Can Aging Be Reversed? – An Empowering Neurologist Interview
Can aging be reversed? This is certainly a question that’s been asked for a long time. And if it is indeed achievable, how would it be measured?
Over the years, a variety of theories of aging have been proposed. The various theories have paved the way for testing of one sort or another to allow the development of an age assessment tool. These have included studies to look at genomic instability, the length of telomeres, evaluations of how mitochondria are functioning, markers of cellular senescence, and even measurements of the competence of stem cells.
But perhaps the most widely accepted candidate these days is a measurement of what are called “epigenetic alterations.” Basically, this is an assessment of the degree of binding of our DNA to specific chemicals called methyl groups, and not just the binding of these methyl groups, but the specific pattern by which they attach themselves to our DNA. This technology was developed by UCLA professor Dr. Steve Horvath and involves identification of 323 points on human DNA (among tens of thousands) where these methyl groups attach. Assessment of biological age using this technique has been called an epigenetic clock, a methylation clock, or nowadays, the Horvath clock. This is perhaps the most objective technology for considering age and aging.
Early on in his research as this aging clock was beginning to make its way into our understanding, Dr. Horvath made it quite clear that the clock was basically inviolate, meaning that we could not influence it, for better or worse. Recently however, the notion that the Horvath clock was not subject to our manipulation has been challenged, and this is extremely good news.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald has just published what I consider to be a landmark paper (and there will soon be a powerful book about this from her as well). She studied 43 healthy adult males between the ages of 50 and 72 and put them on an eight-week treatment program with special attention to things like diet, sleep, exercise, and relaxation guidance along with supplemental probiotics and other phytonutrients. The subjects had an evaluation of their epigenetic age at the beginning of the study and at its conclusion. Remarkably, the intervention program was associated with a dramatic 3.23 years decrease in the epigenetic age in comparison to controls as measured by the Horvath technology.
The implications of this research are profound. Using the most widely accepted state-of-the-art measurement of aging, a specific lifestyle intervention program has led to age reversal. Today on The Empowering Neurologist we talk with Dr. Kara Fitzgerald about her exciting research, how the study was designed, and most importantly, what are the implications of this work.