The keys to aging well: Circadian rhythms, diet, & exercise

The keys to aging well lie within our everyday habits. Many search for the fountain of youth in pills, powders, devices, and other low effort approaches. Unfortunately, at this time, it’s not that easy.

We’re creatures of habit, and our daily habits exert powerful control over our health. If those daily habits are destructive, they’ll shorten our healthspan & lifespan. Meanwhile, if they’re good, we have a good chance of aging well.

A recent review paper discusses 3 major daily habits and their effect on our regenerative capacity. We often consider the 3 habits they discuss as the 3 pillars of health: Sleep, diet, and exercise.

In today’s blog we’ll cover this review and how you can use it to your advantage.

What is regeneration?

The paper defines regeneration as:

Regeneration can be defined as the biological processes allowing the cells, organs and tissues to renew and proliferate.

Every day, we go out in life and incur some level of damage to the cells that make up our organs and tissues. Consequently, we have systems in place to repair this damage.

For example, eating is a highly inflammatory process. Through the normal course of eating and thereafter, damage occurs to cells in our intestine. However, we have systems in place to repair the damage.

Damaged cells die or undergo apoptosis. The immune system or flow of feces sloughs them off, and intestinal stem cells replace them. As a result, we go back out the next day as we did the previous.

Therefore, our regenerative capacity is the balance between breakdown and repair. It plays an integral part in aging well and avoiding disease.

If it’s adequate, we recover fresh as a daisy. For instance, our skin stays moist and smooth and our digestion works well.

But most importantly, if regenerative capacity is poor, our decay speeds up. Our skin is dry and weak, our mental faculties decrease, and our digestion is bunk.

How the 3 pillars of health impact regenerative capacity

We get a glimpse into how the 3 pillars of health affects out regenerative capacity when we look at aging and obesity. In both conditions, regenerative capacity declines.

People with either condition experience poor wound healing. Furthermore, there’s functional decline in many organs in both conditions.

Respiratory infections such as COVID-19 also hit these groups harder. As a result, they’re more likely to be hospitalized, experience prolonged illness, or die.

But why is this the case? The authors of this review lay out the mechanisms nicely, which you can see in the following image:

Aging well requires maintaining regenerative capacity

Ultimately, both conditions lead to increased systemic inflammation, impaired metabolism, and high oxidative stress. These 3 factors alter the regenerative capacity in organs throughout the body.

The reason behind this is that inflammation, metabolism, and redox state play an important role in regeneration.

At this point, living a healthy lifestyle with good circadian habits, proper sleep, a proper diet, and regular exercise are the best therapeutic options we have for aging well.


If your goal is to live a long, happy, and healthy life, the most important thing you can do is live a healthy lifestyle. While we currently don’t have great medical options in the form of medicines or procedures, we may have some in the future.

The best thing you can do now, while you wait for the potential fountain of youth, is focus on the 3 pillars of health. Firstly, build good circadian and sleep habits. Most are unaware, but circadian rhythms control many aspects of tissue regeneration, so they are essential:

Secondly, find a healthy diet that works for you to attain and maintain a healthy weight. Ideally, this diet will also contain a good amount of protein, plant foods of many colors, and minimize processed foods and alcohol.

Finally, exercise is essential to optimal health. What’s the best type of exercise for building health? The kind you like to do and that you’ll do multiples times a week.

I personally like strength training and cardio on a Rogue Echo Bike. I also track my activity and other variables using a Fitbit Charge 5. But what works may be completely different.

For more guidance, check out our homepage here where we layout many of the resources we have on the blog to help you find your best lifestyle.

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