Growing old is a natural course of life. However, it doesn’t mean that you have to accept diseases like diabetes, heart disease, or cancer as a “natural” progress of aging.
At present, scientists have yet to find ways to reverse aging. But increasingly, studies show that you may be able to stay fit and healthy through your later years by merely making some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle.
In the following, you will find 7 strategies that have a material impact on your longevity and youthfulness.
Optimize Your Insulin Levels
Insulin is a major accelerant of the aging process and has an immense impact on your longevity.
Insulin is released by your pancreas after you eat carbohydrates to mop up the extra blood sugar carbs produce. Over time, if you eat too much sugars and grains, and your body is constantly releasing an abundance of insulin, your body’s cells will become resistant to it. This means you will require even more insulin to produce the same effects, then it becomes a vicious cycle.
Nowadays, many people have insulin levels that are too high, thanks to our modern day sugar-laden diet and a dormant lifestyle. The most recognized disease is diabetes, but research shows that it can also be cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, or cancer. The root cause of the problem is always at the molecular and cellular level, and insulin plays a vital role in it.
Research shows that insulin directly affects two genes in your body that govern longevity and youthfulness. More insulin turns on the first gene that promotes aging and shortens lifespan, while the second gene that brings on all the anti-aging benefits won’t get turned on.
In other words, you will miss out on what this “elixir” gene can do for you —
- Boosts compounds that make the skin and muscle-building proteins work properly.
- Activates the immune system to fight infection.
- Turns off genes that are active in cancer.
This is exactly the reason why researchers have come to conclude that elevated insulin levels is the leading culprit of premature aging and premature death.
Therefore, optimizing your insulin levels is the utmost important key to longevity and youthfulness —
- Don’t eat refined white carbs and sugars, in particular, foods containing high fructose. Recent studies show that despite fructose’s low glycemic index, excess fructose consumption actually destroys your insulin sensitivity and causes plaque in your arteries. Based on these findings, I have changed my position to against the increasingly popular agave nectar, as it contains over 90% fructose, almost twice as high as the artificial high fructose corn syrup.
- Remember that cancer cells thrive on sugar. By cutting it out from your diet, you are already lowering your risk of cancer.
- Although whole grains and fruits are good for you, they must be consumed in moderation. Be mindful that some people are more insulin sensitive to carbs.
Exercise For Health
Regular, moderate to vigorous exercise (walking, running, swimming, dancing, etc.) helps improve insulin sensitivity, decrease body fat, reduce the risk of cancer, and promote brain health. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week.
On top of this, incorporate at least two 30-min weight training sessions a week. Research shows that on average people lose 22% of their muscle mass by age 70, a process that can leave you prone to deadly falls. What’s more, weight training helps preserve your executive functioning skills and slow down the effects of aging on your brain.
Emotional Health — Be Happy, Find Purpose, Manage Stress, Make Friends
If you are always looking at a glass-half-empty, cynical, pessimistic, and depressed, it is time to change your perspective and attitude. Your state of mind has a direct impact on how your body handles inflammation, which is the underpinning of many chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day.
Studies show that people who are —
- optimistic and cheerful,
- have a purposeful existence,
- know how to effectively handle the stressors in life, and
- are socially active with healthy relationships
have stronger immune systems and live longer, healthier lives. For the most part, people who live to be 100 or more have very positive attitudes; they are unusually bright, active, outgoing and cheerful. They also know how to laugh often and have fun.
Eliminate Environmental Toxins
- Don’t smoke. If you do, find a way to quit.
- Reduce your intake of pesticides and chemicals by buying organic produce and grass-fed meats.
- Reduce your intake of preservatives and additives by avoiding processed foods.
- Limit your exposure to radiation of all kinds.
- Reduce your exposure to household toxins and chemicals by replacing household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, etc. with non-toxic alternatives.
Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels
Many people, including medical doctors, are not aware of the recent research findings regarding the importance of vitamin D. Vitamin D is so critical for your health because it plays a vital role in —
- Insulin secretion
- Blood pressure regulation
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Alzheimer’s disease
A simple blood test called 25(OH)D can determine your vitamin D levels. Make sure they are between 50-70 ng/ml year-round.
At levels below 50 ng/ml, your body is chronically starved as it uses up vitamin D as fast as you can make it or take it. The body does not reliably begin storing vitamin D in fat and muscle tissue until levels get above 50 ng/ml.
Since it is very hard to obtain enough vitamin D from the diet, if you are also not getting sufficient vitamin D from the sun, you should consider taking a natural vitamin D3 supplement. Studies show that it is safe for adults to take up to 1,000 IU per every 25 pounds of body weight per day. However, the dosage depends on your current vitamin D status, therefore, it is prudent to take a blood test prior to supplementation. Consult with your healthcare professional and check regularly to adjust dosage and make sure your vitamin D is within the optimal range of 50-70 ng/ml.
More Omega-3, Less Omega-6
Modern day diets emphasize on the heavy use of polyunsaturated oils, made from soy, cottonseed, corn, sunflower, and safflower. These oils are high in omega-6 fats and they go rancid very easily, turning into trans fat. Excessive intake of omega-6 leads to inflammation and many chronic diseases.
Omega-3 fats, on the other hand, are anti-inflammatory and they balance out the effects of omega-6. Omega-3 fats have been shown to have a positive effect on the brain as well as cardiovascular and other age-related diseases.
Best sources of Omega-3 are wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, herrings, and meats from grass-fed animals such as beef, bison, buffalo, lamb, and venison. However, beware that most beef on the market are corn-fed, not grass-fed.
Get Your Antioxidants From Food
Antioxidants have anti-aging effects because they are scavengers of free radicals, which are linked to diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease.
Free radicals are toxic byproducts of natural cell metabolism, but they can also be formed in the body as a result of environmental stress (pesticides, chemicals, cigarette smoke, etc.) and emotional stress.
As part of the body’s defense mechanism, the body produces some antioxidants internally to combat against the free radicals. However, modern day life has induced so much stress on our body that we are in desperate need of external help – from an antioxidant-rich diet.
The following are examples of foods with high antioxidant content —
- Berries – blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cranberries
- Beans – red kidney, pinto, black
- Fruits – apple, avocado, cherries, pear, plum, pineapple, kiwi
- Vegetables – artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, sweet potatoes, broccoli
- Grains – oats
- Nuts – walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, almonds
- Herbs – turmeric, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, ginger
- Beverages – green tea, coffee, red wine
- Cocoa (dark chocolate)