8 Heart-Healthy Habits Can Slow Biological Aging by Up to 6 Years

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One study shows that good heart health can delay biological aging for up to six years. Westend61/Getty Images
  • A new study suggests that having good cardiovascular health may slow the rate of biological aging.
  • Use Life’s Essential 8 (diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep health, BMI, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure) To measure biological age, researchers found that the biological age of people with the highest scores was, on average, six years younger than their chronological age.
  • Aiming to maintain a high Essential 8 score can not only lower your biological age but also improve your overall health.

according to a new research, having good cardiovascular health slows the rate of biological aging, thereby extending life and reducing the risk of heart problems and age-related health conditions.These findings were published in American Heart Association 2023 Scientific Sessions.

To explore the link between cardiovascular health and biological aging, researchers used the American Heart Association’s 8-item list of daily necessities Simultaneously measures phenotypic age—determined by your chronological age and biomarkers including metabolism, inflammation, and organ function.

The older your phenotypic age is, the faster you are biologically aging.

Results showed negative phenotypic age acceleration in participants with good cardiovascular health. In other words, their biological age (the health of their cells) is younger compared to their chronological age (how long they live).

In contrast, participants with poor cardiovascular health had a positive phenotypic age acceleration, suggesting that their biological age was older than their chronological age.

The average chronological age of people with good cardiovascular health is 41 years, and the average biological age is 36 years. And the average chronological age of people with poor cardiovascular health was 53 years, and the average biological age was 57 years.

When the researchers looked at participants’ 8 “necessities of life” scores (diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep health, BMI, cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure), they found that the average biological age of those with the highest scores was 6 years younger than their actual age.

The new research has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

A person’s chronological age refers to the time someone was born. Biological age is measured by the age of cells and the function of the body.

“Biological age takes into account other health factors such as chronological age, genetics, lifestyle, other diseases, and nutrition,” said Dr. Joyce Oen-Hsiao, assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine and director of Yale Cardiac Rehabilitation Services. Haven Hospital Heart and Vascular Center , was not involved in this study.

“A person’s biological age is determined by the damage the body accumulates over time, related to disease and lifestyle,” adds Dr. Oen-Hsiao.

For example, if a 30-year-old man doesn’t exercise, eats high-fat fast food, and smokes, his biological age will be over 30, Oen-Hsiao explained.

“However, if patients lead a healthy lifestyle, exercise regularly, maintain a good weight and eat a heart-healthy diet, their biological age may be younger than their actual age.

Therefore, the link between cardiovascular health and slowing biological aging is relevant. Therefore, patients who have a healthy lifestyle and thus improved cardiovascular health will have a lower biological age…or, their body’s aging process will be slower than those who do not have a healthy lifestyle. “

– Dr. Joyce Oen-Hsiao

Oen-Hsiao says the “8 Factors” cover every good lifestyle change people can make to improve their health. These include:

1) diet: Eating more fruits, vegetables and lean meats and avoiding trans fats, fried foods and sugary foods can help lose weight, reduce oxidation, lower cholesterol and prevent diabetes. All of these will help reduce biological age.

2) Activity: more active. The AHA recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week.

Moderate aerobic exercise includes activities such as walking, jogging, biking, water aerobics, or social dancing.

Vigorous aerobic exercise includes running, spinning, swimming, or jumping rope. Exercise can lower blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. It can also help people lose weight. All of these benefits help reduce biological age.

3) Quit smoking: Smoking, vaping, or using e-cigarettes can have negative effects on the body, including increased blood pressure, damage to blood vessels (due to toxins), and shortness of breath (reduced oxygen due to changes in the lungs).

People who quit smoking can reduce their risk of coronary heart disease by half within a year of quitting. All of the negative effects of smoking lead to increased biological age. By quitting smoking, a person can slow down the biological aging process.

4) Get healthy sleep: People who don’t sleep well tend to experience increased blood pressure, increased cholesterol, increased sugar levels, and lowered metabolism. These effects can lead to weight gain and obesity.by getting at least 7-9 hours of good sleeppeople can improve cardiovascular health and thereby slow biological aging.

5) Body mass index/weight: Many factors contribute to being overweight or obese. Genetics definitely play a role. However, lifestyle plays a bigger role. Eating the wrong foods and living a sedentary lifestyle can lead to weight gain.

Weight gain can lead to tightness of heart and joint tissue and other conditions, such as diabetes. These negative effects accelerate biological aging. To combat this problem, people should control portion sizes, make healthy food choices, and be active/exercise. Lowering body weight to a normal body mass index slows biological age.

6) cholesterol: High cholesterol often leads to increased cardiovascular inflammation, which leads to increased plaque deposits in the arteries of the heart. This inflammation and plaque increases the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Cholesterol comes from two sources: the cholesterol your body produces (genetic) and the food you eat. People cannot change their genes, but they can change their eating habits. By making healthier food choices (especially cutting back on saturated fats and carbohydrates and eating more vegetables and lean meats), you can lower your cholesterol levels, thereby reducing your risk of plaque formation and heart inflammation. This slows biological age.

7) blood sugar: Elevated blood sugar can lead to diabetes. When people’s blood sugar rises, the arteries in the heart, brain, eyes and kidneys can be damaged. This can lead to accelerated atherosclerosis, leading to earlier onset of heart disease and stroke.

Uncontrolled sugar accelerates a person’s biological age. By lowering blood sugar, biological age can also be slowed. People should avoid refined sugar, carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice) and sugary drinks. Exercise can also help lower blood sugar by “burning” excess blood sugar in the circulation.

8) blood pressure: High blood pressure strains the cardiovascular system—not just the arteries, but also the heart.

Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to heart failure, stroke and heart attack. This stress on the cardiovascular system accelerates biological age. Controlling blood pressure can be achieved by increasing activity and eating a heart-healthy diet, especially reducing salt intake.

In addition to slowing biological aging, adhering to the 8 Essentials can improve overall health in many ways.

Dr. John Higgins, a cardiologist at UTHealth Houston who was not involved in the study, explains that improving endothelial (blood vessel) function can have positive effects on multiple organ systems:

Reduce your risk factors:

  • better blood pressure
  • better cholesterol
  • better blood sugar
  • Smoking less

Improve organ function:

  • better kidney function
  • Better blood flow to the heart, brain, limbs and muscles – better aerobic capacity
  • Better bone and muscle health so falls/fractures are less likely
  • Better blood flow to the skin helps skin health and reduces sunburn and skin cancer

“A heart-healthy diet, exercise, good sleep and not smoking can lower blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. All of these can lead to weight loss, allowing people to be more active,” Oen-Hsiao said.

“Maintaining an active lifestyle is not only good for the heart but also for the bones/joints. If people exercise consistently every day, there will be fewer joint problems/muscle pain. Losing weight will also put less stress on the joints, allowing for more activity,” Dr. Oen-Hsiao added.

Finally, maintaining an exercise habit (you can start at any age) and staying active will help regulate your mood (people who exercise regularly are less depressed) and improve your mind (controlling your blood pressure and exercising regularly can reduce your risk of dementia).

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