There are good reasons why most people want to stay younger, longer. You look better, feel better, and -- most importantly – younger cells are often healthier cells.
Science is doing its best to help us turn back our body clocks, age-wise. Advances have been made in the field of epigenetics, an area of study that examines changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression. Over the last decade or so, epigenetic scientists have searched for new ways to slow down aging and to stave off the diseases that accompany it.
Back in 2013, in a seminal article called “The Hallmarks of Aging,” five scientists discussed nine hallmarks with an eye to increasing “healthy lifespan” (Cell #153). In 2021, they updated the article to include three more hallmarks. Then the medical community proposed three more hallmarks of aging, bringing the total to fifteen..
So what does this mean to you?
It means that once science fully understands why and how our bodies age, it can work on interventions and corrections to slow down the aging process. But even right now, there are things you can do to give yourself the best chance of aging healthfully!
Let’s review the research to get a sense of what’s happening and what’s possible in the exciting, rapidly-progressing fields of epigenetics and longevity studies.
#1: Genomic Instability is the first hallmark of aging cited by scientists. Over the course of a lifetime, our DNA’s original integrity gets exposed to events that damage it. While our cells have some tools they can use to correct this damage, these tools decline in efficiency over time. Genomic damage accumulates and our cells start to malfunction. Scientists note that “cancer and aging can be regarded as two different manifestations of the same underlying process – namely, the accumulation of cellular damage.”
A recent commenter on the article, Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, says that diet and lifestyle interventions can help “dial back” our epigenetic aging clocks. A study of children with pediatric cancer says that “diet and nutrition are the most critical determinants of human cancer risk” and “micronutrients and macronutrients control genome stability”. So getting enough sleep and exercise are two great ways you can invest in the health of your present and future body! Focus on the lifestyle choices you can optimize for excellent health.
#2: Telomere Attrition: Telomeres are sections of DNA located at the end of chromosomes. As telomeres atrophy, aging accelerates.
It is thought that the correct allotment or amount of Vitamin D can potentially help stave off telomere attrition.(1), (2) Various physicians suggest a phytonutrient-rich diet, exercise, sleep, and meditation (or any other healthy means of managing stress) can lengthen telomeres.
#3: Epigenetic Alteration: Scientists say that manipulating the epigenome may help improve age-related pathologies. Then we won’t die as early and frequently from age-related diseases.
Diet and lifestyle interventions may slow epigenetic alteration. In a document called “Effective Reversal of Epigenetic Alterations,” Dr. Caryl Fish suggests that Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction is the safest and most effective option for slowing this hallmark of aging..
#4: Proteostasis: Proteostasis is the loss of protein homeostasis, and it’s connected to aging. Thankfully, scientists say that recent research offers “remarkable examples of genetic manipulations that improve proteostasis and delay aging in mammals.”
Researchers believe that fasting and dietary restriction can help combat proteostasis. Doctors have also suggested eating polyphenols, which are compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and green tea.
#5: Deregulated Nutrient Sensing: Nutrient sensing networks in the body regulate certain types of cellular activity. Weight gain and stress impacts the behavior of these networks. When nutrient sensing breaks down, this leads to inflammation and related dysfunctions.
To combat deregulated nutrient sensing, researchers suggest that we start by optimizing diet. Taurine is an essential amino acid usually absorbed via food, but also sometimes via supplement. One article suggests taurine supplementation in humans should be studied, since taurine deficiency may be a driver of aging in humans.
#6: Mitochondrial Dysfunction: Scientists say progressive mitochondrial dysfunction may cause global cellular damage. This can lead to diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease.
In a scientific study, researchers note,: “Lifestyle factors such as diet, head injury and smoking have also been shown to increase the risk of AD”. They point to scientific articles which say that “enhancing mitophagy” is “a promising therapeutic strategy” to combat AD. Both “caloric restriction and physical exercise” are cited as strategies to induce mitophagy. Another study says that “l-carnitine also plays a major part in protecting cellular membranes”.
#7: Cellular Senescence: Senescent cells, a study explains, are cells that have stopped dividing due to decline in function, yet “release chemicals that can trigger inflammation”. However, some senescent cells play positive roles “across the lifespan,” so the role of senescence in aging is not entirely positive or negative.
One study suggests that more research should be done on senomorphics and senolytics, two subcategories of drugs that target senescent cells. The study also mentions “caloric restriction (cr), a therapeutic approach that can delay development of age-related dysfunction…”.
#8: Stem Cell Exhaustion: Stem cells are the raw material for our body’s cells. When they de-differentiate, this can help with tissue repair. Scientists say that recent studies of stem cell rejuvenation are promising and “may reverse the aging phenotype at the organismal Level”.
One study suggests that diet-based interventions like caloric restriction, fasting, and fasting-mimicking diets can counteract stem cell damage and improve health and life span.
#9: Altered Intercellular Communication: Aging involves more than cell-autonomous alterations. It also involves inter-cellular communicative exchanges, which become increasingly compromised with age.
Researchers are examining the ability of the medication metformin to improve compromised inter-cellular communication. For instance, this study says, “metformin modulates the gut microbiota further improving metabolism and reducing inflammation”. Focusing on interventions and lifestyle choices that reduce global inflammation can be a good strategy to improve health and longevity.
#10: Disabled Macroautophagy: Autophagy is a bodily process that removes cellular waste products. When autophagy declines,aging accelerates.
A 2021 study concludes that more research is needed into autophagy-targeted therapy. It states, “Even with huge potential, untiil now, no intervention designed specifically for the autophagy machinery is clinically accessbile to treat age-related diseases”. Another article proposes nutraceuticals as “potentially useful” in combatting this hallmark of aging.
#11: Chronic Inflammation: Inflammation increases with aging and spurs disease. Aging is usually accompanied by low-grade, chronic inflammation, which is referred to as “inflammaging”
A 2023 article in the journal Immunity & Aging cites “dietary restriction, intermittent fasting and exercise” as factors responsible for preventing “multiple diseases associated with aging”.
#12: Dysbiosis: Our immune system has recently become a “hot topic” in the fields of nutrition and epigenetics. We know that microbes live in and on us and they impact our immune system. When the bacteria inside you is out of balance, this leads to dysbiosis. A recent study compared the gut microbiota of centenarians with young people and found key similarities between the key groups.
Lifestyle choices affect your microbiome. Healthline advises taking pre-and probiotics and eating healthy foods like dark, leafy greens to ensure that you’re getting adequate nutrients.
#13: Altered Mechanical Properties: Aging may change the mechanical properties of your tissues, making mechanical processes flow less smoothly.
The field of mechanobiology is thought to be promising in terms of providing potential solutions to this hallmark of aging. When guided by a medical doctor, mechanotherapeutics may be helpful in tissue repair. Stretching and mobility exercises performed regularly may help maintain optimal tissue performance.
#14: Cellular Enlargement: The enlargement of cells is connected to cellular aging. Cells function better when they are not enlarged.
So far, the best defense against cellular enlargement seems to be to make healthy dietary choices. The drug rapamycin may also have promising effects against this hallmark of aging; of course, this prescription drug must be prescribed by a medical doctor amd taken under his or her guidance.
#15: Splicing Dysregulation: DNA is copied into messenger RNA for protein production, but this process becomes impaired as we age, which can lead to diseases like Type-2 diabetes or cancer.
Healthy diets (e.g., a Mediterranean diet or low-fat high carbohydrate diet) were shown in this study to positively impact several splicing machinery components.
So there you have it! When we look at the 15 scientific hallmarks of aging, we see that diet, exercise, and supplements all have large roles to play in nurturing optimal health and longevity. We look forward to more progress in the field of epigenetics and we’re eager for advances that will benefit you and all of us in the human family.
Meanwhile, sleep well, eat right, exercise, and look into supplements that can help you stay younger, longer!
PLEASE NOTE: Pristine’s does not give medical advice or recommendations. We strongly advise consulting with your medical doctor before starting a new fitness regime or taking dietary supplements. Thank you for your interest in Pristine’s and we wish you a wonderful health journey!