The thousands of studies that have been done on aging are beginning to point to one inescapable conclusion: we may be able to modify our aging process by changing what we consume and how we live.
Here are the steps everyone can take to naturally slow the aging process:
Get active In recent studies, regular exercise has been associated with a 75 percent risk reduction in breast cancer, 49 percent for cardiovascular and heart diseases, 35 percent for diabetes, and 22 percent for colorectal cancer. Some studies have suggested that for every minute of exercise, you prolong your life by 7 minutes.1
Reduce Stress Sustained stressors such as emotional trauma, feeling threatened or unsecure, and even natural disasters appear to be associated with increased aging biomarkers.2 You can work to reduce the stress you feel from those events by practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, and biofeedback.
Maintain an ideal weight Being overweight is associated with a wide variety of aging diseases, including diabetes, colon cancer, gallstones, hypertension, heart disease, and stroke (men only).3 Achieving ideal weight can be hard, but there are many tools available that can help you maintain your lean body mass and lose weight.
More Sleep Lack of sleep can have devastating effects on our health, impacting our mood,4 our memories,5 and even cold and flu resistance.6 To improve sleep consider having a consistent sleep schedule, use your bed only for sleep, try a “white noise generator” such as a fan, and avoid caffeine in the afternoon.
Stay Connected The role of good social relationships is important to our overall health. As we age, having good social ties is linked to less depression, better cognitive skills,7 and even a longer life.8
Nutrients Eat Fruits and Vegetables: Since only nine percent of Americans eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the opportunity for improving health (and longevity) by improving diet is great.9
Take a Multivitamin: Deficiency of vitamins B12, B6, C, E, niacin, folic acid, iron, or zinc all seem to mimic damage to DNA from radiation.10 Everyone should consider a good multivitamin to cover their base nutritional needs.
Load up on Polyphenols: Polyphenols are found in many fruits, vegetables, green tea, black tea, red wine, coffee, chocolate, olives, and extra virgin olive oil. They are plant-based nutrients that have antioxidant benefits and are protective effects against cellular aging.11
- Muscadine Grapes: Possess one of the highest antioxidant levels among fruits.12 They contain a high concentration of polyphenols, but unlike other plants they also contain a high amount of ellagitannin and ellagic acid.13 Extracts of muscadine grape have been studied for their ability to help maintain inflammation and act as antioxidants14,15
- Resveratrol: Studies suggest that resveratrol (a type of polyphenol) may slow cellular aging and have antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, and cardio protective properties.16
- Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a flavanol found in tea, has been shown to act as an antioxidant and possibly protect against aging.
How fast you age may truly be in your hands. There is a lot you can do to help slow cellular aging and perhaps delay some of the diseases that are so common in the aging.
1 Moore SC, Patel AV, Matthews CE, et al. Leisure time physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity and mortality: a large pooled cohort analysis. PLoS Med. 2012;9(11):e1001335. PMID: 23139642.
2 Price LH, Kao HT, Burgers DE, Carpenter LL, Tyrka AR. Telomeres and early-life stress: an overview. Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Jan 1;73(1):15-23. PMID: 22831981;
3 Field AE, Coakley EH, Must A, et al. Impact of overweight on the risk of developing common chronic diseases during a 10-year period. Arch Intern Med. 2001 Jul 9;161(13):1581-6. PMID:11434789.
4 Cole MG, Dendukuri N. Risk factors for depression among elderly community subjects: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Psychiatry. 2003 Jun;160(6):1147-56.. PMID: 12777274.
5 Schmidt C, Peigneux P, Cajochen C. Age-related changes in sleep and circadian rhythms: impact on cognitive performance and underlying neuroanatomical networks. Front Neurol. 2012;3:118. PMID: 22855682.
7 Seeman TE, Lusignolo TM, Albert M, Berkman L. Social relationships, social support, and patterns of cognitive aging in healthy, high-functioning older adults: MacArthur studies of successful aging. Health Psychol. 2001 Jul;20(4):243-55. PMID: 11515736.
8 Kern ML, Porta SS, Friedman HS. Lifelong Pathways to Longevity: Personality, Relationships, Flourishing, and Health. J Pers. 2013 Aug 8. PMID: 23927423.
9 Ames BN, Shigenaga MK, Hagen TM. Oxidants, antioxidants, and the degenerative diseases of aging. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Sep 1;90(17):7915-22. PMID: 8367443.
10 Ames BN. Micronutrients prevent cancer and delay aging. Toxicol Lett. 1998 Dec 28;102-103:5-18. PMID: 10022226.
11 Fraga CG, Galleano M, Verstraeten SV, Oteiza PI. Basic biochemical mechanisms behind the health benefits of polyphenols. Mol Aspects Med. 2010 Dec;31(6):435-45. PMID: 20854840.
12 Greenspan P, Bauer JD, Pollock SH, et al. Antiinflammatory properties of the muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia). J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 2;53(22):8481-4. PMID: 16248541.
13 Sandhu AK, Gu L. Antioxidant capacity, phenolic content, and profiling of phenolic compounds in the seeds, skin, and pulp of Vitis rotundifolia (Muscadine Grapes) As determined by HPLC-DAD-ESI-MS(n). J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 28;58(8):4681-92. PMID: 20334341.
14 Gourineni V, Shay NF, Chung S, Sandhu AK, Gu L. Muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia) and wine phytochemicals prevented obesity-associated metabolic complications in C57BL/6J mice. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Aug 8;60(31):7674-81. PMID: 22788667.
15 Pastrana-Bonilla E, Akoh CC, Sellappan S, Krewer G. Phenolic content and antioxidant capacity of muscadine grapes. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Aug 27;51(18):5497-503. PMID: 12926904.
16 Khurana S, Venkataraman K, Hollingsworth A, Piche M, Tai TC. Polyphenols: benefits to the cardiovascular system in health and in aging. Nutrients. 2013 Sep 26;5(10):3779-3827.