Aging well and healthily, without the added years also bringing illnesses, this is everyone's desire and making it possible is also one of the aims of science. Recent research is focusing on one question in particular, namely, why do some people develop certain diseases and not others as they age? Why do some people tend to gain weight and increase the risk of developing diabetes and other people have a greater problem with their joints or blood pressure? And these questions are precisely the key that opens up a new world, which is exciting science. In fact, as it turns out, aging is not the same for everyone but there are 4 different types of aging. Understanding this allows you to act in a more targeted way, knowing your Achilles' heels and addressing them in a faster, more effective and direct way to gain health and longevity. But let's try to understand better.
The 4 different types of aging
Aging depends a lot on how we live, our habits, how we eat and whether we lead a more or less active life. And this is a known fact. However, each of us is predisposed, from a genetic point of view, to age in a certain particular way, in which some organs will tend to age faster and others more slowly. From here it seems clear that knowing this information allows us to understand how to best take care of ourselves. For scientists it has been possible to observe 4 different types of aging (Reed, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care - Navarro et al, Heliyon, 2023 - Ahadi et al, Nature Medicine, 2020). These are metabolic aging, in which as the years pass the metabolism weakens and the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disease increases, immune aging, in which the immune system functions less well and increases the risk of inflammation and infections, liver aging, with the liver aging more rapidly and an increased risk of fatty liver and liver disease, kidney aging, in which the kidneys lose efficiency and the possibility of hypertension increases. To give an example, the classic type that follows immune aging can be a 40-year-old person with a biologically older immune system, but thin and will probably remain so throughout his life, during which however he will have a greater risk of alterations in the immune system, having high inflammation and contracting infections more frequently. While the metabolic type will always have a healthy immune system but will struggle with weight gain and high blood sugar. Surely other types of aging will be added to these, as it is also likely that some people present a mix of types of aging (Reed, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care).
Understanding your type of aging
Understanding our type of aging may not be easy but an indication can come from which medicines we are taking. These certainly have a lot to say about our weaknesses and can help us act in time. Also because when one organ starts to age faster than the others, it then takes the other organs with it, such as the brain.
How to act to counteract the different types of aging
The metabolic type can benefit significantly from regular and moderate physical activity and from a healthy and balanced diet, low in added sugars, with whole foods and rich in fibre, legumes, fruit and vegetables (Reed, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care). Those with immune systems that tend to age more quickly will have to invest more effort in combating chronic inflammation. Here, help can come from omega 3 unsaturated fatty acids, with their anti-inflammatory action, useful for protecting the brain and which are found in flaxseeds, fish such as sardines and salmon and in supplements. Not only that, in these cases help also comes from extra virgin olive oil, fruit, vegetables and whole grains, trying to reduce the consumption of red meat (Grammatikopoulou et al, Maturitas, 2023 - Sheiber et al, StatPearls Publishing, 2023). Those who have kidneys as a weak point can get help from their diet, reducing the intake of animal proteins and sodium, increasing the intake of fruit and vegetables, especially from the Chicoriae family, limiting vegetables with a higher mineral salt content and oxalates, such as chard and spinach, and ensuring an adequate intake of water and fluids (Kramer et al, Adv Nutr, 2019 - Aufiero, The nutritional and therapeutic role of food).
As for the liver, you can protect it by avoiding cigarette smoking, avoiding or at least greatly limiting alcohol, practicing physical activity and including in your diet, varied and well balanced, berries, green tea, foods rich in vitamin C, K, folate, omega 3, nuts and seeds (Perdomo et al, Nutrients, 2019). As studies indicate, changing your lifestyle, losing weight if you are overweight, or making small adjustments in your diet can actually lead to a reduction in aging indicators, this means that the process by which we age is slowed down. However, this takes time and the benefits have been observed by scholars even after two years (Armitage, News Blog of Stanford Medicine).
What if I don't know my type of aging?
Research is making great strides on this topic, some types of aging have yet to be identified and it may not be easy to understand how our body works. Not to mention that, as said, some individuals may present a mix of the different types of aging. In any case, scientists agree on one thing. Movement and healthy eating represent the lifestyle that brings benefits to all types of aging (Reed, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care).