Pittsburgh, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — We’ve heard the sayings before – You’re only as old as you feel and Age is just a number, right? Scientists who study aging say there is something to it. Some researchers are working to precisely determine a person’s biological age or how an individual body responds as people get older. There are steps we all can do right now to become “Super Ager.”
Why are people happy and spry as they add years to their lives and others struggle with sickness and disease?
It’s a question that has nagged researcher Aditi Gurkar for years. Her grandparents lived with them growing up. She calls her grandfather a superhero.
Aditi Gurkar, PhD, Cell Biologist and Aging Expert at University of Pittsburgh says, “He could walk up three flights upstairs, he’s in his eighties, washed his own clothes, you know, pick me up from school.”
Her grandmother was the same age, yet she struggled. “Since she was in her 60’s she was constantly getting one disease or the other.” Says Professor Gurkar.
These days, this cell biologist is looking to answer the question of why some people are super agers, seemingly avoiding disease and disability, and others are early agers.
Professor Gurkar says, “As we age, we kind of have these funky looking cells in us called zombie cells. In actual science they’re called senescent cells.”
Those zombie, or senescent cells, release inflammation into surrounding tissue. Inflammation is thought to increase the risk of diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
While researchers work to find ways to rid our bodies of zombie cells, Professor Gurkar says prevention is the key. She says a little exercise goes a long way. Keep a positive attitude. Your mind will tell your body what to do. And eat a healthy diet.
Professor Gurkar says, “If we take small steps today, we may have a healthier tomorrow.
Researchers also say it’s important to maintain an active social life. People who keep strong relationships and friendships tend to live well into their eighties or nineties. Super ager
Contributors to this news report include: Cyndy McGrath, Producer; Kirk Manson, Videographer, Bob Walko, Editor.
HOW TO BE A SUPER AGER: COULD ZOMBIE CELLS BE THE KEY?
BACKGROUND: Super agers are individuals over the age of 80 who have cognitive abilities that are equivalent to or better than those of people who are decades younger than them. These people are unique because they have managed to maintain exceptional cognitive functioning and memory despite their advanced age. Researchers who study super agers have identified several factors that seem to contribute to their exceptional cognitive functioning. One of the most significant factors is genetics. Studies have shown that super agers tend to have specific genetic variants that are associated with better cognitive health and longevity. Super agers tend to have healthy habits, such as engaging in regular exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and avoiding harmful habits like smoking and excessive drinking. These habits can help to protect the brain from age-related decline and preserve cognitive function. Typically, less than one percent of the population reaches over 100 years old.
THE STUDY: Neuroscientist Aditi Gurkar from the University of Pittsburg conducts research on super agers. Gurkar’s research focuses on identifying the factors that contribute to exceptional cognitive functioning in old age, with the goal of developing interventions that can help to improve cognitive health for people of all ages. Gurkar’s research has found that one of the key factors that contribute to super agers’ exceptional cognitive functioning is their brain structure. Super agers tend to have thicker cortexes in certain areas of the brain compared to their peers, which may help to protect against age-related cognitive decline. This finding has important implications for developing interventions to improve cognitive health, as it suggests that engaging in activities that challenge the brain may help to protect against age-related cognitive decline.
NEW REGULATIONS: A recent study, published in the Journal of Gerontology, found that super agers tend to have a higher level of physical activity compared to their peers, and that this physical activity was associated with better cognitive function. Other recent research has explored the role of social engagement and cognitive stimulation in maintaining cognitive health in old age, finding that super agers tend to have active social lives and engage in activities that challenge the brain, such as playing musical instruments, learning new languages, or participating in games that require strategic thinking.
* For More Information, Contact: Asher Jones
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