Can We Reverse Aging? The Astonishing Power Of The Human Mind
The human mind has always been an object of great astonishment. A tremendous amount of research has been done to understand the functioning and power of the brain. Scientists have pushed the boundaries of possibilities and have introduced us to facts that have left us flabbergasted.
In the year 1981, renowned Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer conducted one such study (subscription required). She was on a mission to test that if we could turn the clock back psychologically, could we also turn it back physically? She was going to test whether our attitude, beliefs and mindset played a role in our physical health, more specifically, in our aging process.
She invited eight men in their late 70s to live in a residential retreat for seven days. The environment was recreated to match the socio-physical environment of the year 1959. The men were asked to talk, feel and pretend as if they were living in the era when they were in their prime.
Upon arrival at the retreat, the men were asked to carry their own luggage, no matter how heavy it was. Some stooped while others used canes while walking. No assistance was provided as they entered their new home. They all went through various tests that measured their physical and mental functions, including cognition, memory, flexibility, hearing and vision.
The home had no mirrors and only contained portraits from their younger days. They were welcomed by Ed Sullivan on a black and white television. All the books and magazines were from the year 1959. The radio played oldie favorites such as Perry Como and Jack Benny. Twice a day, researchers led discussions on topics like the need for bomb shelters to protect the country against Soviet Powers, Castro’s advance in Havana, and other topics that were popular in that era.
Participants were asked to speak about all these events using the present tense as if they were living it now. They were playing out this “as if” scenario and not merely thinking about it.
As the study neared its end, participants improved in all parameters they were tested on in the beginning. The man who came in on a wheelchair walked out with a cane. Another man who couldn’t wear his socks unassisted hosted the final evening dinner party. On the second to last day, men who looked frail and weak were playing touch football on the lawn. Improvements were marked on parameters of physical strength, hearing, vision, IQ, gait, posture, dexterity, memory, decreased symptoms of arthritis and overall well-being. The intelligence score was significantly higher for 63% of the participants. Langer later said, “Wherever you put the mind, you are necessarily putting the body.”
With her study, Langer offered us the following learnings:
1. Setting the right perception of ourselves and our environment is crucial.
2. Our mindset has a much greater impact on our health and aging than we believe.
3. By changing our mindset, we can bring a lot of change to our overall well-being.
4. As we grow old, loss of memory and good health may be avoidable.
Hence we understand that our mindset and self-perception has a tremendous impact on us. As a coach with clients who face various challenges, in almost all cases, the top priority is bringing a shift in perception and creating a state of well-being.
Now the question is: How do we put the above-mentioned learning into action?
Read the whole story: Forbes
Biological Age of Humans Reversed By Years In Groundbreaking Study.
Scientists might be able to reverse process of ageing, a new study suggests.
Volunteers who were given a cocktail of drugs for a year actually “aged backwards”, losing an average of 2.5 years from their biological ages, according to the new study. The research showed that the marks on their genomes that represent their “epigenetic clock”, as well as their immune systems, actually improved despite the passing of time.
The scientists involved in the study were shocked by the results.
“I’d expected to see slowing down of the clock, but not a reversal,” researcher Steve Horvath from the University of California, Los Angeles told Nature, which first reported the findings. “That felt kind of futuristic.”
Scientists caution that the study was done with a very limited number of participants: only nine people took the drug cocktail, and there was no control group. But if it is confirmed by further research it could have huge impacts on healthcare, the treatment of disease and how people think about ageing.
In the study, participants were given a growth hormone and two diabetes medications. Scientists then monitored the test subjects’ epigenetic clocks, to understand the effect on how they aged.
The epigenetic clock is measured by the body’s epigenome – a record of chemical changes to an organism’s DNA. As people age, chemical modifications or tags are added to people’s DNA, and those change throughout their lives, so by looking at those tags a person’s biological age can be measured.
Researchers had actually intended to look at how the growth hormone would change the tissue in the thymus gland, which helps with the body’s immune functions and sits in the chest. It normally shrinks after puberty but they hoped to see whether it could be pushed to regrow, by giving participants the growth hormone.
It was only as a secondary consideration that researchers then checked how the drugs changed their epigenetic clocks. The study had finished when the analysis began.
Professor Horvath then looked at four different measures of the epigenetic clock to understand the differing ages of each of the patients. And he found that every one of them had reversed significantly – so significantly that he is optimistic about the results, despite the limited number of participants.
Scientists now hope to test the same effects with more people, through a controlled study, and with different age groups, ethnicities and with women.
The changes could still be seen in the blood of six participants who provided samples long after the study finished.
Some of the drugs used in the cocktail are already being researched as ways of fighting age-related diseases. But the discovery of the combined effect of the three of them could have major implications for the ways that a variety of different drugs are tested, scientists say.
Click Independent for full story.
Mechanisms of exercise-induced mitochondrial biogenesis in skeletal muscle
Acute exercise initiates rapid cellular signals, leading to the subsequent activation of proteins that increase gene transcription. The result is a higher level of mRNA expression, often observed during the recovery period following exercise. These molecules are translated into precursor proteins for import into preexisting mitochondria. Once inside the organelle, the protein is processed to its mature form and either activates mitochondrial DNA gene expression, serves as a single subunit enzyme, or is incorporated into multi-subunit complexes of the respiratory chain devoted to electron transport and substrate oxidation. The result of this exercise-induced sequence of events is the expansion of the mitochondrial network within muscle cells and the capacity for aerobic ATP provision. An understanding of the molecular processes involved in this complex pathway of organelle synthesis is important for therapeutic purposes, and is a primary research undertaking in laboratories involved in the study of mitochondrial biogenesis. This pathway in muscle becomes impaired with chronic inactivity and aging, which leads to a reduced muscle aerobic capacity and an increased tendency for mitochondrially mediated apoptosis, a situation that can contribute to muscle atrophy. The resumption, or adoption, of an active lifestyle can ameliorate this metabolic dysfunction, improve endurance, and help maintain muscle mass.
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Go to the National Library of Medicine for original article.