Your age isn’t your real age. What this means is that your chronological age is not the same as your biological age. For instance, you could be 38 years old but have the body of a 60-year-old. On the other hand, you could also take off 10 years from your age if you have good genetics and live right. No matter what your age, there are ways to stay younger — even at the chromosome level. Let’s look at some proven ways to reduce the signs of aging.
You Might Be Younger Than You Think
Scientists at the Duke University of Medicine showed that your birth date has little to do with the age of your body function. By evaluating 954 young adults at age 38, they found some surprising results. After testing multiple organ systems — pulmonary, periodontal, cardiovascular, renal, hepatic and immune function — they established each person’s biological age. What they found was that individuals who were aging more slowly were:
- More physically fit
- Showed good cognitive skills and brain youth
- Self-reported better health
- Looked younger
The bad news is that up to 20 percent of your biological clock is determined by genetics alone. The good news is that 80 percent of the aging process is largely determined by factors you can influence.
Your Muscles Make You Smarter
Some people say the brain is like a muscle and requires exercise, and this is true. Still, even your skeletal muscle has a great effect on brain function and the aging process. We all know exercise is critical for health maintenance. However, resistance training, such as weightlifting, appears to be especially helpful in staying young.
When you think of someone who is old, you think of them as being frail. This is because as people age, they lose muscle mass. This goes along with a loss of muscle power, endurance and vigor. A loss of cognitive function also happens.
The old school of thought was that this was an inevitable process. New evidence suggests though that it’s more likely due to inactivity. In other words, use it or lose it. Some studies show that even 70-year-olds can bulk up. Still, don’t wait until you retire since early action and maintenance provide maximum benefit.
Work the Bigger Muscles
The most significant gains happen when you work the larger muscle groups. These kinds of exercises appear to work best:
- Push-ups or bench press
These exercises include the larger muscles and also major groups of muscles. Additionally, many of these exercises help you retain your balance, which may help prevent falls later in life.
Resveratrol in Red Wine
There have been numerous studies that show alcohol consumption can help keep you young. Still, if you overdo it, the effect is the exact opposite. If you drink too much, you age faster. A general rule of thumb is 1-2 drinks per day max. How much is one drink? Here are some good guidelines — choose one a day:
- 1 beer: 12 fluid ounces
- 1 wine: 5 fluid ounces
- 1 distilled spirits (80 proof): 1.5 fluid ounces
Red wine appears to be especially helpful in the fight against aging. The reason is that red wine contains resveratrol, which is a powerful antioxidant.
Stop Mitochondrial Decay
Mitochondria are the human cell’s energy producers. As you age, these power stations don’t work as well as they used to. These means all cell function becomes slower, including the removal of toxins and wastes that accelerate aging. The best way to keep your mitochondria at top performance is by putting them to work. Aerobic exercise does this better than any other activity. In fact, this kind of exercise not only maintains mitochondria but also stimulates the production of new ones. So, run, bike, swim or do CrossFit and get those power stations humming again.
A word of caution though. If you aren’t used to strenuous exercise, you should start slow. Even just simple walking 15 to 30 minutes a day is a good start. Also, consult with your doctor when you want to increase the intensity.
Stress ages you. One of the biggest reasons people are stressed these days is not enough sleep. For adults, a range of six to eight hours is needed to repair and restore the body. In our digital times, quality rest is harder to obtain. Even if you get six to eight hours, for example, if you use your smartphone before bed, your sleep quality may suffer. The bright light from your screen stimulates your brain to be wide awake as if was the middle of the day. This affects your sleep pattern. Even if you are unconscious, you don’t get as much restful sleep.
The solution is to equip your device with a blue light filter. Even better is to avoid using your device for up to an hour before you go to bed. Face it. Netflix binging makes you age faster. A good night’s sleep reduces stress and helps you avoid overeating — both of which can lead to premature aging.
Soft, Smooth Skin
One of the most common complaints about getting old is wrinkles. There are ways to keep the skin looking healthier though. Exercise helps tremendously, and this works for two main reasons. First, sweating helps open up your pores to wash out toxins. Also, exercise improves circulation to the skin which also removes wastes that damage the skin.
During your post-workout shower, don’t use scalding water. This can dry your skin excessively and wash away important natural moisturizing oils. Lukewarm water is fine to wash away the grime.
Even though a dark tan might make you feel young, the biggest skin ager is the sun. Ideally, you should avoid direct sunlight as much as possible. If you must be in the sun, cover up with clothes and a wide-brimmed hat. Finally, use sunscreen that not only has a high sun protection factor (SPF), but that also contains metals in the ingredients like titanium oxide and zinc oxide.
Telomeres are the protective tips of your DNA strands that keep them from getting tangled up or damaged. As you age, your cells divide over and over. Each division shortens the telomeres. When they get so short that they can’t protect the DNA, this leads to cell damage and death. Telomerase is an enzyme in your bloodstream that can help lengthen telomeres. Here are some factors that have been shown to affect telomere length.
- Stress: Too much stress means shorter telomeres
- Exercise: Yes, you guessed it. This makes telomeres longer. And the more you work out, the longer they get
- Antioxidant foods: This makes sense, and both seem to be connected to the aging process; diets high in vitamins C and E are associated with longer telomeres
- Meditation and prayer: These appear to help maintain telomere length, even in people facing stressful situations
Will genetic engineering be able to fix telomeres in the future? Perhaps but, for now, you can still make a difference naturally.
The 80 Percent Rule
In Japan, some of the people are known to live longer than any other place on Earth. In Okinawa, they practice the 80 percent rule. This means they eat until they are only 80 percent full. It’s also no surprise that their diet has four or five times the amount of fruits and vegetables than the typical Western diet.
Sugar May Be Sweet, but It Makes You Older
Sugar can lead to a host of problems such as obesity and perhaps even diabetes. A diet rich in sugar is associated with a shorter lifespan. Also, sugar is notorious for affecting the skin in a negative way. The best option is to avoid table sugar and processed foods with sugar. If you want something sweet, it’s better to go for raw honey or fresh fruit.
One of the places we fear aging most is in the brain. We don’t want to lose our cognitive function, and nobody wants to suffer from dementia. One of the best defenses against this is to remain social. Your neurons are like people. When they are more connected, they are healthier and more resilient. The amazing thing is that an active social life and support system helps your neurons stay connected too.
It’s a Mind Game
So much of staying young is in your attitude. Try the things outlined in this article and seek healthy adventures. The more you live a healthy lifestyle, the younger you’ll live for years to come.
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Quantification of Biological Aging in Young Adults
Why Your Birth Date May Not Match Your Body’s Age
Resistance training, and IGF involvement in the maintenance of muscle mass during the aging process
Scientists Find That Age Is Just A Number, And Here Are 7 Ways You Can Slower Aging Process
Alcohol: If you drink, keep it moderate
How to Lengthen Your Telomeres & Unlock the Key to Longevity