Scientist Using an Automatic Pipette

What Cellular Senescence Is and How to Slow It Down

For SHA Wellness Clinic
Thursday February 3rd, 2022
Health & Beauty
A healthy lifestyle is crucial when it comes to slowing down the ageing process both physically and at the cellular level.

Being born, growing, reproducing (dividing in the case of cells) and dying is the life cycle of every living thing. But the time from birth to death is different for each organism. Cellular senescence is the ageing process of cells which, when they reach a certain stage, stop duplicating, but do not die, entering a kind of hibernation phase. These senescent cells, which remain active, accumulate in the tissues and release harmful substances that can cause various diseases. As Vicente Mera, head of the Genomic Medicine and Healthy Ageing Unit at SHA Wellness Clinic, comments, ‘it was once believed that cells have an infinite capacity to divide, but now we know that there is a limit. In addition, every organ and cell has a different senescence. For example, red blood cells are created in the bone marrow, where they pass into the bloodstream and, 90 days later, they die in the spleen. In other words, their life cycle is three months long. White blood cells, on the other hand, have a life cycle of 15 days’.

But there comes a time when the cells stop dividing, known as the Hayflick limit. Vicente explains that ‘Dr Leonard Hayflick demonstrated in the laboratory that the number of duplications a cell is capable of before entering senescence is limited, with a maximum of 60 times. At present, we don’t yet know all the factors that influence senescence, but we do know that the passage of time is its main cause and that certain processes, such as oxidation or glycation, accelerate it. And there is scientific evidence that 30% of senescence is due to genetic reasons and is therefore very difficult to modify. On the other hand, the other 70% depends on the lifestyle we lead, and it is within our power to change it. To slow down this biological clock, it is essential to follow a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet rich in antioxidants, such as those found in berries, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds and tea. In addition, it is important to avoid foods that accelerate it, such as processed foods, dairy products, meat, saturated fats and sugar. Learning to manage stress and emotions, getting regular moderate physical exercise and having good sleep and rest habits are also healthy practices that help to delay senescence. Finally, there are some drugs that help to slow down the process, such as metformin, an anti-diabetic drug that controls blood sugar levels and, in low doses, produces an improvement in ageing’.


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