You likely know your blood type... but what about your aging type?
I'm not talking about how you look – if you age more like Helen Mirren or Ozzy Osbourne. I'm talking about how your body ages on the molecular level.
A new study from Stanford looked at detailed blood, stool, and other samples from a group of volunteers over a two year period. They found that in general, folks age biologically in four ways: through metabolism, the immune system, liver function, or kidney function.
The researchers call these four distinct aging types "ageotypes." The ideas it that you can learn a lot about your own health and how to take steps to slow aging by knowing what ageotype you are.
But before you run to the doctor to find out your ageotype, there are a few points to understand...
First, the study only ran over two years and followed just 43 people. The measurements were extensive. It was the first study to do such in-depth testing occurred in the same participants over a two-year period. Still, to get an even better picture on aging, we'd prefer to see a longer study period.
Second, some of the individuals had multiple aging types. So they could show aging biomarkers in their metabolism and their kidneys, for instance. That means it's not so cut-and-dry as "this your type."
Finally, the real takeaway here is that some participants were able to reverse their rates of aging. In other words, near the end of the study, some folks had less aging biomarkers than they did at the start.
The reason: Lifestyle changes.
For example, folks in the metabolic type saw changes after they lost weight and made some dietary changes. I recommend these lifestyle changes no matter how you feel – maintaining a healthy weight and eating healthy, whole foods are two great ways to feel young no matter what.
Personally, I'm not so sure it's that simple... I think we all age in different ways, but we do know some evidence-based methods for slowing the aging process. So if you want to feel younger and healthier, try out these three additional tips...
1. Start meditating. I know I talk about meditation often, but the reason is a good one: it does a great job of lowering stress.
Stress is the leading cause of aging – it wears down our cells on a molecular level. We've written before about the telomere caps on the ends of your DNA. The longer they are, the longer your cells will be young and healthy. But stress makes them shrink prematurely.
And stress isn't just from mental load. Stress can be a physical result of inflammation. Chronic inflammation stresses our immune system, our metabolic system, and more. It can also lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, and other diseases.
Getting a handle on your stress mentally is the first step. Try meditating for just a few minutes a day to start, then work your way up. I like to meditate for about 20 minutes at a time for a few sessions a week.
2. Get moving. As I always say, if you're moving, you're alive. Research on how exercise improves levels of something called NAD+ suggests moving may be the key to keeping you alive.
NAD+ is a compound that plays important roles in our bodies. It protects our DNA, which degrades over time from things like mutations and chronic inflammation. It also plays a role in energy consumption in our cells – early studies show that it helps transport electrons, which are needed to make and move energy units called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Some research shows that mice that were given the precursor molecule to NAD+ acted younger and more energetic.
The thing is, exercise is a great way to stimulate the production of NAD+ naturally. According to a study in Cell Metabolism, exercise stimulates our skeletal muscles to produce more ATP. That means we create more NAD+ to do the job.
This is a great reason to get up and start moving more. Try going for a walk after a big meal and add in some high-intensity interval training (HIIT) routines for a great workout. You can learn more about HIIT right here.
3. Eat more vitamin B3 rich foods. Another way to boost your NAD+ levels is with the vitamin B3. Your body makes NAD+ from B3, so getting enough in your diet is a good way to increase your energy and feel younger.
Good sources of B3 include eggs, chicken, tuna, salmon, peanuts, avocado, and whole wheat.
But B3 isn't the only nutrient to think about. Antioxidants fight off damaging molecules called free radicals. They protect your heart, reduce inflammation, and slow aging. I love blueberries for their high amounts of antioxidants, but you can get them from other fruits and vegetables, too.
We all want to feel younger and turn the clock back on aging. That's why taking steps that we know will help protect our bodies and reverse the damage that contributes to aging is so important. Diet, weight management, lowering stress, exercise, and eating right all do just that. Start making these changes today and let me know how you're feeling: [email protected].
What We're Reading...
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
January 16, 2020