The fountain of youth has been written about and sought out for over 2,500 years. It’s unlikely that we’re going to stumble upon the mythological fountain any day soon now.
However, modern technology is rapidly approaching the ability to Slow down or even reverse Aging. And until we get there, modern science is already pretty clear on exactly what causes aging and what we can do immediately to slow it down.
For instance, here’s a recent study (conducted on blackbirds) that deals directly with this question and comes to the same answer that pretty much all other studies are getting:
Repeated stressors in adulthood increase the rate of biological aging.
Stress Makes You Age Faster
In this study, researchers took a group of blackbirds and exposed them to varying levels of environmental stress over the course of a year. (The types of stress ranged from making the birds slightly sick, to chasing them around the facility, to putting them in an enclosure for an hour. Admittedly, it doesn’t sound like the most humane study ever conducted on an animal.)
One group of birds got none of these stressors, while the other group received these stressors continuously for a year.
At the end of the study, the birds that had been stressed for the year had (a) significantly shorter telomere lengths and (b) significantly higher circulating levels of Oxidative Damage. Without going into too much detail, oxidate damage is what happens when free radicals damage DNA, fats, and proteins, and telomere shortening means that certain sequences DNA get shorter and shorter.
Both of these occurrences (telomere shortening and oxidative damage) are excellent physical markers of aging.
So, in other words, the birds that were stressed for a year by their environmental conditions aged significantly faster.
And here’s the kicker, there were many common stressors that were not present in the lab setting, such as too little food, predators, social competition, weather changes, etc.
What Does This Mean For You?
You’re not a blackbird, but the lesson is the same. If you want to stay young longer, you need to decrease the amount of stress in your body.
And there are many ways to achieve this, since stress is more than just mental:
1. Eat better food.
When you eat processed foods, including grains, processed sugars, and seed oils, those foods stress your body and cause it to work harder.
2. Sleep enough.
Not sleeping enough is a huge stressor for your body, and sleep is one of the few times when your body starts to recover from stress.
3. Relax and Play.
If you feel like you’re always under pressure, then try to play more and work a little less.
It’s been said a thousand times, but it’s one of the most surefire ways to decrease mental stress.
5. Move More But Don’t Over-Exercise.
Exercise is a “good” stress, and humans do well if we’re moving often. But we don’t do well by doing 2 hours of cardio per day.
Obviously, there isn’t a single answer, and you can’t prevent all stress (nor would you want to). However, in addition to slowing aging, reducing your stress load will also make you both healthier and happier.
Images: Copyright (c) Photocreo Bednarek from Fotolia
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