We’re at the dawn of a new age for healthy human aging. Recently, scientists have made astounding insights into how to turn back the clock on declining health, sagging muscles and fading brain power.
Some of the new knowledge builds on what we have known for a while — that what you eat, how you sleep, your level of physical activity and your lifestyle habits all have the power to make your body and brain old before its time or to make your biological age a lot younger than your chronological age. But the latest science delivers some booster shots (don’t worry, no needles involved) that can super-power your life-enhancing efforts.
One area of research into the mechanisms of aging is called induced tissue regeneration, or ITR. What is ITR? It’s a process of using drugs to reset your cells back to their immature stem cell stage so they can become, for example, brown fat cells, increasing your metabolic rate and defeating obesity, or so they can help renew body tissue, brain cells and neurological functions.
One of the newcomers to this field is Calico Labs, Google’s mostly under-the-radar division that’s devoted to anti-aging research and development. They explore things like how cells (in yeast) age and have untangled what happens to muscle stem cells over time that causes a decline in lean muscle mass and loss of muscle cells’ regenerative powers.
Recently, they developed an experimental drug — an integrated stress response inhibitor, or ISRIB — that dramatically reverses age-related decline in memory and mental flexibility in mice. The researchers say the drug’s extremely rapid effects show that a significant component of age-related cognitive losses may be caused by a kind of reversible “blockage,” not an irreversible erosion of ability.
A couple more anti-aging breakthroughs from other researchers are worth noting too:
A study in Plos Biology reveals that the aging brain is being cheated out of sufficient oxygen as a protein that helps red blood cells deliver the needed fuel declines. In lab mice, boosting the protein improves cognition and memory. To us it sounds like a huge endorsement for getting a lot of blood-pumping exercise as you age: at least 300 minutes a week.
Researchers have sounded the alarm about “inflammaging” — a contraction of “inflammation” and “aging” — especially in the pituitary gland. Located at the base of your brain, this gland tells other glands to release hormones and affects your brain, skin, energy, mood, reproductive organs, vision, growth and more. But inflammaging prevents the pituitary gland’s cells from regenerating. So, you guessed it, tamp down the inflammation, and you may unleash the gland to do its keeping-you-younger good works. An anti-inflammatory plant-based diet, plenty of exercise and anti-inflammatory drugs might slow down pituitary aging or rejuvenate the gland.
There’s more: Dr. Michael West has investigated the latest research on aging. He says blueberries are a storehouse of brain-protecting nutrients, especially anthocyanins. This flavonoid helps protect you from cardiovascular disease and Type-2 diabetes, promotes weight maintenance and provides neuroprotection. Anthocyanins are also found in other foods that are red, blue, purple or black.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.
(c)2021 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.