In her book Younger, author and MD Sara Gottfried says, “by turning your good genes on and your bad genes off, you can actually prevent aging no matter how old you are.”
Who doesn’t want to prevent some of the negatives of aging? This is very exciting as it relates ultimately to the new science of epigenetics, which is essentially the science of how your genes get expressed (i.e. turning certain genes on or off).
Some of the factors that affect this? The food you eat, your exposure to toxins and drugs, your lifestyle, your level of physical activity, your emotional state, the quality of your microbiome, and your social interactions. This is great news for us because it means that your health and longevity are not a done deal!
Each of us has the potential to optimize not only our lifespan, but our healthspan.
What can you do to reduce this negative inflammation and prevent accelerated aging?
- Eat Like a Roman
The first thing you can do is eat foods that fight inflammation. This is done by following what we’ve come to know as the Mediterranean diet. This way of eating prioritizes:
- lots of colourful vegetables
- herbs and spices
- healthy fats such as coconut, avocado, nuts or EVOO
- whole, unrefined grains
- organic eggs
- lean meats and cold-water fish
- a little bit of dairy
- red meat once a week
- dark chocolate and red wine in moderation
On the flip side, what will accelerate inflammation and aging? Vegetable oils (corn, canola, soybean, safflower, sunflower, peanut, margarine), sodas, sugary foods, refined carbs, processed and fried foods, lard, and red meat from industrial sources. These foods should be avoided as much as possible.
It’s also important to incorporate fasting for a minimum of 12 hours a day to give your body time to repair itself.
- Get Moving
This is the single most important piece for vibrant mental and physical health. We know that the end caps of the chromosomes (telomeres) are markers of health, and over time, these little tips duplicate, and when they do so they get frayed. But physical activity actually repairs them, keeping the cells intact and keeping us healthy and preventing lifestyle diseases such as cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
My biggest tip when it comes to physical activity is to just focus on moving more each day as part of your regular routine. It doesn’t necessarily mean exercise in a formal way. Simply being engaged physically and being in your body, such as taking the stairs, parking far away or walking to the store.
You should also incorporate some aerobic activity (activity that gets your heart rate up) for 30 minutes three times a week and do some strength activities. Things like gardening are actually very good for this. Stretching and recovery are also important.
The most amazing bonus from this is that the more active you are, the more you will also improve your mental and emotional health.
The old adage is true: Use it or lose it.
- Get Some Rest…and Rejuvenate
This is one of the most underrated strategies to stay healthy…and keep disease at bay.
- Sleep 7 hours per night – essential!
- Manage your stress.
- Get a hobby.
- Socialize with positive people.
While we can’t always control the sources of our stress (such as a global pandemic!), there are a lot of things we can do to minimize the impact of stress. Ensuring that you maintain regular social connections every week, and are staying away from technology and social media for at least a half day each week will do wonders to your emotional health.
You are in the driver’s seat of your life when it comes to health and disease prevention. You can slow down the aging process and age well, living a fabulous, rewarding life with strength and vitality.