Let’s face it, we are all going to age. How we age is the question? Many factors contribute to aging, including genetics, illness, stress and lifestyle. Genetics can’t be changed, but there are modifiable lifestyle factors that we are in control of. New research from the Mayo Clinic found that poor diet and lack of exercise can accelerate aging. In the study, the researchers looked at senescent cells. Senescent cells are the cells that contribute to diseases and conditions associated with age. The researchers found “that exercise prevents premature senescent cell accumulation and protects against the damaging effects of an unhealthy diet, including deficiencies in physical, heart and metabolic function, equivalent to diabetes.” The lead author of the study, Nathan LeBrasseur, PH.D, states that “poor nutrition choices and inactive lifestyles do accelerate aging…and people need to remember that even though you don’t have the diagnosis of diabetes or the diagnosis of heart disease today when you’re in midlife, the biology underlying those processes is hard at work.” Furthermore, the study went on to show that mice that were given healthy and unhealthy diets benefited from exercise. So even the mice that were given a ‘fast food diet’ showed suppression in body weight gain and also had lower senescent cells when allowed to exercise.
Everyone is looking for the ‘Fountain of Youth,’ but it likely doesn’t exist. But what is tangible and achievable is that we can create our ‘Fountain of Youth’ by making habitual choices to eat healthy and exercise regularly. While we cannot stop the aging process altogether, it is within our control to reduce our risk of illness in our senior years. It’s never too late to start on a healthy lifestyle course of healthy eating and exercise, so get moving this Move It Monday.