New research suggests that hyperbaric oxygen therapy may reverse aging in healthy adults. Although this finding isn’t the fountain of youth, it does suggest we may be able to trigger some of our cells to grow younger.
What is aging?
Aging is the “time-related deterioration of the physiological functions necessary for survival and fertility.” Many factors contribute to the aging process, but on a biological level some of the main causes are damage inflicted by free radicals and the shortening of telomeres. Our lifestyle choices, genetics, and environmental factors all play a role in these and other causes of aging and how it progresses in each of us.
What is hyperbaric oxygen treatment?
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a treatment approach used to accelerate healing of diabetic wounds that won’t heal, gangrene, decompression sickness, bone infections, crush injuries, infections involving tissues starved for oxygen, and carbon monoxide and cyanide poisoning. However, new ways to use this therapy are evolving, and the fight against aging is one of them.
The treatment process involves being in a special chamber where you breathe in pure oxygen at an air pressure that is up to three times greater than average. This fills an individual’s blood with enough oxygen to heal tissues and help the body resume normal function..
What did the hyperbaric oxygen study uncover?
Researchers at Tel Aviv University and the Shamir Medical Center in Israel discovered that use of a unique set of treatments involving hyperbaric oxygen was able to reverse two major processes associated with aging and related ailments:
The shortening of telomeres, which are protective “caps” at the ends of every chromosome. Telomeres typically get shorter every time a cell copies itself, although the critical DNA stays intact. Over time, telomeres get so short the cells begin to age and won’t function properly. Therefore, stopping or hindering the shortening of telomeres helps slow aging.
The accumulation of old, malfunctioning cells, which are also known as senescent cells. These cells are incapable of dividing but they are still alive.
This study was conducted as part of a research program that is exploring aging as a reversible phenomenon. In the past, the scientists found that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can improve brain function when the organ has been damaged by stroke, age, or injury.
In this latest study, the participants included 35 healthy adults aged 64 or older who received 60 hyperbaric sessions over 90 days. Overall, the researchers found that use of the hyperbaric oxygen treatment on immune cells obtained from volunteers resulted in a lengthening of the telomeres of up to 38 percent and a decrease in the presence of senescent cells of up to 37 percent.
According to the authors of the study, “Today telomere shortening is considered the ‘Holy Grail’ of the biology of aging.” The protocol used in this study was able to show that aging can be reversed at a cellular level. They pointed out that while various lifestyle habits can inhibit the effect of telomere shortening to some extent, hyperbaric oxygen therapy was able to better those rates “far beyond any currently available interventions or lifestyle modifications.”
Other ways to slow or reverse aging
Certain lifestyle choices and modifications can contribute to efforts to slow or reverse the aging process.
- Consider fisetin: This flavonoid has been shown to have senolytic abilities. That means it helps cause the death of senescent cells, which may then lead to the delay, prevention, or alleviation of aging. Research demonstrated that fisetin was the most potent senolytic among ten tested, and that it showed positive results in mice and human tissue. Fisetin is available as a supplement.
- Eat antiaging foods. Some foods are especially good sources of nutrients and antioxidants that can help fight free radicals and promote health. A few of the nutrient-dense foods to include on your plate as often as possible are watercress, red bell peppers, broccoli, blueberries, spinach, salmon, tomatoes, nuts, and avocados.
- Fasting. Research shows that fasting, including intermittent fasting, and calorie restriction can help slow the aging process.
- Stop bad habits. Smoking, excessive consumption of alcohol (1 drink daily for women and 2 for men is considered moderate), and too much saturated fat don’t promote longevity.
- Get sufficient sleep. Seven to eight hours nightly is ideal. The body requires sleep time to repair cells and tissues, rest the heart, and keep the brain functioning properly.
- Stay active. Keep physically, mentally, and socially active. Individuals who exercise their body, mind, and spirit better keep aging at bay.
- Consider antiaging supplements. Certain herbs, nutrients, and spices are endowed with antiaging properties, so including them in your diet may be helpful. Some of them include curcumin, epigallocatechin gallate (found in green tea), coenzyme Q10, nicotinamide riboside and nicotinamide mononucleotide, garlic, and resveratrol.
Interest in anti-aging methods is high, and research into the process, prevention, and reversal of aging is ongoing. Use of hyperbaric oxygen therapy has been shown to be a possible player in the antiaging field, but more investigation is needed. Fr now, we can follow lifestyle antiaging techniques as we wait for other ways to combat the aging process.