dr. Michael Mosley: How to Live Longer and Healthier With These Simple Lifestyle Changes

At 65-and-a-half years old, I’m fast approaching retirement age (for men and women of my vintage, it’s 66).

While I’m happy to continue what I’m doing (writing, making TV documentaries, and podcasts), many of my friends are retiring — and most seem content with their new, less affluent but more relaxed lives.

Of course it depends on your circumstances, but retirement clearly suits many of us. A 2016 survey of 300,000 people by the Office for National Statistics found that levels of ‘life satisfaction’ and ‘happiness’, which were lowest in people aged 45 to 59, peaked between the ages of 65 and 79. and then slowly declined.

So that’s something to look forward to if you haven’t hit 60 yet.

Your personality is also key to how much you enjoy your retirement.

In a recent survey from Kasetsart University in Thailand, more than 2,000 British retirees between the ages of 50 and 75 were asked to take a personality test and also rate their level of life satisfaction.

In a recent survey from Kasetsart University in Thailand, more than 2,000 British retirees between the ages of 50 and 75 were asked to take a personality test and also rate their level of life satisfaction.

Those rated as “conscientious” or “pleasant” enjoyed their retirement the most, while extroverts struggled. The researchers said this is likely because extroverts lack the social contact you get from working.

But enjoying your retirement also depends on sufficient money and reasonable health.

I’ve been thinking a lot about healthy aging lately as I’m currently making a TV series about super-agers — people in their 70s and 80s with the brains and bodies of those decades younger.

A 2016 survey of 300,000 people by the Office for National Statistics found that levels of 'life satisfaction' and 'happiness', which were lowest in people aged 45 to 59, peaked between ages 65 and 79. and then slowly descend

A 2016 survey of 300,000 people by the Office for National Statistics found that levels of ‘life satisfaction’ and ‘happiness’, which were lowest in people aged 45 to 59, peaked between ages 65 and 79. and then slowly descend

I’ve spent a lot of time talking to scientists about the aging process and why some people seem to age so much more slowly than others.

What’s especially fascinating is the work being done on “epigenetic” clocks: these are tests used to measure your biological age — how old your body really is, not just what’s on your passport.

The traditional view of aging is that it is caused by a slow build-up of damage at the cellular level.

Just like a car, parts of us break or wear out. The problem is, it’s hard to put a number on this.

An epigenetic clock test, on the other hand, measures so-called DNA methylation levels: the extent to which special molecules called methyl groups have clung to the DNA in your cells.

You can think of methyl groups as a bit like barnacles attaching to the hull of a ship and slowing it down.

Our methyl group levels tend to increase in a very precise way as we age. The epigenetic clock test is a powerful predictor of healthy aging and life expectancy.

In a 2016 study, researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) tested blood samples collected from more than 13,000 people before their deaths. Using the epigenetic clock test, they were able to predict their lifespan very accurately.

More recently, the same scientists showed that this epigenetic clock test can predict the biological age and life expectancy of a variety of animals, from elephants to kangaroos, rhinoceroses and goats.

dr.  Michael Mosley: I spent a lot of time talking to scientists about the aging process and why some people seem to age so much slower than others

dr. Michael Mosley: I spent a lot of time talking to scientists about the aging process and why some people seem to age so much slower than others

You can actually buy epigenetic clock tests online, but their real value lies in measuring the effectiveness of anti-aging therapies – the idea being that you would take the test before an intervention and afterward to see if it made any difference.

Although it may sound macabre, one of the most promising current anti-aging therapies is the infusion of young blood.

A 2020 study in the journal Science found that giving blood from young, active mice to old mice made the older mice smarter and more alert and led to the growth of new brain cells. In another study, recently published as a pre-print (meaning it has not yet been formally accepted by a journal), the UCLA researchers showed that this type of blood transfusion also improved grip strength in older mice and improved their heart, liver and memory. rejuvenated. Amazingly, it also halved their biological age.

Research is now underway to find out what it is in young blood that has these remarkable rejuvenating effects. But it is not yet used in humans.

Scientists are also using the epigenetic clock to test everyday drugs for anti-aging properties.

For example, research published in 2019 in the journal Cell found that taking a cocktail of common drugs could reverse people’s biological age.

In the study, nine healthy male volunteers, ages 50 to 65, took a combination of a growth hormone, metformin (commonly used in type 2 diabetes), and a drug called DHEA (a synthetic version of a hormone our bodies produce naturally that helps the production of sex hormones such as testosterone and estrogen).

After one year, not only had their biological age dropped by an average of two and a half years, but their immune systems also showed clear signs of rejuvenation. This was a small trial, so you can’t read too much into it, but a much larger study is underway now.

We won’t be guzzling anti-aging drugs or donating our young blood anytime soon, but there are some lifestyle changes that have been shown to make a difference.

In a study last year in the journal Aging, 43 men were asked to either follow an eight-week lifestyle program — including intermittent fasting, 30 minutes of brisk exercise a day, and twice-daily breathing exercises to reduce stress — or to act as a control .

After just two months, the men in the program reduced their biological age by an average of 1.96 years, while the control group had become slightly older.

So if your job is stressing you out and retiring or going part-time isn’t an option, maybe that’s something you should consider. It can save you more time.

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