Stress makes you age, science has proven it. But the real piece of news is another, namely that it is possible to reverse this process, turn back the hands of time and rejuvenate. How? The answer comes from a very recent scientific research that appeared in Cell Metabolism magazine thanks to the work of an American team from Harvard Medical School (Poganik et al, Cell Metabolism, 2023).
Chronological age and biological age do not coincide
We were born with the idea that time always goes in only one direction and the years that increase as we celebrate our birthdays remind us of this. But this applies to the chronological age, the age that we carry with us from birth and that appears on the identity card. The biological age is different. Biological age is the true age of our body, it measures our state of health, the risk of developing diseases such as heart problems, metabolic disorders and cellular degeneration. We can have a chronological age that does not coincide with the biological one, we can be younger or older than what our identity card says. Biological age is influenced by various factors, such as lifestyle, whether active or sedentary, stress, diet, medicine intake and any diseases we may have. And then there is another fact, which we can define as extraordinary for its consequences, and that is that biological age, as mentioned in the introduction to this paragraph, can also go not only forward, but also backwards, making us, in fact, rejuvenate.
Stress makes you age but here's how to reverse the process, the study
Previous studies had already had the opportunity to show that some factors, such as stress, can accelerate aging and add years to our biological age. However, nothing was known about the possibility of a possible rejuvenation. The research we are talking about today sheds light on this aspect. Scientists have started a series of studies on humans and mice by evaluating their biological age following periods of great stress, such as surgery, pregnancy, but also infections, such as COVID 19. The biological age was evaluated by analyzing mutations of the DNA that occur throughout life. The study showed that biological age increases in response to these conditions of high stress and that it does so in a short time, we are talking about days or at most months. However, the study also showed that this aging is temporary and that it is possible to lose the accumulated biological years thanks to periods of rest from stress.
Stress taken to high levels and continuously causes aging and this increases inflammation, free radicals, weakening of the immune system and thus also the risk of getting sick. But the news is that biological age is something fluid and malleable, which does not go in a single direction, it can certainly go forward, but also backwards, based on our lifestyle choices. We now know that moments of rest from stress are essential and that they allow the body to implement all those actions necessary to repair the damage that occurred during stress. We can do a lot to keep ourselves biologically young and keep disease at bay. Stress in life cannot be eliminated, it is part of life itself, but we can certainly try to follow a healthy and balanced diet, sleep the right number of hours, do moderate physical activity and guarantee ourselves moments of recovery, a holiday, or, even simply, moments dedicated to meditation, following the mindfulness techniques and pranayamas of yoga, which help to detach the mind from obsessive thoughts and problems, make us see events in a more detached way, help us find solutions and, as we know from today, even rejuvenate us.