Wind the clock back three years… in just eight weeks?

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New clinical trial demonstrates that mitigating DNA methylation with diet and lifestyle can produce a Horvath aging clock-measured biological age reduction of over three years – in only eight weeks.

Like a candidate’s pep rally, the internet is chanting “Three more years! Three more years!” after a new study appeared to indicate an exciting roll-back of biological aging.

Longevity.Technology: This is no small claim, but the paper is peer-reviewed and based on a randomised, controlled clinical trial. It is now a widely accepted premise that aging is malleable, and that interventions, whether that’s drugs, diet, exercise, supplements or lifestyle changes, can modulate the process, dialling the speed up or down. As more is understood about our epigenome, the chemical tags that sit on top of your genetic information, marked with methyl groups as genes are switched on and off, researchers can track how it changes over time, and clock (pun intended) the rate of biological aging.

The study was independently conducted by the Helfgott Research Institute, with laboratory assistance from Yale University Center for Genome Analysis. The study, the results of which were independently analysed at McGill University and the National University of Natural Medicine, were conducted among 43 healthy adult males between the ages of 50-72. The programme lasted eight weeks and included diet, sleep, exercise and relaxation guidance. In addition, subjects were given supplemental probiotics and phytonutrients, including alpha ketoglutarate, vitamins C and A, curcumin, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), rosmarinic acid and quercetin.

The results demonstrated a statistically significant reduction of biological age of over three years when compared with control [1].

Chronological age is how old you are in calendar years; biological age, in contrast, is how old your cells and and organs are biologically, and is determined by a variety of factors. Age is primarily influenced by genetics, but aging can also be affected by myriad external factors, including diet, exercise, toxins, disease, stress and sleep.

 


 

“This study provides the first insight into the possibility of using natural alterations to target epigenetic processes and improve our well being and perhaps even longevity and lifespan.”

 


 

Aging is an accumulation of damage and loss of function to our cells, tissues and organs. This damage and slowing rate of repair are drivers of diseases of aging. DNA methylation is gaining traction as a way to evaluate and track biological aging.

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The study’s lead author, Kara Fitzgerald ND IFMCP, said: “The combined intervention program was designed to target a specific biological mechanism called DNA methylation, and in particular the DNA methylation patterns that have been identified as highly predictive of biological age. We suspect that this focus was the reason for its remarkable impact. These early results appear to be consistent with, and greatly extend, the very few existing studies that have so far examined the potential for biological age reversal. And it is unique in its use of a safe, non-pharmaceutical dietary and lifestyle program, control group, and the extent of the age reduction. We are currently enrolling participants for a larger study which we expect will corroborate these findings [2].”

Moshe Szyf, PhD, of McGill University, epigeneticist and co-author on the study added: “The uniqueness of Dr Fitzgerald’s approach is that her trial devised a natural but mechanistic driven strategy to target the methylation system of our body. This study provides the first insight into the possibility of using natural alterations to target epigenetic processes and improve our well being and perhaps even longevity and lifespan [2].”

“What is extremely exciting,” added Dr Fitzgerald, “is that food and lifestyle practices, including specific nutrients and food compounds known to selectively alter DNA methylation, are able to have such an impact on those DNA methylation patterns we know predict aging and age-related disease. I believe that this, together with new possibilities for us all to measure and track our DNA methylation age, will provide significant new opportunities for both scientists and consumers [2].”

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8064200/
[2] https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/05/210527145327.htm

Image courtesy of Dr. Fitzgerald

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Eleanor Garth
Deputy Editor Now a science and medicine journalist, Eleanor worked as a consultant for university spin-out companies and provided research support at Imperial College London and various London hospitals in a former life.

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