Healthy Aging

Did Your Pregnancy Make You Old

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Did Your Pregnancy Make You Old about Bone & Muscle Defense

“Those kids will be the death of me,” an exasperated mother might scream. Yet that phrase may be far more literal than the put-upon parent would have imagined. New research shows that each pregnancy adds more than two years to a woman’s biological age.

Mothers shouldn’t despair because there’s also some excellent news.

The Link Between Reproduction And Longevity

Those of us who are parents know that having children comes at a cost. There’s the financial strain of caring for them from infancy through college and—gulp—even into young adulthood. Then there’s the emotional toll parenting can take on the body. Finally, there’s also a cost to the maintenance and repair of a woman’s body and her physical health; at least, that’s what evolutionary theory tells us. Historical research does bear this out.

A thousand years of British aristocratic records up to the 19th century show that the more offspring there are, the shorter the mother’s postmenopausal lifespan. Similar findings were found for settlers of early Québec and the South-West United States.

Maybe the theory was valid for past generations. Still, with all the improvements in health and medicine over the last century, doubts exist about whether there’s a tradeoff between reproduction and longevity.

To find out if it’s true, you’d need a reliable method of testing the aging impact of pregnancy, which hasn’t been available. But now it is, thanks to the development of biological aging clocks.

Two new studies using these clocks came up with some interesting findings.

Pregnancy Speeds Up Biological Aging

Biological age reflects how well a person’s cells, tissues, and organs are aging as distinct from age since birth. We’ve reported on rapid agers and the various tests and clocks that have been developed that measure biological age from changes that take place over time in molecules attached to DNA.

The first study using a biological aging clock came from Columbia University, New York researchers. The team examined 825 women aged 20 to 22 from the Philippines and a subset of these women aged 25 to 31. A similar number of fathers in these age groups were also included.

The findings, using six measures of aging, showed that each pregnancy added between 2.4 and 2.8 months of biological aging.

Women who had the most children were biologically older than those who had less, while fathers got off scot-free; they weren’t aged by their partner’s pregnancy at all. The results still held even after accounting for factors tied to biological aging, such as socioeconomic status, smoking, and genetic variations.1

Dr. Calen Ryan, who led the research, said: “Our findings suggest that pregnancy speeds up biological aging, and that these effects are apparent in young, high-fertility women. Our results are also the first to follow the same women through time, linking changes in each woman’s pregnancy number to changes in her biological age.

“Many of the reported pregnancies in our baseline measure occurred during late adolescence when women are still growing. We expect this kind of pregnancy to be particularly challenging for a growing mother, especially if her access to healthcare, resources, or other forms of support is limited.”2

The study demonstrates that pregnancy takes its toll on the body. Still, the second study found some great news… dramatic changes in the opposite direction after giving birth, especially if a woman breastfeeds her babies.

Postpartum Health: Women Grow Younger Again

The Yale study included 119 pregnant American women who were tracked from early to late pregnancy, about 20 weeks. Their results aligned with the Columbia findings, which showed an acceleration in biological age by two years.

But what they saw after birth was a surprise, as senior author Kieran O’Donnell explained.

“At three months postpartum, we saw a substantial decrease in biological age, by as much as eight years for some individuals, so while pregnancy increases biological age, there is a clear (and pronounced) recovery in the postpartum.”3

In addition, they found that a higher body mass index before pregnancy hurt recovery after birth, so there wasn’t as much benefit from the age reversal effect.

Breastfeeding Accelerates Age Reversal by Up to Eight Years!

This contrasted with breastfeeding, which resulted in a steep decline. The mothers who breastfed exclusively saw an amazing age reversal: The new moms became “younger” by as much as eight years!

Dr. O’Donnell said these findings leave many unanswered questions and provide an interesting new direction for aging research.

“First, we don’t know if the postpartum recovery effect is relevant for short- or long-term maternal health outcomes and if these effects accumulate over successive pregnancies. Likewise, we don’t know if the postpartum decrease in biological age is simply the system recovering to pre-pregnancy biological age or, more provocatively, if pregnancy may have a rejuvenating effect.”

We would love to see more research on this area as well. When it comes to breastfeeding, breast milk is certainly nourishing for babies, but it also contains important nutrients that can help adults, too. We’re talking about colostrum. This unique compound has been called “liquid gold” for its many health benefits, including:

  • Powerful Immune Support: Colostrum is rich in antibodies, particularly IgA, which protects against infections.
  • Supplying Nutrient-Rich Growth Factors: Colostrum contains high levels of proteins, vitamins, and minerals essential for the growth and development of babies and can help adult bodies repair themselves.
  • Strengthening Gut Health: Colostrum promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and helps the digestive system.
  • Offering Anti-inflammatory Properties: Colostrum reduces inflammation and supports overall health.

Supplemental colostrum is usually sourced from cows, and a number of products are available in powder and capsule form for people of all ages.

Our Takeaway

Whether you’ve had children or not, this news is an excellent reminder of the body’s ability to recover from physical stresses like pregnancy, especially when maintaining a healthy weight. Our bodies have a fantastic ability to regenerate themselves when given the chance.

So, let it encourage you to make wise lifestyle choices with your diet, supplementation, and exercise regimens. And, if you or a loved one is planning to become pregnant, the research is another reason to encourage breastfeeding when possible to reap the dramatic anti-aging benefits.

  1. Ryan CP, et al. Pregnancy is linked to faster epigenetic aging in young women Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2024 Apr 16;121(16):e2317290121.
  2. Columbia News: Pregnancy Accelerates Biological Aging in Healthy Young Adults April 8, 2024
  3. Yale School of Medicine: Does Pregnancy Accelerate Aging? Yale Findings Suggest It Does – at First March 22, 2024
Bone & Muscle Defense

Bone & Muscle Defense

Derived from the amino acid leucine, myHMB®️ is a highly concentrated, proprietary breakthrough in muscle support and protection. Along with myHMB®️, Bone and Muscle Defense also contains the patented nutrient OsteoSine®, to support healthy bones, and is rounded out with clinical dosages of Vitamin D3, a potent and patented form of K2 called K2Vital®, Magnesium, and L-Carnitine, for the most complete bone and muscle support formulation available today.

$79.95

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