Sunday 26 November 2023

Vitamin D dose guidance may not be high enough for heart health


  • Vitamin D is an essential nutrient, and researchers are interested in how it may help in several health areas.
  • One area of interest is how much vitamin D supplementation is required to achieve potential cardiac benefits.
  • An initial analysis in a clinical trial suggests that the current recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D in the United States is too low to achieve optimal vitamin D levels for people with certain cardiac problems.
  • Future research in this area will seek to determine if achieving optimal vitamin D levels can decrease the risk for adverse cardiovascular events.

Research is ongoing about the health benefits of vitamin D. One area of interest is how vitamin D may help reduce the risk of heart problems.

Researchers at Intermountain Health are conducting an ongoing clinical trial looking into this topic, and their first analysis is already complete.

Reports shared at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023Trusted Source suggest that current recommended dietary allowances are inadequate for achieving optimal serum vitamin D levels.

In this trial’s next phase, researchers will examine if optimal vitamin D levels are associated with a decreased risk for adverse cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient and contributes to proper bone function. Research is ongoing about how vitamin D may promote health in other areas, including cardiovascular health.

However, the National Institutes of Health (NIH)Trusted Source note that current evidence does not seem to support the claim that taking vitamin D supplements helps reduce risks for cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Mary Greene, from Manhattan Cardiology in New York, and contributor to LabFinder, not involved in the current research, explained to Medical News Today that “[m]any studies have failed to demonstrate if supplementation with Vitamin D can prevent major adverse cardiovascular events.”

She added:

“There are several proposed mechanisms by which vitamin D may contribute to cardiovascular health. Having healthy vitamin D levels may promote glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, may promote endothelial function in the blood vessels, may regulate blood pressure and blood volume homeostasis and may inhibit inflammation. Due to these effects, vitamin D helps to regulate the underlying dysfunction that causes heart disease.”

Dr. Cheng-Han Chen, a board-certified interventional cardiologist and medical director of the Structural Heart Program at MemorialCare Saddleback Medical Center in Laguna Hills, CA, also not involved in the current research, further noted that: “Vitamin D deficiency has been considered a possible risk factor in cardiovascular disease. However, studies which examined the effect of vitamin D supplementation have not found a clear benefit of Vitamin D in preventing cardiovascular events.”

“Past observational studies have noted an association between low Vitamin D levels and increased risk of a cardiovascular event such as heart attack or stroke. However, the reasons behind this association are not clear. It is hypothesized that Vitamin D receptors in cells throughout the vascular system are involved in blood vessel inflammation, which could in turn promote heart disease,” he detailed.

Currently, the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin D is 600 international units (IU)Trusted Source, or approximately 15 micrograms (mcg), for adults under 70 years of age, and 800 IU, or around 20 mcg, for adults over 70.

However, according to the researchers who conducted the current clinical trial, this might not be enough for people to reach appropriate serum levels of vitamin D.

They suggest that participants in other studies were not given high enough doses of vitamin D to achieve a therapeutic response.

The authors of the current clinical trial wanted to understand more about optimal dosing to help people reach appropriate vitamin D levels and whether or not this aids in preventing adverse cardiovascular events.

For this clinical trial — called TARGET-D — they have recruited 632 participants. All of these participants had experienced acute coronary syndromeTrusted Source. This refers to a group of events with decreased blood flow to the heart. For example, someone who experienced a heart attack would have acute coronary syndrome.

Researchers then divided participants into the vitamin D intervention group and the group receiving standard care. Instead of just giving a standard dose of vitamin D, researchers went off of participants’ specific vitamin D levels and provided supplementation as needed.

In the first part of their analysis, they found that most participants required vitamin D supplementation to reach a serum vitamin D level of more than 40 nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL).

When determining what doses to give participants to reach this level, they found that 51% needed between 5,000-8,000 IU, much higher than the recommended dietary allowance. Additionally, 14.6% of participants required 10,000 IU or more to reach optimal vitamin D levels.

It also took time for participants to reach the target vitamin D level. Less than 65% of participants reached the level at three months, and 25% required six months of intervention to reach the level.

The results indicate that higher vitamin D doses are required to reach therapeutic levels in this group.

Study author Dr. Heidi May, a cardiovascular epidemiologist with Intermountain Health, explained some of the key components of the clinical trial to MNT:

“TARGET-D is a randomized clinical trial that is evaluating whether obtaining a blood vitamin D level>40 ng/mL reduces adverse cardiovascular outcomes. We have found this association in prior observational studies, but a randomized clinical study is needed to determine if there is a causation relation. We were not surprised that so many patients had levels [lower than or equal to] 40 ng/mL, but how much vitamin D supplementation was needed to achieve this level.”


Saturday 25 November 2023

Scientists unveil new epigenetic clock to gauge a person's biological aging


  • A new study of people with chronic kidney disease indicates there is accelerated biological aging from the disease.
  • The researchers reported that the accelerated aging was slowed by kidney transplantation but not dialysis.
  • Through this study, researchers say they were able to develop a more accurate “epigenetic clock” to help determine biological age in people with as well as without kidney disease.

In the study of aging, there are generally two categories: The age you have by the calendar and the age you are biologically.

The former is straightforward. Understanding the latter is very much an emerging science.

Key to this new science of aging is the concept of the “epigenetic clock,” which involves examining DNA for signs of aging and comparing that to a person’s chronological age.

A research team from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and the University of Glasgow in Scotland believe they’ve developed a fitter, more accurate epigenetic clock from a study of people with chronic kidney disease (CKD).

The research team used existing measures of biological age to compare the effects of dialysis treatment and kidney transplantation on patients’ epigenetic clocks compared to healthy tissue.

People with chronic kidney disease were chosen partly because the condition is known to produce hallmarks of accelerated aging, making it a good target for this sort of study

Their researchers’ findings were published in the Journal of Internal MedicineTrusted Source.

“Biological age provides a more comprehensive understanding of a person’s aging process and reflects how well their body is functioning compared to what is expected at their chronological age,” said Dr. Gil Blander, PhD, the founder and chief scientific officer at the biomedical company InsideTracker, who was not involved in the study.

The researchers examined a cohort of 400 people with chronic kidney disease and 100 “control” participants.

They also monitored 47 people after they began kidney dialysis or one year after kidney transplantation. They then compared that to the healthy tissue of 48 similarly chronologically-aged people.

The scientist reported that biological clocks kept ticking faster among people on dialysis compared to a person who received a kidney transplantation or people without kidney disease.

“These results are not surprising since dialysis only provides a temporary solution to the disease outcome, whereas successful transplantation is a real reversal of the disease,” Dr. Blander told Medical News Today.

However, Dr. Nathan Goodyear, an integrative medicine practitioner and the medical director of Brio-Medical, disagreed. He explained to MNT:

“The surgical-associated stress, immune dysfunction associated with surgery, and the chronic immune suppression from the chronic immunosuppression required post transplantation would likely accelerate epigenetic modification, aging, and its associated biological aging. Yet, the restoration of the ability of the body to restore optimal detoxification oxidant/antioxidant balance [via a new kidney] to maintain optimal mitochondrial energy production slowed epigenetic modification and slow epigenetic aging — and biological aging as a result.”


Building a better epigenetic clock

The researchers reported that initial epigenetic clocks showed that chronic kidney disease accelerated biological aging, but the clocks didn’t necessarily sync.

In addition, none of the clocks were completely accurate compared to actual clinical results and were all inaccurate when tested against healthy tissue.

That led the team to develop a new epigenetic clock based on these results using “methylation tagging” that worked in both diseased and healthy tissue.

This is a refinement of existing techniques, as methylation is a natural byproduct of the aging process where methyl groups accrue in DNA, reducing gene transcription and altering a person’s phenotype — their observable characteristics.

“This is the first clinical test of epigenetic clocks, and the discovery that most are inaccurate when compared with medical evidence has led us to develop a new, more accurate test we have proven is accurate to the high standards of a clinical setting,” said Helen Erlandsson, a PhD student and lead study author from the Karolinska Institutet, in a press release.

“Methylation tagging of DNA is impacted by what we eat and also our gut microbiome. As a result, this new clock has real potential to be able to evaluate lifestyle interventions, including diet, that could benefit the public and help to address issues such as health inequalities.”

However, not everyone agrees on the science of the usefulness of epigenetic clocks as a tool.

“Epigenetic clocks are a fad right now,” said Dr. Charles Brenner, the chair of Diabetes and Cancer Metabolism at City of Hope and the chief scientific advisor at aging science research company ChromaDex who was not involved in the study.

“They are an attempt to quantify biological aging using biomarkers that can be measured in blood,” he told MNT. “There is no consumer use case for epigenetic clocks. If people want to know their biological age, they can compare their fitness to other people their age. It’s function that matters.”

To that end, epigenetics isn’t the be-all and end-all of a person’s biological age.

“It’s important to know that our lifestyle plays a major role in the aging process, accounting for up to 93 percent [of aging],” Dr. Blander said. “Factors such as environment, diet, physical activity, and sleep are just a few examples.”

Dr. Brenner agreed, noting the following to MNT:

“Eating right, staying physically and mentally active, socially engaged, prioritizing sleep, and avoiding drugs and alcohol are the most important steps. We think there is also a use case for nicotinamide riboside in preserving youthful resiliency. This is a form of vitamin B3 that is undergoing extensive clinical testing for diseases and conditions of metabolic stress and aging.”

Source - Medical News Today 


Friday 24 November 2023

Want to live longer, healthier lives? Restricting calories may help


  • The recent popularity of the world’s Blue Zones has led to increased interest in how a person can not only live longer but also age healthier.
  • Previous research highlights some things people can do for healthier aging.
  • Researchers from the National Institute on Aging have discovered that calorie restriction improves muscle health and stimulates biological pathways important for healthy aging.

With the recent popularity of the world’s so-called Blue Zones, where people tend to live longer than elsewhere on the Globe, there has been a lot of interest and discussion on how a person can not only increase their longevity but also age healthier.

Previous research shows that lifestyle interventions, such as staying activeTrusted Source, following a healthy dietTrusted Source, practicing good sleep hygieneTrusted Source, not smoking, and limiting alcoholTrusted Source intake can help people lead healthier lives for longer.

Now, researchers from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Aging have discovered that calorie restriction can improve muscle health and stimulates biological pathways important for healthy aging.

Their study recently appeared in the journal Aging CellTrusted Source.

Calorie restrictionTrusted Source is the process of lowering the average amount of calories a person would normally consume in a day without depriving themselves of the essential vitamins and minerals they need to stay healthy.

An average person needs between 1,600 to 3,000 calories a day, depending on their biological sex, height, age, and activity level.

A calorie-restricted diet reduces food intake by between 20% to 40% while still meeting the recommended daily intake of essential nutrients.

When following a calorie-restricted diet, it is important to talk to a doctor or nutritionist first as cutting too many calories can lead to health issues.

Intermittent fasting can also be used as an alternative to calorie restriction as research shows it offers many of the same benefitsTrusted Source.

For many years, researchers have studied how calorie restriction affects a person’s overall health.

Previous studies show eating fewer calories each day can support weight lossTrusted Source and improve cardiovascular healthTrusted Source and cognitive functionTrusted Source.

The current study is also not the first to link calorie restriction with longevity. Research published in April 2016 found that calorie restriction helps protect the body from aging through inflammation preventionTrusted Source and other mechanisms.

Moreover, a study published in September 2017 reported that calorie restriction may lead to positive changes in the genesTrusted Source associated with aging.

And research published in February 2022 found that following a calorie-restricted diet may help increase a person’s “health span.”

For this study, scientists examined how calorie restriction helped improve muscle health and conserve muscle function, as a declineTrusted Source in muscle mass and function is known to occur with aging.

“Previous studies have found that while people on calorie restriction were losing muscle mass, they did not lose muscle strength, which suggests that something occurred in the muscle that improves their performance, [and] we wanted to know what,” Dr. Luigi FerrucciTrusted Source, scientific director of the National Institute on Aging and corresponding author of this study explained to Medical News Today.

“Also, there is evidence in animal models that [calorie restriction] enhances the production of spliced variants of different proteins,” he added.

Dr. Ferrucci and his team analyzed data from study participants in the Comprehensive Assessment of Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy (CALERIE)Trusted Source study. This study, supported by the National Institute on Aging, looked at whether moderate calorie restriction in humans offered the same health benefits seen in animal studies.

Although CALERIE study participants were asked to achieve a 25% calorie reduction over 2 years, the highest the group reached was a 12% reduction.

The scientists used thigh muscle biopsies from CALERIE participants to examine how calorie restriction affects human genes.

Using messenger RNA (mRNA) molecules isolated from the biopsies, researchers found that consuming fewer calories upregulated the genes associated with energy generation and metabolism, and downregulated inflammatory genes, resulting in less inflammation.

When explaining how calorie restriction may affect a person’s genes and lead to healthier aging, Dr. Ferrucci said there are many integrated mechanisms involved:

“The most directly understandable is [an] improvement of mitochondrial health and reduction of inflammation. However, very interesting is also the effect on the clock gene that regulates the rhythm of many metabolisms in our body. Overall, these and other mechanisms improve muscle health and function,"

 Preserving function supports longevity

After reviewing this study, Monique Richard, a registered dietitian nutritionist, owner of Nutrition-In-Sight, and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics, not involved in this research, told MNT that the results of this study are not surprising, judging by data gathered by previous research.

“As we age, cellular processes [and] cell regeneration and turnover slow down,” she explained. “If we work to preserve and support these systems, we will be able to preserve function, support longevity, and quality of life.”

“An analogy would be thinking of our body as a vehicle,” Richard continued. “In order to get the most miles and performance out of a vehicle, it is important to provide quality energy — high-grade gas or electricity for the vehicle, high-quality vitamins, minerals and nutrients for our body — regular maintenance and check-ups for the functional pieces — brakes, tires, [and] engine like our brain, heart, and body — and tender, love, and care.”

“Decreasing excess, nonessential calories, but making sure individual needs are met, will preserve cellular function [and] muscle tissue and extend the ability for cells to function and turnover,” she noted.

MNT also spoke with Dr. David Cutler, a family medicine physician at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, about this study. Dr. Cutler was not involved in this research.

He commented he was happy this study was done as it helps get the message out to people that it is, in some cases, better to eat less.

“The public health aspects are the most important thing — just getting the message out to people about eating less and the dangers posed by being overweight, by being obese, by having diabetes, and all the other ramifications of overeating,” said Dr. Cutler.

For those looking to cut calories, Dr. Cutler said there are certain food groups to start with.

“I’d start number one with processed meatsTrusted Source,” he detailed. “Any meat that has been salted or cured or processed in any way — the salamis, the bolognas, the hotdogs. These should all be off our list. I think red meat in general should be severely limited. And carbohydrates should be geared towards a much lower glycemic index — less sweet and processed carbohydrates.”

Source - Medical News Today


Thursday 23 November 2023

Just 20-25 minutes of daily exercise may offset death risk from prolonged sitting


  • Around 22 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day can eliminate the increased risk of death associated with a sedentary lifestyle, a new study indicates.
  • The more people exercise, the greater their mortality risk decreases.
  • The study findings show that daily exercise can be carried out all at once or in exercise “snacks” throughout the day.

A new study suggests that a person can reduce their mortality risk with much less exercise than one might think.

The study finds that just 22 minutes of daily moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) can reduce one’s risk of dying prematurely as a result of a sedentary lifestyle.

The beneficial effects of exercise are, of course, dose-dependent, so the more exercise, the greater a reduction in mortality risk, up to a point.

The study’s authors tracked 11,989 people who participated in several fitness-tracker-based studies: the Norwegian Tromso Study, the Swedish Healthy Aging Initiative, the Norwegian National Physical Activity Survey, and the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

All the people in the studies were at least 50 years old and reported to researchers their weight, height, sex, educational level, alcohol use, smoking, and any incidence of previous cancer, cardiovascular disease, or diabetes.

Of the participants, 5,943 individuals were sitting for less than 10.5 hours every day, while 6,042 individuals sat for 10.5 or more hours daily. The researchers aimed to assess the effect of sedentary time and physical activity on mortality risk, as derived from death registries.

For people exercising less than 22 minutes a day, sitting for more than 12 hours was associated with a 38% increased risk of death compared to sitting for 8 hours.

The World Health Organization (WHO)Trusted Source recommends 150–300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise per week or at least 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, or a combination of both.

The study was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The study’s first author, Dr. Edvard H. Sagelv, from UiT The Arctic University of Norway in Tromso, said: “The research field is a little bit divided on how sedentary time is dangerous. I would say, compared with not doing physical activity, sedentary time is not that dangerous.”

“However, previous research indicates that excess sedentary time is increasing the risks of disease and premature death,” he added.

Dr. Tracy L. Zaslow, a primary care sports medicine physician practicing in Los Angeles, California, who was not involved in the study, explained, “To put it simply, when we’re sedentary, we use our muscles less, and it’s use it or lose it.”

“If we’re not using our legs and our core muscles, they’re going to become weaker, and then we’re less likely to want to be active because it’s harder to walk a little further,” she added.

This also increases the risk of falling, at which point we may acquire injuries that make us even more reluctant to be physically active.

“Remember, the heart is a muscle,” cautioned Dr. Zaslow.

She noted that the less we engage in activity, the weaker the heart muscle becomes, so physical activity becomes even more challenging because it becomes necessary to recondition the heart. Being sedentary has been associated with cardiometabolic disease, said Dr. Zaslow.

While the study focuses on older people, said Dr. Melody Ding, also not involved in the study, “Physical activity is known to offer a range of benefits, such as mental health, cardiometabolic profiles, and cognitive functions.”

“There are good reasons to be active across the lifespan,” said Dr. Ding.

Dr. Zaslow pointed out that even children need to build and strengthen muscles by exercising and that doing so sets them up for a lifetime of physical activity.

In addition, mental health, including a reduction in anxiety and depression, is associated with being active. Given the widely reported mental health crisis among young people, said Dr. Zaslow, this is yet another important benefit.

Exercise also promotes better sleep, she suggested, facilitating falling asleep more quickly and achieving deeper sleep. “We know that when we sleep better, we have fewer injuries. So, by sleeping more than eight hours, studies have shown that kids have 50% less injuries.”

“I kind of look at exercise and having the regularity of exercise as being like an upward spiral,” Dr. Zaslow said.

Dr. Sagelv pointed out that the study’s 22 minutes of physical activity a day adds up to the 150 minutes prescribed by the WHO.

“Our study found that Individuals doing more than 22 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per day had no increased risk of death with more sedentary time. This contradicts the WHO recommendation to exceed 150-300 minutes of MVPA per week when dealing with unavoidable high sedentary time,” he said.

As to exceeding 22 minutes a day, Dr. Sagelv noted:

“That is a beautiful part. There appears to be no upper limit at which it does not provide any health benefits. However, at the higher ends, about 60-120 min per day, the risk reduction appears to level off a bit, especially for those being highly sedentary.”

People do not need to complete 22 minutes of activity all at once each day, either, according to Dr. Zaslow and previous research. “Exercise snacking” involves taking 10 minutes here and 15 minutes there, and may be easier for some to integrate into their busy lives.

“From the public health [perspective], it is important to remember that doing any MVPA is better than doing none. Even if one cannot achieve the target, it is better to do a little more,” said Dr. Ding.

Source - Medical News Today

Wednesday 22 November 2023

8 heart-healthy habits may slow biological aging by up to 6 years, researchers say


  • A new study shows having good cardiovascular health may decrease the pace of biological aging.
  • Using Life’s Essential 8 (diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep health, BMI, cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure) to measure biological age, researchers discovered those who had the highest score had a biological age that was on average six years younger than their actual age.
  • Aiming to maintain a high Essential 8 score may not only lower your biological age but will boost your overall health.

According to a new studyTrusted Source, having good cardiovascular health may slow the rate of biological aging, which can lengthen life and lower the risk of heart issues and age-related health conditions. These findings were presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions 2023Trusted Source.

To explore the connection between cardiovascular health and biological aging, researchers used the American Heart Association’s Life’s Essential 8 checklistTrusted Source and measured phenotypic age — determined by your chronological age and biomarkers including:

  • metabolism
  • inflammation
  • organ function

The higher your phenotypic age, the faster you are biologically aging.

Results showed that participants with good cardiovascular health had a negative phenotypic age acceleration. In other words, they had a younger biological age (the health of their cells) compared to their chronological age (the number of years they have lived).

Conversely, participants with poor cardiovascular health had a positive phenotypic age acceleration, indicating they had an older biological age than their actual age.

The average chronological age of people with good cardiovascular health was 41, and their average biological age was 36. On the other hand, the average chronological age of those who had poor cardiovascular health was 53, and their average biological age was 57.

When researchers looked at participants’ Life’s Essential 8 score (diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep health, BMI, cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure), they found those who had the highest score had a biological age on average six years younger than their chronological age.

The new research has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

A person’s chronological age is when someone was born. Biological age is measured by how old your cells are and how your body functions.

“Biological age takes into account chronological age, genetics, lifestyle, other diseases, and other health things, such as nutrition,” said Dr. Joyce Oen-Hsiao, assistant professor at Yale School of Medicine and Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation Services, Yale New Haven Hospital Heart & Vascular Center, who was not involved in the study.

“A person’s biological age depends on the damage that the body accumulates over time, related to illnesses and lifestyle,” Dr. Oen-Hsiao added.

For example, if a 30-year-old male doesn’t exercise, eats a high fat fast food diet, and smokes, his biological age will be older than 30, Oen-Hsiao explained.

“However, patients who have a healthy lifestyle monitoring their health, exercising regularly, maintaining a good weight, and eating a heart-healthy diet, can have a biological age younger than their chronological age.

The connection between cardiovascular health and slow biological aging is thus related. So patients who have a healthy lifestyle and thus improved cardiovascular health will have a lower biological age…or their body’s aging process will be slower than those people who do not have a healthy lifestyle.”

– Dr. Joyce Oen-Hsiao

 How does ‘Life’s Essential 8’ slow biological aging?

The Essential 8 hits on every good lifestyle modification a person can do to improve their health, according to Oen-Hsiao. These include:

1) Diet: Eating a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and lean meats and avoiding trans-fat, fried foods, and sugary foods can help to lose weight, reduce oxidization, lower cholesterol, and prevent diabetes. All of these will help reduce biological age.

2) Activity: Being more activeTrusted Source. AHA recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly.

Moderate aerobic activity includes activities such as walking, jogging, biking, water aerobics, or social dancing.

Vigorous aerobic activity includes running, spinning, swimming laps, or jumping rope. Exercise can reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, and cholesterol. It can also help people lose weight. All of these benefits can help to reduce biological age.

3) Quit tobacco: Smoking cigarettes, vaping, or using e-cigarettes have negative effects on the body, which include higher blood pressure, damage to the blood vessels (because of the toxins), and shortness of breath (due to changes in the lungs which can reduce oxygen exchange).

People who quit smoking can reduce their risk of coronary heart disease by half within a year of quitting. All of the negative effects of smoking lead to increased biological age. By quitting, a person can slow down the biological aging process.

4) Get healthy sleep: People who do not sleep well tend to have higher blood pressure, higher cholesterol, higher sugars, and lower metabolism. These effects can lead to increased weight and obesity. By getting at least 7-9 hours of good sleepTrusted Source, people can improve their cardiovascular health, which slows down biological aging.

5) BMI/weight: Many factors lead to overweight or obesity. Genetics definitely plays a role. However, lifestyle plays a larger role. Eating the wrong foods and a sedentary lifestyle all lead to weight gain.

The increased weight leads to strain on the heart, joint tissues, and other diseases, such as diabetes. These negative effects will accelerate biological aging. To combat this, people should control portions, choose healthy food options, and get active/exercise. Reducing weight to a normal BMI will slow down the biological age.

6) Cholesterol: High cholesterol usually leads to increased cardiovascular inflammation, which can cause increased plaque deposition in the heart arteries. This inflammation and plaque can increase the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Cholesterol comes from two sources: what your body makes (genetic) and what you eat. People cannot change their genetics, but they can change their eating habits. By making healthier choices with foods (specifically to reduce saturated fats and carbohydrates and to eat more vegetables and leaner meats), cholesterol levels can be reduced, decreasing the risk of plaque forming and cardiac inflammation. This will slow down the biological age.

7) Blood sugar: Elevated blood sugar will lead to diabetes. When people have elevated blood sugars, there can be damage to the arteries in the heart, brain, eyes, and kidneys. This leads to the acceleration of atherosclerosis, leading to earlier heart attack and stroke.

Uncontrolled sugars will accelerate a person’s biological age. By reducing blood sugars, the biological age can also slow down. People should avoid eating refined sugars, carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice), and sugary drinks. Exercising will also help to lower blood sugars by “burning off” the excess blood sugars that are circulating.

8) Blood pressure: High blood pressure can strain the cardiovascular system — not only the arteries but also the heart.

Uncontrolled blood pressure can lead to heart failure, stroke, and heart attacks. This strain on the cardiovascular system will accelerate the biological age. Controlling blood pressure can be done with increased activity and heart-healthy eating, especially reducing salt intake.

Along with slowing down biological aging, adhering to the Essential 8 can improve overall health in many ways.

Dr. John Higgins, a cardiologist with UTHealth Houston, not involved in the study, explained that improving your endothelial (vascular) function affects multiple organ systems in a positive way:

Reduces your risk factors:

  • Better blood pressure
  • Better cholesterol
  • Better blood sugar
  • Less smoking

Improves organ function:

  • Better kidney function
  • Better blood flow to the heart, brain, limbs, and muscles — better aerobic exercise capacity
  • Better bone & muscle health, so less likely to fall/fracture
  • Better blood flow to the skin helps skin health and reduces sunburn and skin cancers

“Eating a heart-healthy diet, exercising, getting good sleep, and not smoking can lead to a reduction in blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure. All of these things will lead to reduced weight, which allows people to be more active,” said Oen-Hsiao.

“Keeping an active lifestyle is not only good for the heart, but also the bones/joints. People will have fewer joint issues/muscle aches if they are active consistently daily. Weight loss will take the strain off the joints as well, which will allow for even more activity,” Dr. Oen-Hsiao added.

Lastly, maintaining an exercise routine (you can start at any age) and staying active will help with mood (people who exercise regularly have less depression) and improve the mind (there is less risk of dementia with controlled blood pressure and regular exercise).

Source - Medical News Today