The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT)

Don’t let zombies age you

- Dr. Michael Roizen Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

Q: I’ve been reading about zombie cells and how, as we get older, they start to make us age faster and faster. How can I make sure they don’t ruin my health as I get older? — Dwayne R., Falls Church, Virginia

A: You packed a lot into that question. So, first let me say that having a RealAge of 40 at age 60 is absolutely achievable, and soon, being able to be 40 at age 90 will be more than 80% likely. The full scope of what it takes to do that (the science of self-engineerin­g) is in my book “The Great Age Reboot.” But here, I can tackle your question about zombie cells.

Zombie cells are the result of a natural process called cell senescence. It happens when a cell ages and stops dividing but doesn’t die. Not everything about that process is harmful — it’s essential for wound healing, immunity, and tumor suppressio­n. But if an organ system accumulate­s too many of these indolent cells, it encourages cardiometa­bolic disorders, inflammato­ry conditions, neurodegen­erative diseases and cancer.

In the past 15 years, companies have been exploring ways to stop — and even reverse — these cells’ aging effects. One research team found that removing zombie cells extended the median lifespan of lab mice by 17% to 42%, depending on their sex, diet and genetics. And there’s some indication that eliminatin­g zombie cells can reverse or ease osteoarthr­itis pain, eye disease, insulin resistance and late stage cancers.

But what we know is based on animal models — and the side effects of decreasing the number of senescent cells in humans are largely unknown.

So where does that leave you in your battle against the invading zombies?

— Opt for an immune-supporting, anti-inflammato­ry, plant-based diet. Red and processed meats, saturated fats, added sugars and syrups, and highly processed foods are all super-agers.

— Manage your sleep habits and stress response with “posse (your social network), purpose and play.”

— Enjoy regular physical activity to dispel accumulati­on of senescent cells.

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