We’ve all come across people who look much older than their years, defying rational logic. A 40-year-old that looks 60 isn’t impossible, but neither is a 60-year-old that looks 40.
It turns out that your epigenetic age determines not only how quickly you grow old, but your overall longevity, more so than traditional risk factors.
Epigenetic changes will turn cells on and off, affecting how they behave – and yes – even how they age. It isn’t the number of years we’ve been on this planet that will determine how gracefully we grow older, but the environmental signals that we send our cells.
Let’s look at what ages us more quickly, first:
- A little too much time in the sun. Spending time in the sun helps our bodies make Vitamin D and can even keep depression at bay, but too much sun exposure can make our skin age faster than the rest of us. The sun’s radiation can cause the abnormal division of cells, making our skin look tough, hard and wrinkled – in other words – old before its time.
- Sugar consumption is a killer. When you have a habit of eating refined sugar, it causes a process called glycation. This process damages the skin’s cells and causes fine lines and wrinkles. It also causes skin to sag and lose elasticity. By limiting sugar consumption, you not only prevent a whole series of physiological changes that cause mood swings, and memory loss, but you also simply look younger.
- Stress. Stress causes changes in DNA methylation. According to one study, “During stressful situations, we produce steroid hormones called glucocorticoids that affect many systems throughout the body. These effects are mediated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, a network involving the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain and the adrenal glands near the kidneys.” Glucocorticoids affect gene expression, especially in the brain.
- Depression. This is kind of a no-brainer, but depression also ages us faster. People who suffer from chronic depression are more likely to make choices that further alter their genes, too, such as not getting enough sleep, eating poorly, and neglecting their mental and personal hygiene. Chronic depression may even cause epigenetic changes to the basic brain structure. However, by dealing with depression and finding ways to be happier, you’ll look and feel younger.
- Smoking and excessive alcohol consumption. These habits also turn off key cell communication, and reduce your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Did you know, for example, that smokers have around 60% lower Vitamin C levels in their bodies – a key vitamin that helps us to stay looking and feeling young? Alcohol consumption also causes the loss of collagen and dehydrates you, while also damaging the liver. The liver is one of the most important detoxification organs in the body. Epigenetically, those who come from an alcoholic family are even more at risk for quicker aging – but you can turn it all around by simply changing your habits now.
- Lack of exercise. It’s pretty obvious that the lack of exercise promotes the advancement of certain age-related diseases, but one study even found that exercise and a healthy diet reduced the expression and accumulation of senescent cells – a cellular state that is linked to cellular disorders and age-related disease. LeBrasseur who conducted a study on mice argues that,
“Some of us believe that aging is just something that happens to all of us and it’s just a predestined fate, and by the time I turn 65 or 70 or 80, I will have Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. And this clearly shows the importance of modifiable factors so healthy diet, and even more so, just the importance of regular physical activity. So, that doesn’t mean that we need to be marathon runners, but we need to find ways to increase our habitual activity levels to stay healthy and prevent processes that drive aging and aging-related diseases.”
- Your mental hygiene. People who act young, age slower. If you act old before your time, you will make choices that cause you to age more quickly.
So how do all of these choices add up to change your DNA?
Researchers in a recent study found that individuals tested differently for epigenetic age. They discovered that different cell types—even similar ones like various blood cell types—have different epigenetic patterns.
As people get older, the mix of immune cells in their blood shifts. When these age-related changes to blood cell composition were factored in, the researchers’ epigenetic age model predicted mortality from all causes better than previous measures of epigenetic age. The relationship between epigenetic age and mortality was significant within both sexes and across all the ethnic groups in the study.
As Dr. Brian Chen, the lead scientist of the study concluded,
“Our findings show that the epigenetic clock was able to predict the lifespans of Caucasians, Hispanics, and African-Americans in these cohorts, even after adjusting for traditional risk factors like age, gender, smoking, body-mass index, and disease history.”
So how do you alter your DNA so that it ages more slowly? You eat well, You exercise. You stay positive. You lower your stress with meditation yoga, or just a good hearty laugh with friends. You treat depression with natural methods. You stay vigilant about your thoughts, and actions. You surround yourself with positive and uplifting people. You can also utilize the Soul Reprogramming Method to awaken your complete genetic potential.
You can learn more about it, here.