The Effects of Exercise, Nutrition, and Sleep on Aging Monday, June 20th, 2016
Advancements in medical science have resulted in a significant increase of life expectancies across all regions in the world. But now, scientists are studying the possibility of arresting aging even further and extending life with the help of approaches like calorie restriction, body parts cloning, biomechatronics, nanotechnology, and even actual drugs.
In winter of 2016, a clinical trial on the diabetes drug metformin will be conducted in the U.S. to find out it can extend the life of humans, as the drug has previously shown to be beneficial to animals like worms and mice. In earlier studies, the drug was able to extend the life of mice by 40 percent, in addition to keeping their bodies healthier.
While we wait for the result of this exciting study and many others being done by scientists around the world, we can count on the traditional wisdom of maintaining our youth through regular exercise, proper nutrition, and getting enough sleep. But how do these practices actually benefit us in terms of delaying aging? Here’s a short review of the scientific principles behind them.
Don’t discount the great benefits of exercise to your body. It is believed that the physiological mechanisms that create the anti-aging benefits of calorie restriction and metformin also happen when you exercise regularly. Age-related cellular damage is more pronounced in people who don’t exercise as opposed to those who do, so exercise is really important, especially for people who are not yet in their 60s.
In past studies, regular exercise has also been shown to decrease people’s risk for major health problems like high blood pressure and coronary heart disease, and that is even when other factors like smoking, alcohol consumption, and bad diet were taken into account. So for instance, people who smoked and exercised are generally healthier than people who just smoked but lived a sedentary lifestyle.
Good nutrition, of course, is essential to preserving your body’s health. Eating the right kinds of food items allows your body to receive the nutrients it needs to create energy, which in turn, will be used by your body to create the building blocks of your cells, tissues, and organ. So, just imagine if you’re deprived of essential nutrients because you eat a very limited range of food items, or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, if you consume too much of nutrients like sugar and fats.
Your health will suffer, and you’ll be at risk of developing serious health conditions or disabilities. Furthermore, it has been shown that poor nutrition also accelerates the onset of cellular aging, meaning you’ll not only feel older but also look older than your real biological age.
Many people today consider sleep as a waste of time, so they end up not getting enough of it. However, sleep has tremendous effect on people’s health and in preservation of one’s youth. In particular, sleep deprivation negatively affects your body’s hormones, the substances produced by the glands that act as messengers telling your tissues and organs what to do. For instance, sleep deprivation can cause levels of the “satiety hormone” leptin to decrease, while those of the “hunger hormone” ghrelin increases. The result? Your appetite can intensify, causing you to overeat and gain weight.
Beyond simpler physiological processes like appetite, lack of sleep is also a factor in increased risk for heart diseases, heart attack, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It also impairs your mental and cognitive capacity, decreases your sex drive, and makes you physically look dull and prematurely aged.
Of course, hormonal imbalances can also be caused by existing medical conditions and aging itself, so it is also important to discuss possible medical remediation procedures with your doctor. For instance, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy can help bring your hormone levels back to equilibrium, allowing you to enjoy a better quality of life and more youthful vigor.
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