It’s no secret that people who follow plant-based diets are generally less prone to obesity and disease; however, a recent study has found that switching to a health-conscious diet and lifestyle can actually reverse cell aging.
The Preventive Medicine Research Institute and the University of California, San Francisco, conducted a small study of 35 men in their 50s and 60s. 10 of the men were switched to a mostly vegan diet, rich in plant-based protein, fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains and legumes, for a total of five years. They also exercised for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, six days a week, and did some type of stress management (like meditation, yoga or stretching) for an hour every day.
At the end of the five year study, the 10 men who made healthy lifestyle changes showed a 10% lengthening of their cells’ telomeres, implying that the cells would have a longer lifespan. The other 25 men, who has not made any lifestyle changes, showed a 3% shortening in cell telomeres.
According to the study’s leader, Dr. Dean Ornish, “[s]hortened temomeres have been shown to play a role in heart disease, colon cancer, stroke, dementia, and premature death. But our study is the first to show that any intervention could lengthen telomeres.”
Although the study was conducted on a small scale, Dr. David Katz, a prevention medicine specialist at Yale University’s Prevention Research Center, believes the finding to be very valuable. He said “[t]he message we’re getting from this and other studies is consistent: We don’t have the medical capacity to tweak genes and make chronic diseases to away, but we can refashion our fate at the level of our DNA by the behavior choices we make.”
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