Can you think yourself younger?

Recent research into genetics has revealed that our environment, rather than our genes primarily determine our health.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE AGE?

The DNA in each cell has tiny structures called telomeres sitting on their ends, and these protect your genetic material. As each cell naturally divides into two, the telomeres at each end become slightly shorter. If they become too short, they can no longer protect the DNA, increasing the cells’ susceptibility to ageing.

Telomere shortening naturally happens as people age, but the rate varies between individuals and can be a significant determinant as to the rate at which you age. Reducing the rate of telomere shortening can also lead to delayed onset of age-associated diseases and increased lifespan. Smoking, obesity, stress, poor nutrition and pollution levels are all linked with shorter telomere length.

CAN YOU CHANGE THE RATE AT WHICH YOU AGE?

The rate of telomere shortening can be either increased or decreased by specific lifestyle factors:

  • Diet
  • Physical activity
  • Sleep

BUT ALSO BY..ATTITUDE AND POSITIVITY

  • In one study a group of 75-year-old men were asked to act and dress as if they were 55. Eyesight and memory improved by 10% and even intelligence significantly increased.
  • A 9-year study showed that optimistic older people are less likely to die over the period of a nine-year study than pessimists, while people with a positive attitude towards ageing had better mental, cognitive and physical health than those with a negative attitude.
  • A study of 230,000 people found those who had a positive outlook on life were over one-third less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease. They were also almost 20% less likely to die prematurely from the condition when compared to those with a negative outlook.