Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer
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Too often the ageing process is viewed in fatalistic terms – people simply resign to the poor health outcomes that often come with age. However, you can actually reverse your biological age, according to Peter Ward, CEO and Co-Founder of Humanity, an app launching this summer that aims to help users to optimise and engineer positive health outcomes as they age. “Ageing is the leading cause of disease in the UK (and the whole world), and while chronological ageing (time since birth) is inevitable, biological ageing (your functional age) is not,” he explained.
So, how can you reverse your biological age?
Firstly, you should keep moving.
Mr Ward explained: “There is no denying that exercise is good for our bodies and minds, while keeping our hearts healthy as it pumps blood around the body.”
He cited a study published in the journal Metabolism that found exercise – and in particular high-intensity interval training in aerobic exercises such as biking and walking – caused cells to make more proteins for their energy.
This is significant because protein production can slow and prevent ageing at a cellular level, Mr Ward reported.
Secondly, you should consume “age-defying superfoods”, advised Mr Ward.
He explained: “We hear about super-foods all the time, and the overarching health benefits of eating a rainbow diet and reducing your meat intake are well documented, and as a result, they could help extend your healthspan (years of healthy fully functional life) and lifespan.”
Are there specific foods that can support the ageing process?
Mr Ward drew attention to a review published in the journal Elsevier that explored the literature on fermented foods ability delay ageing and increase lifespan.
The review cited a number of studies that highlighted a reported a series of anti-aging related benefits from consuming fermented foods.
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“Not only do they contain anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-carcinogenic and anti-allergenic properties, but they may also have anti-ageing properties which could help protect against age-related disease and even death,” reported Mr Ward.
Forging healthy relationships is also conducive to longevity.
“As humans, we’re innately social beings and relationships – both romantic and non-romantic – give us a purpose and a place to exchange critical interactions that can have a positive impact on our ageing,” explained Mr Ward.
He cited research published in Harvard Health that shows successful relationships with partners, family and the community may have a direct impact on your health and lifespan.
“After more than a year of isolation, it’s really important that we prioritise social interactions and work on re-strengthening our relationships, even when we don’t really feel like it,” Mr Ward added.
“The worst thing you can do when trying to improve general health and longevity is neglect recovery, as it can cause excess levels of fatigue or injury,” Mr Ward explained.
As he explained, sleep and mindfulness are both vital ways to recharge and recover.
Mr Ward cited research that demonstrates “a good night of high-quality sleep can improve your body’s immune system and fuel the restoration and repair of cells, tissues and organs – supporting longevity and slowing your biological age”.
Mr Ward added: “Ideally, many people should get seven to eight hours of sleep each night, but it’s not just about the amount of time – quality of sleep plays an equally vital role.”
Finally, hit that sweet spot when it comes to stress.
Mr Ward explained: “Stress has a bad reputation and, in most cases, this is well-deserved. But stress also comes in all forms of shapes and sizes – from exercising your muscles to deadlines at work.”
According to Mr Ward, while prolonged heavy stress can shorten your life and is associated with many health problems, a small amount of “good” stress is actually beneficial, and may even help you live longer.
He pointed to research published in the journal Nature that illustrates the “stress-response pathways” actually ensure the survival of organisms under changing environmental conditions.
“It helps the body and mind harness reactions, but just like anything else, it’s important to understand your own body and reactions to stress.”
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