30 Anti-Aging Secrets That Could Add Years to Your Life
While the exact location of the fountain of youth still eludes us, these expert-approved anti-aging secrets can lengthen your life span.
Deep-six the sugar
Sugar is public health enemy No. 1 when it comes to aging, says Troy, Michigan–based plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, MD, author of The Age Fix: A Leading Plastic Surgeon Reveals How to Really Look 10 Years Younger. “One study attributed 184,000 deaths each year to sugary drinks like soda pop and punch,” he says. “Not only do they increase your risk of diabetes and being overweight, but the sugar in the drinks also can make you look older.” Read more about these foods that can make you age faster.
Give up gluten
Gluten-free diets are trendy for a reason, Dr. Youn says. “Although only 1 percent of the population has true celiac disease [a serious gluten insensitivity], a much higher percentage of the population is sensitive to gluten, which can cause [gastrointestinal] distress, brain fog, weight gain, and generalized inflammation,” he says. Inflammation is the smoking gun in a long list of diseases that can shave years off your life.
Eat the rainbow
Colorful fruits and vegetables are chock-full of anti-aging antioxidants—the valuable substances are in the actual pigments that make up the color of these foods, Dr. Youn says. “Eat a wide array of colors to improve your health and slow down the aging process.” Find out the 15 foods you should stop eating after age 40.
Everyone is talking about the health benefits of occasional fasting, and research suggests that this way of eating may also have anti-aging benefits and add years to your life. “Fasting” is an umbrella term for several diets that alternate feasts and fasts. Research out of Harvard University found that fasting can increase your life span, slow aging, and improve your health by altering the activity of mitochondrial networks, or the energy centers within our cells. Basically, intermittent fasting keeps mitochondrial networks in a more “youthful” state, the researchers report. Find out more about the anti-aging benefits of intermittent fasting.
Floss your teeth
Flossing your teeth daily will decrease inflammation in your gums, says Michael Roizen, MD, Cleveland Clinic’s chief wellness officer and author of several books, including Real Age: Are You as Young as You Can Be? “Inflammation is one of the greatest causes of aging; it’s linked to heart disease and stroke and impedes the immune system, which increases the risk of infection, cancer, and brain dysfunction,” he says. “Gum disease is one of the biggest causes of inflammation that we have, but we can prevent it by flossing and seeing a dentist twice a year.” Skipping this important step is one of the everyday habits that can shorten your life.
Stress and stressors are everywhere. While that’s tough to change, you can shift the way you react. That’s key because not coping well with stress can take its toll on health and longevity, Dr. Roizen says. “Learning how to manage stress with guided imagery, meditation, deep breathing, or another practice can add years to your life,” says Dr. Roizen, who puts a finger on his belly button to feel it going in and out—and confirm that he’s taking deep breaths—when he’s combating the effects of stress. Read about the 22 habits that could be making you age faster.
Certain vitamins and supplements can help you live your best life, and that mix can vary according to your stage of life, Dr. Roizen says. “A physician can help guide you,” he says. Consistency is the key. “We know that taking a multivitamin or half of a multivitamin twice a day can decrease cancer and cardiovascular disease risk in men, but only when they take it consistently from age 50 to 70,” he says. Learn which vitamins or supplements you need as you age.
Join the D team
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a host of age-related diseases, many of which can shorten your life. “Get your blood levels tested and supplement accordingly,” Dr. Roizen says.
Ask about aspirin
Taking aspirin every day can reduce your risk of stroke or heart attack, but discuss with your doctor whether this therapy makes sense for you (it can also increase the risk of uncontrolled bleeds). “We also know that daily baby aspirin reduces the risk of nine major cancers,” Dr. Roizen says. Here are 15 habits that could be aging your brain.
Take a coffee break
Drinking coffee or tea daily can reduce your risk of developing cancer, diabetes, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. “Decaf has half of the effect, so caffeinated is better, especially if you are a fast caffeine metabolizer and don’t get headaches, gastric distress, or heart palpitations from caffeine,” Dr. Roizen says. “The more you drink without side effects, the greater the benefits.”
Look out for senolytics
These is a class of drugs, known as senolytics, that might be able to improve our life spans, Dr. Roizen says. “They take out cells that are growing older,” he says. “We don’t know the mechanism by which this works yet, but a study showed that the drugs—in mice—can reverse the damage senescent cells can trigger,” he says. The drugs can also treat some forms of leukemia. “There are a rash of efforts looking at basic mechanisms of aging to see if we can use these agents in humans,” Dr. Roizen says. Stay tuned.
Get ready for rapamycin
Rapamycin, a drug derived from a bacterium found on Easter Island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean, increases the life spans of mice. “Studies looking at low-dose rapamycin in humans are ongoing and are having a fair bit of success in reversing the aches, pains, and low energy aging patients have,” Dr. Roizen says.
Jumping 40 times a day on a hard surface will strengthen your bones and spinal discs and decrease your risk of breaking a bone, Dr. Roizen says. Here are other ways to slash your risk of developing the brittle bone disease osteoporosis as you age.
Be first in line for your shots
Make sure you are up-to-date on all of your shots and immunizations since this is the best way to keep your immune system in tip-top shape. Immunizations are especially important if you are one of the millions of people living with diabetes. Find out the 50 reasons you’ll probably age better than your parents.
Walk the walk
Sitting or being sedentary for long periods of time increases the risk for all sorts of diseases and conditions that can shorten lives, Dr. Roizen says. “Don’t sit for more than two hours in a row, and walk at least two minutes every two hours,” he says. Read up on the 15 signs your body is aging faster than you are.
Smoking tobacco is linked to a laundry list of diseases that will shorten your life, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke. It’s not just cigarettes, either: Vaping or spending time in hookah parlors is also dangerous, Dr. Roizen says. Read these 12 ways that smoking makes you look older.
Take care of your cells
Telomeres are protective caps on the ends of our chromosomes that dictate how long cells live. Short telomeres are linked to a host of age-related diseases and conditions, but a small study shows that positive changes in four key areas—your diet, exercise, stress management, and social support—may lengthen telomeres. “Our genes—and our telomeres—are not necessarily our fate,” says lead author Dean Ornish, MD—UC San Francisco clinical professor of medicine, and founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute—in a news release. “So often people think, ‘Oh, I have bad genes, there’s nothing I can do about it.’ But research indicates that telomeres may lengthen to the degree that people change how they live.”
Eat like a Greek
The anti-aging Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats, and lean protein: Research has shown that people who eat a Mediterranean diet have longer telomeres. Swapping processed food for healthy Mediterranean fare does wonders, says Josh Axe, DNM, DC, founder of Ancient Nutrition and DrAxe.com. “Some specific foods scientifically shown to lengthen your telomeres include eggs, olive oil, and coffee. And, of course, you’ll need plenty of green, leafy veggies.” Check out these foods that make you look younger.
People who have around one to two drinks a day appear to be less likely to develop dementia or suffer a premature death in comparison with people who don’t drink at all. But moderation is crucial, says Dr. Roizen. Moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men—that’s it. More than that erases the benefits, he says. Also, if you have a problem with alcohol, alcohol’s possible benefits in this area are not a reason to start drinking again, because the risks outweigh the benefits.
Avoid these top five offenders
The top five food offenders are saturated fat, trans fats, added sugar, syrups, and refined carbs. “By avoiding these five food categories, you can significantly lower your chances of disease and premature aging,” Dr. Roizen says.
Live with purpose
Having a deeper meaning and purpose in your life encourages healthy choices and behaviors, according to a study in the Journal of Health Psychology. The researchers found that people with a higher sense of purpose were more likely to eat lots of vegetables, exercise, get good sleep, and even floss their teeth. There’s more: Read more about how living a purposeful life helps you age well.
Get your zzz’s
Good sleep reduces stress and your risk of developing chronic health conditions associated with stress, says Los Angeles sleep expert Michael J. Breus PhD, author of several books on sleep, including The Power of When. Poor sleep, however, sets us up for obesity and other diseases that can shorten lives. Check out these 10 anti-aging tips from dermatologists.
Know your numbers
Take control of your health and aging by learning these six numbers: How many calories you need in a day, your waist size, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels, blood pressure, and morning pulse rate. Tracking these numbers and keeping them in healthy ranges will tack years onto your life.
We live in a wonderful age in which there are countless screening tests for numerous deadly diseases and conditions—and they allow doctors to catch problems early when they are most treatable. Recommendations from the CDC vary by age and other risk factors.
C’mon, get happy
Of 100,000 women in the Women’s Health Initiative study, those with an optimistic outlook on life were 14 percent less likely than pessimists to die during the study’s first eight years. Check out the 9 habits to develop today that your 80-year-old self will thank you for.
Care for others
Grandparents who care for their grandchildren live longer than grandparents who don’t pitch in, according to a study in Evolution and Human Behavior. “A moderate level of caregiving involvement does seem to have positive effects on health,” Ralph Hertwig, PhD, director of the Center for Adaptive Rationality at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, says in a news release. “But previous studies have shown that more intense involvement causes stress, which has negative effects on physical and mental health.” Don’t miss these other habits that science says are anti-aging.
Give up red meat
Eating red meat increases the likelihood of dying from cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, stroke, diabetes, infections, kidney disease, and liver disease. On the other hand, eating white meat like fish and chicken reduces the risk, a study in the BMJ suggests.
Advanced glycation end products—AGEs—are chemicals found naturally in food such as aged cheese and meats and grilled or fried food. In some research, people who follow a low-AGE diet have lower measures of cholesterol, inflammation, and risk factors for diabetes.
Frequent blood donors live longer than people who don’t give blood, according to a study out of Denmark. Blood donors are known to be healthier in general, but the researchers still found an added benefit from the act of giving itself.
Learn from super agers
“Super agers” have cognitive abilities that are on par with people decades younger than they are. Learn how to eat, exercise, socialize, and more to become a super ager yourself.