Five of six women who followed the eight-week intervention – consisting of guidance on diet, sleep, exercise, and relaxation; supplemental probiotics and phytonutrients; and nutritional coaching – experienced a reduction in biological age, according to the US-based researchers. One participant saw no change.
“The findings of this case series add to the existing evidence suggesting that widely accessible, cost-effective dietary and lifestyle interventions, that are designed to support DNA methylation and are widely considered to be safe, may be able to reduce measures of biological ageing and have the potential to impact healthspan, lifespan, and the economic burden of ageing,” the authors reported in the journal Aging.
Intervention reduces biological age by an average of 4.60 years
Five of the six study participants exhibited a biological age reduction of between 1.22 and 11.01 years from baseline, DNA methylation and biological age analysis – using the Horvath DNAmAge clock, normalised using the SeSAMe pipeline – conducted on blood samples showed.
There was a statistically significant (p=.039) difference in participants’ mean biological age before (55.83 years) and after (51.23 years) the eight-week intervention, with an average decrease of 4.60 years.
The supplements prescribed included two daily doses of greens powder, as well as two capsules of probiotics containing Lactobacillus plantarum 299v. Participants were instructed to have at least one daily serving of methylation adaptogens – such as berries, rosemary, turmeric, garlic, or green and oolong tea – as well as three servings of liver or liver supplements per week.
Other foods they were encouraged to incorporate included dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, colourful vegetables, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and eggs.
Lifestyle modifications included a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity at least five days a week. All participants were also encouraged to get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night, and to participate in two 10-minute breathing sessions per day.
DNA methylation patterns as a biomarker for healthy ageing
DNA methylation has received increased attention in recent years, with experts acknowledging these patterns as important biomarkers for healthy ageing.
One human trial looking at DNA methylation patterns suggested that it may be possible to slow the pace of ageing by restricting calorie intake.
The modifiable lifestyle intervention used in this case series was first investigated in a pilot clinical trial in which participants – men aged between 50 and 72 years – reduced their biological age by an average of 3.23 years compared to controls, the authors said.
“The case series reported on herein was conducted to further the investigation of a modifiable lifestyle intervention that was largely the same in other populations; importantly, in women,” they added.
Biological age changes unrelated to disease improvement
The researchers acknowledged that the small size of the study population was a limitation.
However, as the average chronological age at the start of the programme was 57.9 years and all but one participant had a biological age younger than their chronological age at the start of the programme, they suggest that the changes were unrelated to disease improvement and instead might be attributed to underlying ageing mechanisms.
“This case series of women participants extends the previous pilot study of this intervention in men, indicating that favourable biological age changes may be achievable in both sexes,” they wrote.
“In addition, the investigation of otherwise-healthy individuals, rather than those with diagnosed disease, suggests an influence directly on underlying mechanisms of ageing instead of disease-driven ageing.”