The world has seen an increase in medical advancements over the past century, which has led to the growth of the aged population. According to data from World Population Prospects: by 2050, every sixth person in the world will be over the age of 65 years (16%) and every fourth person in Europe and North America could be aged 65 years or above. Also, there will be an increase in the number of persons aged 80 years and above, from 143 million in 2019 to 426 million by 2050.1
Because of medical advancements and good healthcare, people are able to access proper medication and hence there are increased chances of people living longer. However, aging is often accompanied by age-associated diseases. Aging brings a series of health concerns and fears. In the current times of a stressful and hectic lifestyle, percentage increase in the number of age-related pathologies is a daunting concern which people have been facing for the past few decades.2
Apart from extending lifespan, it is also important that we experience a life devoid of age-associated diseases. It is important that along with extension of lifespan we are also able to slow down the process of aging to lead a happy and healthy life. However, due to our imbalanced and hectic lifestyle, we tend to miss out on some of the obvious age-reversal practices around us. These practices, if followed meticulously, can work wonders for us and help us avoid many age-associated diseases.
Here is a list of lifestyle habits which slow down aging:
Diet plays the most important role in the process of aging. Food intake affects the development of age-related pathologies such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, dementia, etc. The amount of food consumed has a major impact on the aging process, but food restriction and the intake of a balanced diet can delay many age-related diseases.
Diets high in cholesterol and trans fatty acids and low on essential vitamins and minerals adversely affect our lipid profile and are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Similarly, diets low in antioxidants and flavonoids increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases in the later stages of life such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Diets with a good amount of fruits, vegetables, and fiber help in the prevention of various types of cancer. Thus, a diet which includes wholegrain cereals, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, with a low intake of saturated fat and trans-fatty acids, and which provides an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals is beneficial in delaying many age-associated diseases.3
Supplements can help us obtain the benefits of nutrients, which we are not able to receive in sufficient quantities from our diet. From essential vitamins to beneficial plant extracts, there is a huge variety of supplements available in the market. Many of these supplements we are advised to take by our health practitioners.
Out of these varieties of supplements, certain supplements are lesser known, however, they play a significant role in the aging process. For example, fisetin—a bioactive flavonoid molecule found in fruits and vegetables such as strawberries, apples, persimmons, grapes, onions, and cucumbers—effectively helps in the elimination and reduction of senescent cells. The aging process involves the generation of senescent cells (cells that cease to divide), which is believed to be one of the reasons for aging.4 Fisetin also helps reduce oxidative stress.5
Similarly, quercetin, a flavonoid found in citrus fruits, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, grapes, green tea, etc., is also responsible for the elimination of senescent cells.6,7 It also exhibits antioxidant properties and helps lower the risk of neurological and heart diseases.5,8
Exercise impacts multiple major hallmarks of aging. Regular exercise has a range of benefits on many of our important systems. Exercise benefits the cardiovascular system by attenuating many cardiovascular conditions. Aerobic exercises of moderate intensity and exercises involving large muscle mass (e.g., brisk walking, bicycling) are able to restore endothelial function. Similarly, strength exercises have benefits on aging muscles as they help improve muscle mass and/or strength.
Apart from benefits on physical health, exercise also has benefits on neurodegeneration. Exercise attenuates physical and psychosocial dependency in patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases. Exercise helps improve oxidative stress regulation, autophagy systems, neurotrophic signaling and neurogenesis.9
Sleep is a required process for the human body that is responsible for restorative functions. Due to imbalanced and hectic lifestyles, young adults do not make it a priority to get complete and sound sleep. At the same time, elderly adults suffer from inadequate sleep as they grow older. Aging is associated with qualitative and quantitative changes in our sleep patterns. Insufficient or poor-quality sleep can lead to neurocognitive impairments and chronic health conditions with increased mortality.10,11
United Kingdom’s National Health Service spent £5.2 billion (approximately $7.5 billion) in treating smoking-related health conditions in 2005-2006. Smoking, one of the most injurious habits, not only affects our respiratory system, but also increases the risk of developing a number of other diseases. Apart from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), smoking also leads to coronary heart disease, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease.12
Similarly, consumption of alcohol can have deleterious effects on our health. Regular alcohol consumption not only impacts our liver, but it can lead to development of cancer, immune system disorders, and brain damage. At the same time, it can aggravate already existing health problems such as diabetes and high blood pressure. Alcohol consumption also affects our mood and memory function, thus making us vulnerable to many age-associated pathologies.13
It is necessary that we adopt many of these age reversal practices in our everyday life early on, as they will prevent us from many serious pathologies as we grow older.