- Stress can temporarily change our biological age, but the process is reversed when the stressor is resolved, according to a new study.
- Stress can result from emotional distress, illness, drug treatment, environmental exposure, or lifestyle changes.
- Chronic stress occurs when the body remains on alert, even after the stress has subsided.
The researchers used DNA methylation clocks to measure and record the changes biological age as it responds to stress in humans and mice.
In one experiment, scientists performed
The researchers said biological age of younger mice could increase relatively quickly due to heterochronic parabiosis, a stressful situation. However, after the mice were separated, the biological age of the younger mice was restored.
Based on this information, the researchers hypothesized that natural periods of physical or emotional stress would have the same reaction, causing reversible changes in biological age.
After emergency surgery, they noticed that the increase in biological age returned to baseline a few days after the procedure. The same was true for postpartum recovery, although women recovered at different rates. For COVID-19, immunosuppressive drugs improved recovery of the biological clock.
The researchers noted that biological age in animal models and in humans could change based on the following:
- drug treatment
- lifestyle changes
- environmental exposure
They said the study results show that biological age can be fluid, fluctuating and subject to change – ideas that challenge the traditional view that age only moves in one direction.
“The findings suggest that severe stress increases mortality, at least in part, by increasing biological age,” he said Vadim Gladishevthe study’s senior author, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director of redox medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, said in a press release.
“This idea immediately suggests that mortality can be reduced by reducing biological age and that the ability to recover from stress may be an important determinant of successful aging and longevity. Finally, biological age can be a useful parameter in assessing physiological stress and its mitigation,” he added.
When faced with a stressor, whether real or perceived, there is a fight or flight response, according to Harvard Health.
The brain sends signals and the body reacts by preparing to either fight the threat or run away from it.
Some physical reactions include:
- Heart rate and blood pressure to increase
- Breathing speeds up
- Bread the answer is numbing
- Dilated pupils
- Awareness and observation increase
- Adrenaline it is pumped through your body – giving you extra energy and strength
The body produces cortisol to help with prolonged alertness in the face of threat.
“The flight or fight response is a psychological reaction when we experience something dangerous or frightening – mentally or physically,” he said. Babita Spinelli, LP, psychotherapist and workplace mental health counselor in private practice. “It’s triggered by the release of hormones created to deal with the danger you’re facing or running away from.”
“In other words, the flight or fight response is a reaction to an experience or event that is perceived as stressful, frightening or traumatic,” Spinelli said. Medical news today. “This activates a response in one’s nervous system and causes extreme stress that causes fight or flight.”
“While this behavior is designed to survive a situation that appears ‘dangerous’ and may be helpful (in the short term), continued, unaddressed flight or fight can create a negative physical response in the body,” Spinelli added. “Everything is temporarily stopped during flight or fight. If an individual is constantly running or fighting, it can create chronic stress that contributes to changes in the brain, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, high blood pressure, physical problems and disease.”
Chronic stress occurs when people cannot slow down their stress response or remain in a state of alertness, even after the stressor has passed.
High cortisol levels over a long period of time can result in the following:
- Increased appetite and fat tissue accumulation
- High blood pressure
- Stress on the heart and lungs
- Suppression of the immune system
- Muscle tension
All of this can take a toll on your body and health. A current study concludes that it can also take time out of your life.
“I discovered that stress increases one’s biological age and that it can be positively affected or restored by incorporating a healthy mental and physical lifestyle,” Spinelli said. “Paying attention to your own mindset is also extremely powerful in reducing stress which ultimately has a positive effect on the body.”
“Experiences such as trauma and other major life stressors affect the experience of old age. Trauma affects mental and physical health,” Spinelli continued. “The development of diseases, operations and other traumatic experiences affects how a person feels and moves through life, regardless of age. Individuals in their twenties can feel older when faced with challenges and difficulties. If an individual does not make room for recovery and work on these traumas, it catches up with him physically and accelerates the aging process. However, through restoration, which I see as devoting and applying active attention to recovery, physical and psychological, there is a reversal in the process of biological aging. Using healthy habits in one’s life helps the individual manage stress and take control of it instead of being driven by stress.”
They propose the following activities:
Practice – Being active can improve emotional well-being. Getting up and dancing, moving or stretching for ten minutes can help.
Praxis deep breathing – Try to sit with your eyes closed and breathe deeply. Slowly release your breath and repeat ten times.
Meditate – Single meditation is to sit quietly for 10 minutes and focus on the breath. Pay attention to how each breath feels as you inhale and exhale. When you find your mind wandering, bring it back to your breath.
Practice gratitude – Every day, write down three to five things you are grateful for. If you continue to do this, you may become more positive throughout the day and constantly seek out what makes you happy.
Be social – Spend time gathering and laughing with friends. Creating relationships provides a sense of belonging and can give life meaning.
Listen to music – Make a playlist of music you like, get comfortable, close your eyes and listen.
Take care of your body – Exercise, proper nutrition, limiting alcohol consumption and not smoking and using tobacco products are the keys to a healthy life.
Many people use yoga to reduce stress in their lives.
“Besides the physical benefits, one of the best benefits of yoga is that it helps a person manage stress,” American Osteopathic Association States.
“Yoga is a practice for the whole human being, not just the physical container we are in,” Allison Benzakencertified yoga instructor at Dew Yoga, she said Medical news today.
“What sets yoga apart from other fitness modalities is the mind-body connection, which is initiated by deliberate and specific breathing techniques,” he said. Montana Mitchell, master trainer with YogaSix. “These breathing techniques, also known as pranayama, activate your parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and lower your resting heart rate. Breath is the root of yoga.”
In recent years, more and more medical professionals and scientists have focused on the benefits of the mind-body connection, which looks at how our thoughts, feelings, beliefs and attitudes can positively or negatively affect physical health, according to University of Minnesota.
“The mind-body connection is powerful,” Spinelli said. “The body keeps score, and chronic stress will wear the body down and cause premature aging.”