If you’ve spent your 30s and 40s treating your body like an amusement park instead of a temple, is it possible to slow down the ageing process now you’re in your 50s?
The good news is yes. However, it’s not as easy as simply applying expensive face creams, it takes a focused, full holistic approach to reverse the ageing process.
Let’s start with the easy one first – or perhaps this is not so easy for some. Sleep is often the forgotten or neglected piece in the puzzle when it comes to a person’s health or wellbeing. Sleeping is where your body is putting in the work, by creating new cells, building and repairing itself. And no you’re not being lazy when you want to have a sleep in or go to bed early. A good night’s sleep is one of the kindest things you can do for yourself.
Your Stage 4 REM cycle sleep is where all the miracles of anti-ageing take place. Make no mistake, without good sleep everything else is pointless. The theory promoting only a few hours sleep each night has been completely debunked by clinic trials and science. We suggest getting eight hours of sleep to give your body the best possible chance to excel and thrive. If this isn’t possible, as close to 8 hours as you can.
Getting a good night’s sleep is difficult for many people though, so how can you improve the quality of your sleep? This is where diet and exercise comes in – it’s all linked.
Stress hormones can negatively affect almost every system in your body. These include your central nervous system, your cardiovascular system, your immune system and your digestive system. If one of these are compromised, it prevents you from performing at your peak, and sets you up for a slippery downward slope.
One of your body’s major stress responses is to increase its cortisol production. Having too much cortisol leads to rapid weight gain, high blood pressure, muscle weakness, mood swings and negative changes to the skin. Meditation and exercise play a huge role in dealing with stress – put these on your to-do list.
Whilst daytime exercise, especially outdoors in sunlight, can help optimise your circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion to help with a good night’s sleep, our muscles are the most powerful anti-aging treatment we have.
Skeletal muscle makes up 40% of the total muscle mass in the average human. The rest is smooth muscle in the gut and blood vessels and cardiac muscle in the heart. Skeletal muscle helps us stand upright, walk, run and move our limbs, breathe and generally lead active lives. It is essential to healthy ageing to have sufficient muscle mass to be able to get out of a chair and move independently – which is pretty important if you want to lead an active life.
After age 40, skeletal muscle mass and strength decreases by about 3% per year. This has profound implications not just for moving around and lifting things as we age. Age related muscle loss leads to insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, abnormal blood lipids, hypertension and weight gain. This collection of diseases is collectively called ‘metabolic syndrome’ and is often seen as an accepted part of normal ageing.
As we age and lose muscle mass, we reduce our ability to use glucose in muscle. This results in glucose accumulation, fatty liver, insulin resistance and other symptoms of the ‘metabolic syndrome’. This means that maintaining a large mass of healthy skeletal muscle will regulate our metabolism as we age and will also allow us to use more glucose and avoid storage as fat.
On a positive note, any form of exercise that uses muscle, either resistance training or running/cardio reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
Our health and performance is completely dependent upon how efficiently our cells, organs and tissue communicate with each other. Our body’s ability to constantly sense, adapt, and correct changes in pH, temperature, energy status and toxin exposure, which is essential for our overall health, is all due to cell signalling.
Certain lifestyle factors can negatively affect proper cell signaling. These include an unhealthy diet, a lack of exercise, environmental factors, exposure to toxins and the normal aging process. However, recent research has shown that living a healthy lifestyle along with a number of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients can support cell signaling pathways.
Eating a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other healthy fats can help our body’s cell-signaling pathways, as these are needed to maintain the shape of our cells. Specific nutrients can also help cells communicate better, defend what needs protection, restore what is exhausted or damaged, and enhance our metabolic fitness. These nutrients include B vitamins, N-Acetylcysteine, Vitamin D, minerals like magnesium and zinc and a rich assortment of micronutrients found in select plant foods.
Boost your brain
Enhancing brain function can mean decreasing mental fatigue, improving focus, boosting memory skills and reaction time, and overall feeling more alert. How exactly does this work……? The brain is constantly regenerating new brain cells, and the regeneration may be optimised by nootropics. You might be thinking that a brain boost just means improving memory and evaporating brain fog, but the brain affects so many areas of health and wellbeing, which means nootropics have a lot more benefits than just boosting focus.
Nootropics may sound intimidating — but they’re actually herbs, foods, and supplements that enhance brain power (like memory, function, etc.), and have protective benefits (keeping your brain sharp and functioning at an optimal level). While the trend is popping up in supplement form, there are more than 100 various substances that can fall under the nootropics umbrella. Many of these are food-derived ingredients that you’ve probably heard of including omega-3s (say hi to walnuts!) and flavonoids (a molecule in foods like blueberries and green tea).
As a supplement, they have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries as a way to optimise brain function and a pill that boosts human intelligence — sounds like science-fiction, doesn’t it! Most of us have watched the film Limitless where Limitless pills take the concept to the next level. But there’s a lot more science than fiction to nootropics.
Improve your ‘healthspan’
As we age the body cycling of cells starts to slow down meaning muscles start to naturally waste, bone density reduces, cognitive functionality slows, and those niggling injuries start to appear more often. After the age of 30 ageing starts to take control and rapidly increases and the years stack-up, marking the shortening of your healthy lifespan.
As cells age, they become larger and less capable of reproduction, undergoing changes that eventually result in the loss of cellular identity. Our cellular repair process is complex, requiring efficient cell signalling and cellular metabolism. Cellular metabolism is regulated by peptides, hormones, enzymes, and their various transport systems.
As our bodies age, we can’t recover from and repair injuries as quickly as we used to, and in some cases not at all. One of the underlying reasons for this is that our hormones, neurotransmitters and signalling peptides also start to deplete. When we essentially look through the lens at a cellular level, we can understand the motivations of our cells and uncover an alternative roadmap to how they are programmed.
Think of a peptide as a light switch – turning on certain mechanisms in the body that had previously laid dormant. When it comes to biohacking to improve our healthspan, peptides are playing an increasingly important role in this space. Peptides are small proteins made up of amino acid sequences. The proteins that we get from our diet are usually larger and made up of one or more polypeptide molecules. Peptides are so important for our body that they are broken down by specific gastric enzymes into smaller peptides. The smaller peptides, with distinct amino acid sequences, have different functions in our body, from healing to hormonal regulation, sleep, energy, neurological function and longevity.
Most peptides have multiple benefits as they regulate the activity of particular molecules, therefore influencing certain functions. Each of these functions has its own peptide bioregulator. When these bioregulators are active, cells, tissues and organs can regenerate faster. For example, the Growth Hormone Releasing Peptide (GHRP) reduces body fat, increases lean muscle mass, improves cellular repair and skin health, and supports improved sleep cycles. IGF-LR3, or ‘Insulin-like Growth Factor – 1 Long Arg3’ responds to signals from growth hormone (GH) and is the most potent growth factor in the human body. It is well known for rapid fat loss, anti-ageing, recovery speed, improved muscle performance and muscle mass and improved sleep cycles.
Our cells must be supplied with the nutrients and building blocks for energy production and proper signaling, be protected from damage by excessive stress and have the necessary support for repair and regeneration. However, there is no singular approach and this is where biohacking comes in – thinking of the body as a system. Everything can change an outcome from what you are eating, to the soil your fruits and vegetables were grown in, the light you’re exposed to, levels of pollution you’re exposed to and the amount of sleep you have – or don’t have.
In summary, these six areas are critical to get right as your framework to reversing the aging process. Eating right, reducing your stress levels, regular exercise, quality sleep, brain function and improved cellular health are all scientifically proven to improve long-term health, plus you will look and feel amazing!
About the author:
Ted McGill is co-founder of BIOV8, a leading peptides supplier.
For more information on BIOV8, you can visit here.