The secret to healthy longevity is happiness, recent research shows

Deep Longevity is building a digital model of aging. According to their most recent publication, mental health is a major anti-aging factor and cannot be ignored in biogerontological studies.

Aging research has been blooming ever since the invention of aging clocks. While all people age, some age at a faster pace than others and manifest the signs of growing old at an earlier age. Frailty, aging-related diseases, poor sight and cognitive decline are all unpleasant signs of old age. Aging clocks are statistical models that can predict how soon these symptoms of aging will manifest in a person.

The first aging clock was developed by Steve Horvath in 2013 who used epigenetic data to compare the pace of aging across multiple human tissues. This study was followed by a number of research projects analyzing the footprints of aging in other biodata dimensions: gene expression, clinical blood tests, imaging, gut flora composition. These aging clocks allow to inspect the root causes of aging and provide insights that ultimately can be used to create an anti-aging treatment.

However, most of these models operate with physical, molecular data sources such as DNA and RNA. While these molecules are the very foundation of any life on Earth, one cannot fully grasp such complex and high-order processes as aging relying only on low-level information. The aging process is more than a process of cellular damage accumulation, it is also a societal and psychological phenomenon.

Deep Longevity is a Hong Kong startup that aims to bring together the disparate manifestations of aging into a single narrative and create the tools that will drive biogerontological research in the future. In 2020, Deep Longevity published the first psychological aging clock that showed that one’s perception of their own age is a significant all-cause mortality factor. Earlier this year, Deep Longevity worked with Harvard University to publish a research piece describing an ensemble of neural networks that can help people achieve long-term mental resilience. This research project now serves as the backend behind a free online service FuturSelf.AI that provides its users with comprehensive reports on their psychological age and well-being trajectories.

Deep Longevity continues exploring the psychological component of aging and has just published a new paper demonstrating the interconnectedness of the physical and mental aspects of aging. In collaboration with Stanford University and the University of Hong Kong, the startup analyzed data from 11,914 Chinese adults to compare how emotional states and social factors affect one’s biological age. The pace of aging detected with a novel aging clock was shown to accelerate if a person feels unhappy, lonely, or has trouble sleeping. The detrimental effect of a poor mental state exceeded that of smoking and was on par with the impact of serious lung and liver diseases.

The authors conclude that given the strong connection between psychology and the physical pace of aging, poor mental health needs to be recognized as a major driver of aging. Alex Zhvaoronkov, the founder and CEO of Insilico Medicine and a co-author of the paper, states: “This study lays the foundation for the new tools that may help reverse both the psychological and biological aging and improve well-being at the same time… Both organizations and governments would benefit from increased productivity and decreases in healthcare costs stemming from psychosocial and biological age optimization”.

In combination with the previously announced FuturSelf.AI, this publication provides a fresh perspective on anti-aging solutions for regular people. Mental health applications can be used to improve one’s longevity potential and are compatible with more traditional aging clocks such as Blood Age, according to the new paper in Ageing-US.

Deep Longevity is planning to continue its exploration of psychological aging and its connection to aging-related diseases. Currently, Deep Longevity is analyzing the user-provided data from FuturSelf.AI to prepare a follow-up publication with its academic collaborators from China and the US. The publication will feature a detailed analysis of psychological traits in the context of aging that will be used to further improve the aging clocks provided by the company. Deepankar Nayak, the CEO of Deep longevity affirms, FuturSelf.AI, in combination with our recent study of older Chinese adults combining Mind Age and Blood Age, positions Deep Longevity at the forefront of biogerontological research”.

Most Influential Journalists covered our research

Nicola Davis From The Guardian referred our journal as Digital model of ageing reveals importance of psychological health as well as biological

Brooke Steinberg from NyPost mentioned Being alone and unhappy could be worse on health than smoking: study

Shiv Sudhakar from FoxNews described Loneliness and unhappiness can age us faster than smoking: New study

Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech from The Hill wrote Feeling lonely, unhappy can accelerate aging more than smoking

Sarah Knapton from Telegraph quoted A team of international researchers have discovered a startling link between mental and physical well-being and feeling isolated