Anti-aging, a term once reserved for the contents of our mother’s medicine cabinets, has become somewhat of an obsession for women of all ages, with girls as young as 20 now slathering on the retinol. And, we’re not just seeking answers over the counter – everything from human placenta (apparently J. Lo is a fan) to bird poop has been employed in our efforts to stave off the inevitable onset of crows feet and laugh lines. However, a landmark study conducted by the University of California and published in the medical journal Lancet Oncology suggests that the key to holding onto that baby face isn’t found in the bottom of a jar (or on the hood of your car), it's in your refrigerator and on your yoga mat.
The study, led by Dr. Dean Ornish of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, followed 35 men with prostate cancer who agreed to have their chromosomes scrutinized over the course of five years. 25 of the 35 participants in the study underwent a series of lifestyle changes: switching to a whole-food, plant-based diet; participating in yoga-based relaxation and stress management; and attending weekly support groups. The other ten men did not make any changes to their lifestyle.
The purpose of the study was to examine whether changing lifestyle behaviors alone could influence the length of participants’ telomeres — the part of the chromosome linked to aging and disease. Telomeres occupy the ends of your genetic code, acting like a sort of insulation to all the DNA you need. When they grow shorter, the genes you need are more "exposed" and you're more likely to get genetic mutations that lead to cancer. Among the men who underwent the lifestyle changes, telomere length increased by an average of 10% over the five years. In contrast, the telomeres of the men in the control group shortened by 3%.
"It's not the fountain of youth, but it certainly is a step in the right direction.” Ornish said, “Until now we thought that only telomeres could get shorter. Now we found that they actually can get longer." Clearly adopting a lifestyle rich in good food with a healthy side of om is going to produce benefits on the surface, if nothing else. So, these findings are significant in that they indicate we actually have some control over our health at the cellular level.
As Ornish stated: “Our genes, and our telomeres, are a predisposition, but they are not necessarily our fate.” Which is great news considering a salad is a lot more appetizing and easier to come by than freeze-dried placenta...shudder. (The Independent)
Photo: Via The Independent.