For as long as there have been humans, there have been humans who wanted to slow down aging. From Juan Ponce de Leon’s search for the fountain of youth to Chris Traeger’s mission to live to 150 years old, humans have always been fascinated with maintaining their youth and prolonging their lives.
There is fascinating research being done on the role that CBD might play in helping to slow down certain aspects of the process of aging. But in the quest to stay as young and healthy as possible for as long as possible, there are a lot of questions we need to answer. Why do our bodies age and what causes it? What can I do to slow down the process of aging? Are there ways to supplement my body to keep aging at bay? In this article we’ll look at all the wrinkles of what causes our wrinkles so that we can have a better understanding of the aging process and how CBD might help to stave it off. So, let’s get going while we’re still young.
What is aging?
Duh. Getting old, right? Except that understanding how and why we age isn’t quite that simple. The study of human aging is called gerontology and there are many different theories, both competing and complementary, as to how and why our bodies start to lose their functionality as we get older. Generally, there are two types of aging that gerontologists focus upon; intrinsic (or programmed) aging and extrinsic (or damage related) aging.
Intrinsic theories of aging suggest that our cells are only programmed to live for so long. This lifespan is to some degree encoded into the cells and as time passes the cells go through a natural life cycle of growth and decline. The major theories of why intrinsic aging occurs include:
- Gene theory: that specific genes activate and deactivate over the course of a life, causing periods of generation (growing) and degeneration (aging).
- Endocrine theory: this is a theory that our aging process is caused by changes (both increases and decreases) in the levels of hormones produced by our endocrine system over our lifespans
- Immunological theory: this theory suggests that as we get older, our immune response declines which causes the body to age and become more susceptible to disease
Extrinsic aging instead suggests that aging is caused by external factors. Also known as damage related aging, this theory believes that over time the body accumulates more and more damage and stress that causes biological systems to degrade and ultimately fail. There are many extrinsic theories of aging, but the dominant theories are:
- Wear and tear theory: This theory suggests that cells become increasingly damaged over time and the body becomes unable to maintain the level of repair necessary to keep pace with the damage.
- Genome instability theory: The idea behind this theory is that the reason the body ages is that damage to the body makes the human genome unstable. This leads to the body being unable to repair DNA damage, slowing and altering the way that new cells are generated.
- Cross-linkage theory: According to this theory, aging is caused by a buildup of various proteins within the body. These proteins become linked to glucose which then makes them damage the body. This hinders cell repair and slows biological functions.
- Free radical theory: This theory states that aging is caused by the buildup of free radicals without enough antioxidants to offset their effects. Free radicals create oxidative stress on the body and antioxidants help counteract those effects but over time the damage created by free radicals takes its toll.
All these aging theories have scientific support as well as detraction. Most gerontologists agree that aging is a combination of many theories, both intrinsic and extrinsic. To counteract the effects of aging, one must consider all the possible causes.
Can CBD help reduce aging?
A 2022 research study has suggested that CBD may help in reduce one of the causes of aging. That cause is called compromised autophagy. I know, more big words that we don’t recognize, but it’s not that hard to understand. Let’s take a closer look.
Autophagy is a fundamental cellular process that is designed to remove unwanted molecules and degraded cells from the body. The word is ancient Greek for “self-devouring”. It’s a complicated process involving many more big words but basically, autophagy is like having a subcellular garbage man pick up the things your body doesn’t want or need and get rid of them, so they don’t continue to clutter everything up. This process helps to get rid of things like proteins, lipids, and nucleic acids that are not needed or are damaged. You can read a more in-depth explanation of autophagy here.
As we age, autophagy becomes compromised, and the body becomes less capable of removing these unwanted molecules. The buildup of these unremoved particles causes stress and damage to the body’s functions. It’s not totally clear whether compromised autophagy comes intrinsic aging, extrinsic aging, or both. However, scientific evidence suggests that as we age, compromised autophagy plays a significant role in the aging process.
This is where CBD comes in. In the study, researchers found evidence that CBD may help to induce autophagy and prevent it becoming compromised. Because compromised autophagy plays a significant role in accelerating the aging process, CBD’s role in potentially inducing autophagy and preventing its decline is important. This evidence suggests that by aiding autophagy, CBD may help extend an organism’s lifespan as well mitigate the deterioration associated with aging. If you’re interested in reading the entirety of the scientific study, you can find it here.
It needs to be said that the study of CBD’s effects on the aging process are still in the earliest stages and more research needs to be done before we can fully understand its impact.
Aging is the decrease in function and eventual failure of the body’s cellular processes over time.
Aging is caused by a combination of internal and external factors that our bodies face. Internal factors include genetic, hormonal, and immunological changes over time. External factors include injuries, disease, environmental factors, and diet that cause cumulative damage over time.
Early studies suggest that CBD is helpful in preventing an aging process known as compromised autophagy, in which the body becomes unable to remove unwanted cellular and subcellular compounds. Additionally, CBD can play a beneficial role in strategies used to combat aging.
Ways that a person can combat aging include a healthy diet, an active lifestyle, a consistent pattern of sufficient restful sleep, and taking steps to reduce stress whenever possible.
Other ways to combat aging
Because the aging process is so complex, there are a variety of ways you can approach to keep your body as healthy and youthful as possible for as long as possible. Some of them may seem obvious but that’s because being healthy isn’t particularly complicated, it just requires dedication. Some of the best habits for combatting the aging process are:
Studies have shown that diet and caloric intake go a long way in keeping the effects of aging at bay. Eating a healthy, balanced diet comprised of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich foods will support healthy organ function and increased longevity. This includes lots of green and leafy vegetables, fresh fruits and berries, lean proteins, and healthy fats from nuts and natural oils. On the flip side, eating foods with added sugars, refined carbohydrates, fried foods, processed meats, and trans fats can cause damage to both cell function and lifespan.
Sedentary behavior is strongly associated increased risk for a variety of factors that accelerate aging and decrease longevity. Finding ways to stand up more by using a standing desk, standing during phone conversations, or sitting timers to remind yourself to stand throughout the day can go a long way in decreasing those negative effects. But it’s not enough to just stand, you should also be moving throughout the day. Adding aerobic movement to your lifestyle has a significant benefit to lung and heart healthy and strength training can help with bone strength and support. If you’ve decided to become more active or already live an active lifestyle, CBD can be helpful addition to your pre-workout and recovery process. Read more about it here.
During sleep is not just when your body recharges, it is also when it rebuilds. Establishing a healthy sleep schedule can have a dramatic impact on long-term health. Prolonged periods of poor or insufficient sleep can lead to a higher likelihood for heart disease, infection, and obesity. Exercising good sleep habits is an effective way to prolong health for a long time. Thankfully, this is another area CBD can help with. If you’d like to learn more about how CBD can help you find a better night’s sleep, check out our blog post here.
While it’s impossible to go through life without any stress, it’s important to recognize if your stress levels have become chronic or unmanageable. Persistent, long-term stress is linked to heart attack, stroke, diabetes, immune disorders, and digestive issues. Avoiding stress is easier said than done. Habits like meditation, daily gratitude exercises, and maintaining an active social life have all been shown to benefit those with chronic stress. This is also another of the many ways that CBD can play a role in combatting aging, as CBD has been shown to have relaxing properties.
Aging can be an uncomfortable topic to face head on but with a community of knowledge we can do all that we can to make sure we stay as healthy and youthful for as long as we can. If you have any questions, comments, or tips, we’d love to hear from you in the comment section at the bottom of this article. And if you’d like to talk to us more privately about how you can add CBD to your lifestyle, you can contact us at any time.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR, SCOTT JONES
Scott Jones is a freelance writer, author, and digital marketer from Akron, Ohio. He loves to research and write about any and all topics that fascinate him, including CBD. He could afford to watch a few fewer movies and eat a few more vegetables. Connect with him on LinkedIn, Instagram, or read other posts by Scott.