How To Not Get Old, The Age Old Question | Care For Health | Godalming Chiropractor | Chiropractic & Physiotherapy
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How To Not Get Old, The Age Old Question

March 2nd 2024

Bryan Johnson lives his life outside of the realms of what most people consider to be normal. Waking up at 4.30am, eating all of his meals before 11am and then going to bed at 8.30pm, no exception. Bryan spends £1.6m a year to take over 100 pills a day, uses LED lights and other technology all with the aim of slowing his rate of ageing. His goal? “Don’t die”.

He is using well-accepted science while he goes about his day, his workouts consist of mainly resistance training and cardiovascular work aiming to improve his VO2 max (this is the amount of oxygen his body can take in while exercising). Both methods are linked to living longer. His diet consists of 3 meals; 2 of which are the same but are full of important nutrients, living in a calorie restricted state and of course no alcohol.

But is it working, well in terms of physical parameters that are being measured his lungs are healthier than you’d expect for a 45-year-old. He can bench press 100kg and has less than 7% body fat. He is improving the typical markers of age, but he is not slowing ageing in a meaningful way. “People have the gene that limits our lifespan” says Dr C Brenner, an expert on ageing, “There’s nothing that he can do to change his maximal lifespan, people do live to 110 or 122 years, but none of those people have had highly regimented practices like that”.

Brenner went on to say he has put himself on a better ageing trajectory, but he hasn’t reversed it or eliminated ageing. So, what can we mere mortals take from this, what could we do to age at a slower rate?

Healthy ageing and joint health are crucial aspects of overall well-being. There are several lifestyle factors that can contribute to maintaining optimal function as we head into the later years of life.  

Away from the more obvious healthy choices such as no smoking, reduced/no alcohol, and regular exercise there is more that we can be doing to ensure we are in the best shape possible as we age.

Incorporating strength training or weight bearing exercise into your routine helps support the muscles around joints, providing stability and reducing the risk of an injury. It also stimulates bone formation and helps to maintain bone density. Particularly crucial for women, as women are more susceptible to osteoporosis as they age.

A balanced diet, this doesn’t mean not enjoying your food, but nutrition plays a crucial role in joint health. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon and other fish), antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables such as apples, avocado and berries. Guess it really is true an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Vitamin D, important for maintaining bone health but also for the absorption of important vitamins and minerals.

There are a couple of extra supplements I want to mention as they are making waves in the scientific world of anti-ageing. They are NMN or Nicotinamide Mononucleotide and Resveratrol. Both have been shown in multiple research studies to prevent aging and in some cases protect against age-related diseases.  Without going into too much heavy reading for you, Sirtuins are proteins in the human body of which we have 7, these are critical to DNA expression (tells something how to function), and aging, which only function in conjunction with NAD+, a coenzyme which is present in all living cells.

Having more NAD+ present enhances survival mechanisms such as boosting energy and increasing cellular repair. By middle age our NAD+ levels have halved! This is where NMN steps in, it increases NAD+ biosynthesis suppressing age-related adipose tissue inflammation, enhancing insulin action, improving function in the brain and more. Supplementing NMN may be an effective anti-aging option with a wide variety of additional physiological benefits.

Resveratrol, a chemical mostly found in red grapes and luckily also found in wine! We have long known of its anticancer activity but more recently research has focused on how it could protect against diverse chronic diseases such as heart related diseases, liver disease and Alzheimer’s. Drinking a glass of red wine isn’t the same as taking a dedicated supplement however if that’s how you’d like to interpret it don’t let me stop you. After all it is believed that resveratrol is responsible for the occurrence of so-called “French paradox”, i.e., a phenomenon involving relatively low morbidity of cardiovascular disease, despite the French diet consisting of a high amount of animal fats.

It goes without saying with all supplements, please do speak to a professional before you start taking anything new or different, there can be some side effects of use.

Providing protection to joints during activities. Warming up prior to physical exertion, light aerobic exercise and stretching or joint mobility exercises help to prepare the body for workouts ahead. It is also important to use proper equipment and lifting techniques to protect your joints, particularly knees and hips from injury. Incorporating flexibility into your routine also helps to maintain joint range of motion and can reduce the risk of injury. Wearing the right supportive footwear during running can help absorb impact. Did you know there are even specific types of trainers for different distances of running?

We often talk about sleep quality and stress. Now there’s not a huge amount of good quality evidence regarding the effect of sleep duration on mortality but we do know improving sleep leads to better mental health. Improving sleep is sometimes hard, but there’s a few things we can do to help. Having a consistent sleep schedule helps to reinforce a natural circadian rhythm which helps you regulate the sleep-wake cycle

Creating a relaxed bedtime routine, things such as reading a book or gentle stretches, help to create calming signals in your body. Alongside this, it can help to limit exposure to screens before bed as blue light emitted by technology can interfere with the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone.  Stress is a contributor to inflammation in the body which effects numerous functions. Incorporating stress management techniques such as meditation, mindfulness or even yoga into your routine can improve blood pressure and heart rate.

Regular health checkups and not just with us your chiropractors. Though regular adjustments allow to you to stay at optimal function and better joint balance. Enabling us to address any concerns early on, keeping normal joint motion and reducing stress on surrounding tissues and nerves. Intervening sooner rather than later can often help slow down the progression of joint issues.

What I’m not saying is that we all need to be Bryan Johnson, but I think there is something we can all take from the way he is targeting his health. He’s right about the odds being stacked against us; all the bad stuff has great PR but broccoli doesn’t get a look in. Acting in a simple meaningful way should be achievable. Hopefully some of those new year’s resolutions have stuck around and you can continue to build on them. After all, consistent efforts, no matter how small, leads to significant change.

Luke Ullyott MChiro DC