The secret to staying young

Get enough sleep, drink enough water, eat healthily and don’t push yourself too hard. That’s the message from researchers who have been looking into why we grow old.

Researcher Szymek Drobniak from the University of NSW says doing these things “won’t buy you eternal life, but it should keep your cells ticking along nicely.”

And it’s the condition of your body’s cells and the DNA – the genetic material in them - that’s crucial to how you age and how quick it happens.

When cells divide and replicate, they also make a copy of the DNA. However, a tiny portion is always lost at one end of the DNA molecule. The process leads inevitably to the death of the cell.

Stress clock

So, what are the factors that speed up or slow down this process? It seems cells die faster when they are stressed, for example when they lose too much water. Tiredness and overwork put us under chronic stress, as does feeling anxious for prolonged periods. Lack of sleep or emotional stress can alter internal cellular pathways, including DNA and cellular functioning.

The research suggests that by reducing stress, we can do our bodies a big favour.

You can read more about this research in The Conversation.

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