The Five Horsemen of Aging
Do you think how you age and when you die is left to the fate of good or bad genes? Think again. “Only about 5 to 20 percent of the aging process has to do with our genes,” says Johnny Bowden, author of The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer. “The rest has to do with how we treat our bodies, which determines whether, like a light switch, we turn the good genes on and the bad genes off.”
Conquer them and you slow down the aging process and help prevent heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. And you’ll look and feel younger than your peers.
Here are the 5 steps:
1. Lessen Exposure to Free Radicals
Not unlike the way rust attacks a car, free radicals attack our cells, damage our DNA and accelerate aging. Things to avoid: cigarettes, trans fats, excess sun exposure, charred meats, and pesticides. Though fruits and vegetables are great sources of antioxidants that fight free radicals, try to buy the “dirty dozen” (produce with highest chemical residue) in organic form:
• Bell Peppers
• Imported grapes
• Spinach & Kale
2. Reduce Inflammation
Inflammation that becomes chronic is now considered to be a major player in many diseases of aging including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. The Mediterranean diet based on fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, oils, grains and little meat appears to reduce inflammation. Other great anti-inflammatory foods include many spices (like turmeric) and dark chocolate (70 percent or higher cacao content).
Exercise is another great way to lower inflammation. Aim for a moderate amount of steady exercise like brisk walking, swimming, or biking for 30 to 45 minutes five days a week—the amount most experts recommend. But don’t overdo it to the point of soreness and extreme fatigue, since too much exercise can actually increase inflammation, at least temporarily.
3. Limit Sugar
When too much sugar mixes proteins and fats it forms molecules called Advanced Glycation End products, or AGEs that promote aging. Limiting your intake of sugar-filled foods in general will also help. The American Heart Association now recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories per day of added sugars, and men no more than 150 calories per day.
4. Lower Stress
Being under constant pressure initiates the release of a variety of stress hormones that make your pulse race and cause your blood pressure to rise. The hormone cortisol gets released to lessen these effects, but if stress is constant, and cortisol stays chronically elevated it can shrink a part of the brain called the hippocampus, essential for long-term memory. It can also lead to the accumulation of belly fat, causing inflammation and insulin resistance.
Regularly practicing relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga or contemplative prayer help manage stress, but even closing your eyes for 5 minutes and breathing deeply at intervals through the day can help. Getting too little sleep can also increase cortisol, so make sure to aim for 7 to 8 hours a night.
5. Protect and Repair DNA with Super Foods
This point is closely related to the above, because controlling oxidation and inflammation and avoiding toxins are all part of protecting your DNA. When we age or have disease our DNA is duplicated but not as well. Think of a Xerox machine that produces a copy of a copy of a copy… and so on. The final copies are not very clear. We want “clear reproductions” when it comes to duplicating our DNA within.
Many spices are also amazingly protective. I think it is good idea to include a reputable, high quality super “green” or “super food” type powder as part of your health regimen. You can mix the powder in your smoothie or mix it with juice as an added boost to your brain, energy and longevity.
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