Stress can increase your biological age. How to reverse it

Stress can increase your biological age.  How to reverse it

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Experts say stress can take a toll on your physical and mental health. Marcello/Stocksy
  • Stress can temporarily change our biological age, but the process reverses when the stressor is resolved, according to a new study.
  • Stress can result from emotional distress, illness, drug treatment, environmental exposure, or lifestyle changes.
  • Chronic stress occurs when the body remains alert, even after the stress has subsided.

Biological age can increase when people are under stress, but can be reversed when tension eases, according to a study published today in cellular metabolism.

Researchers used DNA methylation clocks to measure and annotate changes in biological age as it responds to stress in humans and mice.

methylation it is a chemical reaction in the body in which a molecule is added to DNA, proteins or other molecules. Changes due to methylation can affect the risk of certain diseases.

In one experiment, scientists performed heterochronic parabiosis a surgical procedure that linked pairs of 3- and 20-month-old mice to share a common circulation.

The researchers said that the biological age of the younger mice could increase relatively quickly due to heterochronic parabiosis, a stressful situation. However, after the mice were separated, the younger mice’s biological age was restored.

Based on that information, the researchers hypothesized that naturally occurring periods of physical or emotional strain would have the same reaction, triggering reversible changes in biological age.

Scientists have looked at periods of trauma in humans, such as emergency surgery, postpartum recovery and recovery from COVID-19.

After the emergency surgery, they noted that the increase in biological age was reversed to baseline within days of the procedure. The same was true for postpartum recovery, although women experienced recovery at varying speeds. For COVID-19, immunosuppressant drugs have improved body clock recovery.

The researchers noted that in both animal models and humans, biological age could change based on the following:

  • illness
  • Pharmacological treatment
  • lifestyle changes
  • environmental exposures

They said the study findings indicate that biological age could be fluid, fluctuating and malleable ideas that challenge traditional thinking that age moves in only one direction.

The findings imply that severe stress increases mortality, at least in part, by increasing biological age, said Vadim Gladyshev, Ph.D. a senior author of the study, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of redox medicine at Brigham. and Women’s Hospital of Boston, in a press release.

This notion immediately suggests that mortality can be reduced by reducing biological age and that the ability to recover from stress may be a major determinant of successful aging and longevity. Finally, biological age may be a useful measure of physiological stress and its relief, he added.

When faced with a stressor, real or perceived, there’s a fight-or-flight reaction, according to Harvard Health.

The brain sends signals and the body reacts by preparing to fight the threat or flee from it.

Some bodily reactions include:

  • Heart rate and blood pressure increase
  • Breathing quickens
  • The pain response subsides
  • The pupils dilate
  • Awareness and observation increase
  • Adrenaline is pumped through your body giving you extra energy and strength

The body produces cortisol to help with sustained readiness to deal with a threat.

The fight-or-flight response is a psychological reaction when we’re experiencing something mentally or physically dangerous or terrifying, said Babita Spinelli, LP, a psychotherapist and workplace mental health counselor in private practice. It is triggered by a release of hormones created to deal with the danger one is facing or flee from it.

In other words, the fight-or-flight response is a reaction to an experience or event that is perceived as stressful, frightening, or traumatic, Spinelli said. Medical News Today. It triggers a response in one’s nervous system and triggers extreme stress that induces fight or flight.

Although this behavior is designed to survive a situation that seems dangerous and can be useful [short-term], a continuous and unaddressed flight or fight can create a negative physical reaction in the body, Spinelli added. Everything is temporarily stopped while flying or in combat. If an individual is constantly on the run or fighting, this can create chronic stress that contributes to brain changes, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, high blood pressure, physical problems, and illness.

Chronic stress occurs when people cannot slow their reaction to stress or stay alert, even after the stressor has passed.

High cortisol levels for an extended time can cause the following:

  • Increased appetite and accumulation of fatty tissue
  • Hypertension
  • Stress on the heart and lungs
  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Muscle tension
  • Heachache

All of this can take a toll on your body and your health. The current study concludes that it can also take time out of your life.

I’ve found that stress increases biological age and can be positively impacted or restored by incorporating a healthy mental and physical lifestyle, Spinelli said. Paying attention to your mindset is also extremely powerful in reducing stress which ultimately has a positive impact on the body.

Experiences such as trauma and other major life stressors affect the experience of age. Trauma takes a toll on mental and physical health, Spinelli continued. The toll of illnesses, surgeries, and other traumatic experiences impact how one feels and how a person navigates life regardless of age. Individuals in their twenties may feel older when faced with challenges and difficulties. If an individual doesn’t make room to recover and work through those traumas, they physically recover and accelerate the aging process. However, through restoration, which I view as giving and applying active attention to recovery, both physical and mental, there are reversals in the biological aging process. Harnessing healthy habits in one’s life helps an individual manage and take control of stress instead of driving it.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)just 10 minutes of daily activity can help reduce stress.

They suggest the following activities:

Exercise Being active can improve emotional well-being. Getting up and dancing, moving or stretching for ten minutes can help.

Practice deep breathing Try sitting with your eyes closed and breathe deeply. She slowly releases her breath and repeat ten times.

Meditate A simple meditation is to sit in silence for 10 minutes and focus on your breathing. Pay attention to how each breath feels as you inhale and exhale. When you find your thoughts wandering, bring them back to your breath.

Practice gratitude Every day, write down three to five things you are grateful for. As you continue to do this, you may become more positive throughout the day and continually seek out what makes you happy.

Be social Spend time hanging out and laughing with friends. Building relationships provides a sense of belonging and can give meaning to life.

Listening to music Create a playlist of music you like, sit back, close your eyes and listen.

Take care of your body Exercising, eating well, limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking or using tobacco products are the keys to a healthy life.

Many people use yoga to reduce stress in their lives.

Aside from the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is how it helps a person manage stress, says the American Osteopathic Association.

Yoga is a practice for the whole being, not just the physical container we’re in, said Allison Benzaken, certified yoga instructor at Dew Yoga. Medical News Today.

Yoga too influences the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve helps flip the switch on one’s nervous system from a sympathetic fight-or-flight response to a parasympathetic rest-and-digest response, leading to stress reduction.

One study found that women who completed 12 yoga sessions showed a reduction in stress, anxiety and depression. The researchers noted that, when used as a complementary medicine, it could reduce the cost of treatment and the use of medications to reduce symptoms.

What sets yoga apart from other fitness modalities is the mind-body connection, which is initiated through intentional and specific breathing techniques, said Montana Mitchell, a master trainer at YogaSix. These breathing techniques, also known as pranayama, activate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digestion) and lower the resting heart rate. Breath is the root of yoga.

In recent years, more and more medical professionals and scientists are focusing on the benefits of mind-body connections, which examine how our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes can positively or negatively affect physical health, according to the University of Minnesota.

The mind-body connection is powerful, Spinelli said. The body keeps score and chronic stress will wear down the body and cause premature aging.

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