariableAcceleration in biological age, years
Poor psychological state (fearful, hopeless, depressed, lack of focus, unhappy, lonely, bothered, restless sleep)+1.65
Restless sleep+0.44
Currently smoking+1.25
Male+0.42
Living in a rural area (low availability of medical services)+0.39
Never being married+0.32

Medications

Several medications are being studied for their potential to extend health span.

Metformin

Metformin is a medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. It is also thought to have anti-aging potential. In animal studies, it increased the median and maximum lifespans by 5%.21 Metformin is thought to suppress inflammation caused by aging and damaged cells. When a cell becomes damaged, it stops dividing. This is to protect the organism from out-of-control cell division (cancer). But the cell continues to secrete inflammatory chemicals that harm surrounding cells.22 Metformin also enhances protein recycling and improves mitochondrial function.23

The clinical trial Targeting Aging with Metformin (TAME) explores metformin’s potential ability to prolong health span by studying how long it takes for participants to develop age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and dementia. Metformin also needs further study in terms of its effects on individuals. Its mode of action and potential side effects are not fully understood.24

Rapamycin

Rapamycin is a cell growth inhibitor (protein mTOR) and immunosuppressant that is produced by bacteria and used to treat cancer and prevent organ rejection. Inhibiting the protein mTOR gives cells time to recycle damaged proteins instead of allowing them to build up in cells. Producing replacement proteins is the preferred process because it takes less energy to build proteins than to recycle them.25 Rapamycin also targets senescent cells.26

In experiments with fruit flies, researchers found that short-term courses of rapamycin had anti-aging benefits. This may be important for human use because it has the potential to minimize rapamycin’s side effects. Researchers found the best antiaging effects when rapamycin was given in early adulthood.27

Other medications

In 2021, researchers in Shanghai found that procyanidin C1, a natural compound found in grape seeds, prolonged the lives of old mice by 9% and improved their physical fitness. Procyanidin C1 helps to clear older or senescent cells from the body before they cause damage by releasing inflammatory chemicals.28

In another animal study, researchers found that when mice were treated with quercetin (a plant pigment) and dasatinib (treats blood cancer), older cells were destroyed, and the mice became healthier, stronger, and lived longer.

Animal studies have shown that senolytic drugs (kill old and damaged cells) can delay, prevent, or ease more than 40 diseases.26

Supplements

Supplements that reduce oxidative stress or activate SIRT enzymes are thought to support antiaging. Research supports the theory that DNA damage, not oxidative damage, contributes most to the aging process.

Commonly used vitamins and supplements recommended for age management include:

  • Sermorelin is a growth hormone secretagogue. Sermorelin can increase muscle mass and strength and reduce body fat. There is some evidence that increased growth hormone may reduce longevity.29
  • Glutathione is a potent antioxidant; glutathione can improve immune function and reduce oxidative stress.
  • NAD+ is a universal cellular electron transporter, coenzyme, and signaling molecule that transfers energy from foods to body cells, which can be used for growth and repair.
  • Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant and mitochondrial cofactor that is involved in energy conversion in mitochondria. These organelles produce cellular energy.
  • Metformin synergy combines the antiaging benefits of metformin with leucine and sildenafil, which act synergistically to reduce body weight and triglycerides by activating SIRT1.
New Research: Possible Ways to Slow Aging
Disclaimer
While we strive to always provide accurate, current, and safe advice in all of our articles and guides, it’s important to stress that they are no substitute for medical advice from a doctor or healthcare provider. You should always consult a practicing professional who can diagnose your specific case. The content we’ve included in this guide is merely meant to be informational and does not constitute medical advice.

New Research: Possible Ways to Slow Aging

Leann Poston, M.D.

Dr. Leann Poston is a licensed physician in the state of Ohio who holds an M.B.A. and an M. Ed. She is a full-time medical communications writer and educator who writes and researches for Invigor Medical. Dr. Poston lives in the Midwest with her family. She enjoys traveling and hiking. She is an avid technology aficionado and loves trying new things.

References

  • Ludwig DS. Lifespan Weighed Down by Diet. Jama. Jun 7 2016;315(21):2269-70. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.3829
  • Bergeron N, Siri-Tarino PW, Bray GA, Krauss RM. Nutrition and Cardiometabolic Health. CRC Press; 2017.
  • Flanagan EW, Most J, Mey JT, Redman LM. Calorie Restriction and Aging in Humans. Annual Review of Nutrition. 2020;40(1):105-133. doi:10.1146/annurev-nutr-122319-034601
  • Mattison JA, Colman RJ, Beasley TM, et al. Caloric restriction improves health and survival of rhesus monkeys. Nature communications. 2017;8(1):14063.
  • Anton SD, Moehl K, Donahoo WT, et al. Flipping the metabolic switch: understanding and applying the health benefits of fasting. Obesity. 2018;26(2):254-268.
  • Sutton EF, Beyl R, Early KS, Cefalu WT, Ravussin E, Peterson CM. Early Time-Restricted Feeding Improves Insulin Sensitivity, Blood Pressure, and Oxidative Stress Even without Weight Loss in Men with Prediabetes. Cell Metab. Jun 5 2018;27(6):1212-1221.e3. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2018.04.010
  • Pedersen BK. The Physiology of Optimizing Health with a Focus on Exercise as Medicine. Annual Review of Physiology. 2019;81(1):607-627. doi:10.1146/annurev-physiol-020518-114339
  • Pedersen BK. The diseasome of physical inactivity–and the role of myokines in muscle–fat cross talk. The Journal of physiology. 2009;587(23):5559-5568.
  • Pischon T, Boeing H, Hoffmann K, et al. General and abdominal adiposity and risk of death in Europe. New England Journal of Medicine. 2008;359(20):2105-2120.
  • Plagg B, Zerbe S. How does the environment affect human ageing? An interdisciplinary review. Journal of Gerontology and Geriatrics. 2020;69(1):53-67. doi:10.36150/2499-6564-420
  • Karol MH. How Environmental Agents Influence the Aging Process. Biomolecules and Therapeutics. 2009;17(2):113-124. doi:10.4062/biomolther.2009.17.2.113
  • Schmidt CW. Environmental Factors in Successful Aging: The Potential Impact of Air Pollution. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2019;127(10):102001. doi:10.1289/ehp4579
  • Carey IM, Anderson HR, Atkinson RW, et al. Are noise and air pollution related to the incidence of dementia? A cohort study in London, England. BMJ Open. 2018;8(9):e022404. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2018-022404
  • Mitchell D, Heaviside C, Schaller N, et al. Extreme heat-related mortality avoided under Paris Agreement goals. Nature Climate Change. 2018/07/01 2018;8(7):551-553. doi:10.1038/s41558-018-0210-1
  • Monarca S, Donato F, Zerbini I, Calderon RL, Craun GF. Review of epidemiological studies on drinking water hardness and cardiovascular diseases. European journal of cardiovascular prevention and rehabilitation. 2006;13(4):495-506. doi:10.1097/01.hjr.0000214608.99113.5c
  • Rapant S, Cvečková V, Fajčíková K, Dietzová Z, Stehlíková B. Chemical composition of groundwater/drinking water and oncological disease mortality in Slovak Republic. Environmental Geochemistry and Health. 2017/02/01 2017;39(1):191-208. doi:10.1007/s10653-016-9820-6
  • Liu Y, Li Y, Jiang Y, Li H, Wang W, Yang L. Effects of Soil Trace Elements on Longevity Population in China. Biological Trace Element Research. 2013/06/01 2013;153(1):119-126. doi:10.1007/s12011-013-9673-0
  • MacFarquhar JK, Broussard DL, Melstrom P, et al. Acute Selenium Toxicity Associated With a Dietary Supplement. Archives of Internal Medicine. 2010;170(3):256-261. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2009.495
  • Galkin F, Kochetov K, Koldasbayeva D, et al. Psychological factors substantially contribute to biological aging: evidence from the aging rate in Chinese older adults. Aging. 2022;14(18):7206-7222. doi:10.18632/aging.204264
  • Martin-Montalvo A, Mercken EM, Mitchell SJ, et al. Metformin improves healthspan and lifespan in mice. Nat Commun. 2013;4:2192. doi:10.1038/ncomms3192
  • Moiseeva O, Deschênes-Simard X, St-Germain E, et al. Metformin inhibits the senescence-associated secretory phenotype by interfering with IKK/NF-κB activation. Aging Cell. Jun 2013;12(3):489-98. doi:10.1111/acel.12075
  • Wang C, Chen B, Feng Q, Nie C, Li T. Clinical perspectives and concerns of metformin as an anti-aging drug. Aging Med (Milton). Dec 2020;3(4):266-275. doi:10.1002/agm2.12135
  • Soukas AA, Hao H, Wu L. Metformin as Anti-Aging Therapy: Is It for Everyone? Trends Endocrinol Metab. Oct 2019;30(10):745-755. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2019.07.015
  • Harrison DE, Strong R, Sharp ZD, et al. Rapamycin fed late in life extends lifespan in genetically heterogeneous mice. Nature. Jul 16 2009;460(7253):392-5. doi:10.1038/nature08221
  • Papadopoli D, Boulay K, Kazak L, et al. mTOR as a central regulator of lifespan and aging. F1000Res. 2019;8doi:10.12688/f1000research.17196.1
  • Juricic P, Lu Y-X, Leech T, et al. Long-lasting geroprotection from brief rapamycin treatment in early adulthood by persistently increased intestinal autophagy. Nature Aging. 2022/09/01 2022;2(9):824-836. doi:10.1038/s43587-022-00278-w
  • Xu Q, Fu Q, Li Z, et al. The flavonoid procyanidin C1 has senotherapeutic activity and increases lifespan in mice. Nature Metabolism. 2021/12/01 2021;3(12):1706-1726. doi:10.1038/s42255-021-00491-8
  • Bartke A. Growth Hormone and Aging: Updated Review. World J Mens Health. Jan 2019;37(1):19-30. doi:10.5534/wjmh.180018

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