Everyone knows the importance of eating right and regular exercise – unfortunately, most people fail to follow these simple guidelines. Many of the major consequences of a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet, such as a higher risk of heart disease and obesity, are well-known. In addition to these problems, however, a lack of diet and exercise might also speed up the aging process.
A Junk Food Diet
A 2016 study, conducted by researchers from the Mayo Clinic Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging, found that a healthy lifestyle might put the brakes on aging. Specifically, staying active and eating right could prevent the premature build-up of senescent cells, thereby keeping age-related health problems at bay.
This report, which was published in the journal Diabetes, based its conclusions on two separate groups of mice. Depending on their group, the rodents were assigned one of two diets; one consisted of “fast-food” products, while the other featured healthier alternatives. Those in the former group subsisted on an intake of products loaded with saturated fat, cholesterol and sugar.
As you might expect, consumption of large quantities of fast food has a similar impact to mice as it does on humans. In about a four month period, the junk food eating rodents saw their fat mass soar by roughly 300 percent. It is worth noting that this new fat congregated around the mice’s midsection, an area of the body that encases several crucial organs.
Around and Around
The study authors also provided half of the mice with exercise wheels; of this group, some were assigned the fast-food diet, while others ate healthier fare. This regular exercise appeared to suppress fat buildup and weight gain amongst rodents who lived on junk food. Likewise, the “health food” mice also benefited from this regular physical activity.
Dr. Nathan LeBrasseur, the study’s lead author, stated that his team’s work demonstrated the effects of diet and exercise on aging. “We think at both a biological level and a clinical level, poor nutrition choices and inactive lifestyles do accelerate aging. So now we’ve shown this in very fine detail at a cellular level, and we can see it clinically,” LeBrasseur stated. “So that doesn’t mean that we need to be marathon runners, but we need to find ways to increase our habitual activity levels to stay healthy and prevent processes that drive aging and aging-related.”