However, don’t worry, aging has been proven to be a process, and there is a way to help reverse the aging process.
Aging patients’ brains
The study was published in the journal EClinicalMedicine. Experts from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London Medical School have evaluated the cognitive effects of COVID-19 infection in humans.
Research subjects consisted of COVID-19 patients who were hospitalized with severe illness between March and July 2020.
After these patients recovered from the acute infection, the researchers conducted follow-up visits for an average of six months to analyze and assess their anxiety, depression, and PTSD. The researchers discovered significant reductions in patients’ attention, complex problem-solving skills, and memory, along with decreased accuracy and prolonged reaction time.
These cognitive deficits are similar to the cognitive decline a person may experience between the ages of 50 and 70, which is equivalent to aging for two decades and losing 10 IQ points.
In addition, the recovery of cognitive ability is very slow in patients with COVID-19 infection.
COVID-19 infection can accelerate ‘epigenetic aging clock’
Why does COVID-19 infection cause abnormal aging? Let’s first look at one concept.
The relationship between genes and epigenetics such as seeds and soil. Genes are like seeds, while epigenetics are like soil. Genes in the human body do not usually change after birth. They are like “seeds” that lie in the soil, some of which will grow and some not. What determines whether or not these seeds will grow are genetic ‘keys’ or ‘epigenetic’.
Epigenetics is the study of these factors that influence which genes are turned on or off. Specifically, one common type of gene switch – ‘DNA methylation’ – can alter the expression of genes, shutting them down and rendering them nonfunctional.
As a consequence, whether the same genes can be expressed in different organs and at different ages, the amount of expression varies.
In an article published in Nature Reviews Genetics, Steve Horvath, professor of human genetics and biostatistics at UCLA, concluded that as people age and the number of senescent cells increases, there are characteristic changes in the methylation status of human DNA.
All humans in the world have birth, old age, disease and death, which our scientists have now discovered appears to be controlled at least by our internal epigenetic clock. This is similar to observations that everything in our universe has its own cycle of formation, stagnation, decay and destruction.
Professor Horvath summarized the features of DNA methylation associated with aging in the ‘epigenetic clock of aging’. Biological ages can be estimated using methylation profiles of genes associated with aging. These genetic loci were carefully selected by scientists, regardless of gender, body part, comorbidities and other factors. The results were highly accurate, with over 95 percent accuracy.
Humans have a normal methylation curve of aging. If a person’s DNA methylation is above the curve, he will age faster than his peers; If it is less than the curve, he or she will appear smaller than his peers.
So, what are the factors that can accelerate aging, i.e. the epigenetic clock of aging?
A study conducted in Belgium was published in 2018 in the journal Aging. It was found that the following factors accelerate epigenetic aging in humans:
- Diseases: Viral infections (eg HIV and CMV), neurodegenerative diseases, and cancers.
- Metabolic syndrome: excessively high body mass index, hyperglycemia, inflammatory factors, and hypertension.
- Stress: Post-traumatic stress syndrome, psychological stress, and childhood violence.
This makes us wonder if COVID-19 infection can accelerate the “epigenetic aging clock”.
A study published in Nature Communications answers that question. The study collected blood samples from 232 healthy individuals, 194 non-severe COVID-19 patients, and 213 severe COVID-19 patients for DNA methylation analysis, and found that the epigenetic lifespan of COVID-19 patients was significantly accelerated.
In addition, the acceleration of epigenetic lifespan in COVID-19 patients is related to the stage of the disease. The acceleration of aging is faster during the acute inflammatory phase, when the body and the virus are in severe confrontation; It is slightly reversed during the recovery phase.
Can aging be “contagious”? Aging cells cause 12 major diseases
Even after the infection is over, many people still have protracted COVID symptoms. Is this related to aging caused by COVID-19?
Epigenetic aging is manifested in graying of hair and thinning of teeth. However, at the cellular level, the cells in the human body are also aging gradually.
The term “cellular aging” refers to the state of the cell cycle being halted when cells are stressed, as well as the secretion of various inflammatory cytokines at the same time. In a paper published in Nature Aging, a Japanese research team reports that aging cells do not die immediately, but instead release inflammatory cytokines to nearby uninfected cells, causing more cells to age as well.
So, what are the effects of cellular aging on our health?
Cellular aging plays an important role in many age-related diseases, such as degenerative diseases of the nerves, eyes, lungs, and heart.
Do COVID-19 vaccines also cause cellular aging?
The above study was conducted prior to the outbreak of the Omicron variant, and the Omicron variant is clearly less pathogenic than the old strain. Indeed, some mutation sites of the omicron variant counteracted the factors that caused cellular senescence. It is estimated that Omicron causes much fewer aging or sequelae than the older strain.
However, the vaccines we are currently giving are still being developed using ancient strain proteins in early 2020, so is there a risk of accelerated aging?
COVID-19 vaccines mainly express spike proteins in the human body. In a study published in the Journal of Virology in 2021, researchers from Saint Louis University in Missouri transferred spiny proteins from the ancient strain into cells in the lab. It was later discovered that a large number of markers of cellular senescence (including specific cytokines, interleukins, specific enzymes, etc.) were found in the infected cells, compared to the control group.
In addition, spiny proteins increase inflammatory factors, cause mitochondrial damage, produce unfolded proteins, and cause genetic instability, all of which accelerate cell aging.
There is a way to reverse aging
Reversing the aging process sounds like a dream come true for everyone. We already understand many mechanisms related to aging, so is it possible to find a way to slow down or even reverse aging?
In fact, our daily diet, work habits and lifestyle influence the epigenetic aging clock. For example, during high-temperature cooking, red meat produces end products accompanied by glycosylation, which is associated with cellular aging; Poultry and fish are relatively healthy; And the vitamins in fruits and vegetables help keep cells young, which helps slow or reverse the aging clock.
In addition, here we present you another method that has been proven to reverse the aging process.
In an article published in 2017 in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, American and French scientists investigated whether sitting in meditation affects the epigenetic aging clock.
Study subjects were 18 people who had been meditating for at least 10 years and meditating for at least 30 minutes per day, and 20 non-meditators. They were divided into two groups: under 52 years and over, respectively. The researchers measured DNA methylation in blood cells to estimate the acceleration of epigenetic aging.
The results showed that the epigenetic aging acceleration increased in the elderly non-meditators, while the acceleration in the elderly meditators was more similar to the young and was not affected by the effect of epigenetic aging.
Gene expression is also associated with changes in our appearance, so meditators look younger than their actual ages. Furthermore, meditators also have younger brains.
UCLA and the Australian National University published a joint study in 2016 in the journal NeuroImage. The study subject was 250 meditators and 50 non-meditators, both groups with a mean age of 51.4 years.
The researchers analyzed and compared the brain ages of the two groups and found that the meditators’ brain ages were younger than their actual age. For example, the 50-year-old meditators had the same brain age as the 42.5-year-old non-meditator, while the 60-year-old meditators had the same brain age as the 51-year-old non-meditators in the control group.
Interestingly, for meditators over 50, each additional year of their actual age will make their brain 1 month and 22 days younger than their actual age.
In short, another harm caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the human body is the acceleration of the human epigenetic clock of aging and the damping of the brain, and vaccines designed on the basis of ancient strains in 2020 may also harm the human body in this regard. .
At least 67 percent of the world’s population has been vaccinated; Will people grow up in the future easily? No, it is too early to conclude based on cellular data alone rather than human studies. However, cellular data is a clear reminder to us to take precautions to prevent this.
Meanwhile, it is very concerning that when we discussed this topic during the 1+1 Health Live broadcast on July 12, 2022, quite a few members of the audience commented that they themselves, their friends or relatives got older after taking the punches.
The good news is that aging is a long process. During this process, for example, we can develop the habit of daily meditation, which can help slow down or even reverse the aging process, and moreover bring us many positive health benefits, which will be detailed in future articles.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Epoch Times. Epoch Health welcomes professional discussion and friendly discussion. To submit an opinion piece, please follow these guidelines and submit it through our form here.