Study shows Healthy Diet and Exercise slows Aging and Age-Related Diseases

Growing up, most of us were taught the importance of a healthy diet and exercise. We may have heard it from our parents, our teachers, or other mentors, but in our youth, we tend to wave off such warnings.

‘Who are these people to give such unqualified advice?’ we ask. ‘We are young and free, and we love our burgers, fries, and pizza, and computers, and video games.’

Such mentality doesn’t take long to steer us in the wrong direction, developing layers of overgrown fat cells where muscle once showed, and the older we get, the older we look.

What? Of course we look older as we get older; that’s ridiculous. Right? Not according to Dr. Nathan LeBrasseur and a team of colleagues at the Mayo Clinic’s Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging. Based on their research published in Medical News Today, (and the Ph.D. following LeBrasseur’s educational title), this information is certainly qualified to get our attention.

Before I move on, it’s also worth noting the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 34.9% of adults (78.6 million people) in the US alone are affected by moderate to severe obesity, which increases the risk of several common age-related diseases, including heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

Slow Aging with Diet and Exercise

Dr. LeBrasseur, senior author of the research, helped to conduct a 4-month study using a group of lab rats. Half of them were fed a “normal, healthy diet”, while the other half indulged in a “fast-food diet” high in saturated fats, cholesterol and sugary beverages.

The subjects who consumed the fast-food diet quickly developed senescent cells, or aging cells, (senescent coming from the Latin word senescere, which means “to grow old”. Their body weight and composition were adversely affected, with fat mass increasing by near 3-times over the 4-month period.

It was noted that (much like humans who disregard a healthy diet and exercise), these rats developed the most fat around their midsection, surrounding the internal organs; the same as has been associated with many obesity-related diseases.

But all was not lost. The research team granted access to an exercise wheel to half of the rats who ate a healthy diet, and half who did not. The subjects from both groups who exercised were significantly healthier.

Even the fast-food group, when partaking in exercise, amassed less fat and body weight throughout the study. But those that did not exercise accumulated a higher rate of senescent cells, making them much more susceptible to heart and metabolic diseases.

Thus it was concluded that ignoring a healthy diet and exercise doesn’t just lead to obesity, but an increased rate of aging and susceptibility to commonly age-related diseases at an earlier stage in life.

“Some of us believe that aging is just something that happens to all of us and it’s just a predestined fate, and by the time I turn 65 or 70 or 80, I will have Alzheimer’s disease and cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis,” said Dr. LeBrasseur. But in reality, he says this research proves that we can stint the aging process by making healthier eating choices and maintaining an active lifestyle.

“That doesn’t mean that we need to be marathon runners,” he said. “But we need to find ways to increase our habitual activity levels to stay healthy and prevent processes that drive aging and aging-related diseases.”

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