Science & Spirit: All About Aging

Science & Spirit: All About Aging

Volodymyr Hryshchenko/Unsplash

Organs age at different rates, even a little alcohol shrinks your brain, and steps matter.

More Alcohol, Less Brain

A glass of wine a day is okay…right? Maybe not.

A study led by the University of Pennsylvania indicates that even a few glasses of wine a week could accelerate aging in our brains. Researchers analyzed data from more than 36,000 adults and found a correlation between drinking and reduced brain volume, even at an average consumption of less than a glass of wine a day. The risk rises exponentially with each additional drink. The study noted, “while going from zero to a daily average of one alcohol unit (half a glass of wine) was associated with the equivalent of half a year of aging, the difference between zero and four drinks was more than ten years of aging.”

You might want to think twice about pouring that second glass from now on!

10,000 Steps a Day: Fact or Myth?

Did you know the famous 10,000-steps-a-day mantra is actually from a decades-old marketing campaign for a Japanese pedometer? In fact, there was no scientific data to prove its health benefits.

So, should you continue making 10,000 steps your daily walking goal? Amanda Paluch, an epidemiologist at University of Massachusetts, decided to conduct a study based on this very question.

After analyzing 15 studies involving nearly 50,000 participants, researchers found that the benefits of 10,000 steps can vary depending on age and number of steps taken. To put it simply, the older you get, the less steps you need to take to achieve longevity. According to Paluch, “For adults 60 and older, the risk of premature death leveled off at about 6,000–8,000 steps per day, meaning that more steps than that provided no additional benefit for longevity. Adults younger than 60 saw the risk of premature death stabilize at about 8,000–10,000 steps per day.”

It turns out that the Japanese marketing myth is actually fact. The health benefits of daily walking are endless. But when it comes to longevity, keep these numbers in mind next time you set a daily walking goal.

Aging Isn’t Just a Number, But Many

“How old are you?”

You hear this question countless times throughout your life. But how often do you hear, “How old is your liver?” or “Your kidneys must be over the hill!” It wasn’t until recently that researchers discovered different rates of aging throughout the body. A study published in Cell Reports found that the biological ages of different organs and systems can vary widely due to system interactions, lifestyle factors, and genetics.

Some results were surprising. A more diverse gut microbiota, for example, indicates a younger gut. But this diversity actually sped up aging in the kidneys, “possibly because the diversity of species causes the kidneys to do more work,” investigators stated. Soon, your age may become much more complex than a simple, everyday question.

The study authors hope that their approach can someday be used in healthcare. At your future check-ups, you might receive a detailed list of how aged your different body parts are.

Thinking of taking up a walking practice? Try: “7 Affirmations for Daily Walking Meditations.”

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