During a recent health forum hosted by the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP), Dr. Eduardo Rommel Poblete, a geriatric expert from St. Luke's Medical Center, shed light on the profound impact of stress on the aging process. Contrary to popular belief, Dr. Poblete explained that aging begins at conception, rather than at the age of 60. His insights offer a fresh perspective on a universally relevant subject, given that the World Health Organization (WHO) reported a global population of 1 billion in the age group of 60 and above in 2020, with the figure expected to rise to 1.4 billion by 2030.
Understanding Aging and Mental Health
As per the Global Health Estimates of 2019, approximately 14 percent of people aged 60 and above have a mental disorder. Dr. Poblete drew a crucial distinction between chronological and biological aging. While chronological aging commences at birth, biological aging encompasses the aging of organ systems. Recent scientific research, including a study published in Cell Metabolism in May 2023, has discovered that stress can hasten biological aging by inducing inflammation and DNA damage.
The Role of Lifestyle in Aging
Dr. Poblete accentuated the significance of a healthy lifestyle in mitigating the aging process. He noted that the objective in geriatrics is primarily functional improvement, not the curing of aging, as most diseases associated with aging are irreversible. He also cautioned that conditions typically linked with advanced age, such as osteoarthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and heart failure, can also afflict younger individuals.
Behaviors that Can Accelerate Aging
There are certain behaviors known to accelerate the aging process. These include alcohol consumption, junk food intake, lack of sun protection, sleep deprivation, chronic stress, smoking, a sedentary lifestyle, high sugar intake, sleeping with makeup on, and high salt intake. By steering clear of these behaviors, one can potentially look and feel younger.
Biological changes that occur in the human body after the age of 50, such as cellular senescence, free radical damage, hormone level changes, genetic factors, lifestyle influences, and environmental factors, further underscore the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle and minimizing stress to slow down the aging process.