The following was contributed by Dr. Valeria Acampora
Since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others have identified the most vulnerable populations for the virus as the elderly and those with age-related diseases, such as hypertension, diabetes, cancer, heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, etc. These individuals show a much higher susceptibility to the disease and lower chance of survival. As a recent scientific study reports, these findings establish COVID-19 as an emergent disease of aging, and “age” and “age-related diseases” as its major risk factors (Santesmasses D, et al. 2020). Another study suggests that, in addition to therapeutic approaches that affect the virus directly and its specific pathways, approaches that target the aging process will play a crucial role in reducing the impact of future pandemics (Thomas R. Wood, et al. 2020). Age-related diseases are largely driven by lifestyle factors, such as poor diet, physical inactivity, poor sleep, chronic stress, smoking, substances abuse, lack of social support, as well as other psychosocial factors, etc. Making better choices when it comes to our diet, exercise, sleep and mental health/psychology (the so called “Lifestyle Medicine”) can help prevent or reverse diseases of aging. Even “age” itself, traditionally thought by scientists to be an unmodifiable risk factor for disease and mortality, may be partially modifiable. This happens because essentially, everyone has two ages: a chronological age, that is the actual amount of time a person has been alive, and a biological age, a measure of how well or poorly their body is functioning relative to their actual calendar age. We can influence our biological age by changing our lifestyle.
Here is what we can do: