You can’t stop aging. But you can lessen the impact of passing years, increase your lifespan, and delay (or prevent) the onset of age-related diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Check out these 31 ways to turn back the clock, and slow the march of time.
Go low-glycemic. When you eat white sugar, agave, honey, bread, pasta, and other high glycemic-index (GI) foods, your blood sugar levels rapidly increase, prompting a surge in insulin—a pattern that’s associated with inflammation and Type-2 diabetes.
Get organic skin. Preservatives, artificial fragrances, and cheap oils age skin. And because older skin is more sensitive, it’s more likely to react to chemicals. So it’s best to use organic facial and body care products. Try Pangea Organics’ Japanese Matcha Tea Facial Mask with Açai & Goji Berry, or Aubrey Organics’ Lumessence line, which is designed especially for older skin.
Focus on (mono-unsaturated) fats. Found naturally in olives, olive oil, avocados, almonds, and other nuts, monounsaturated fats can help normalize cholesterol and protect against inflammation. Olive oil also contains antioxidants that are partially responsible for its cholesterol-lowering and anti-inflammatory effects.
Respect cordyceps. Used by practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years, it comes from a fungus called Cordyceps sinensis. In studies, cordyceps increased the ability of learning and memory, and slowed aging.
Eat less. Dozens of studies have found that reducing calorie intake by 30—50 percent—without restricting nutrients—can slow the effects of aging, lessen inflammation, improve blood pressure and glucose levels, optimize cholesterol levels, and promote healthy weight.
Open your eyes. Puffiness, dark circles, and sagging make eyes look older. Get plenty of sleep and minimize the signs of aging with antioxidant-packed eye creams. Try Aubrey Organics’ Lumessence Rejuvenating Eye Cream or Skin Organics’ Coffee Berry w/Hemp Oil Stick; it doubles as a lip balm.
Nibble on blueberries. They’re rich in polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that reduces inflammation and is especially protective against Alzheimer’s disease and other age-related changes in the brain. Cherries, cranberries, blackberries, and goji berries also contain healing polyphenols.
Discover DHEA. It’s a precursor to other hormones, and has been shown to decrease insulin resistance and reduce inflammation.
Seek Vitamins C and E. Applied topically, both can help protect skin from sun damage. Try Jason Natural Ester-C Cream, or Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal Cream.
Fight inflammation. Increased levels of inflammation are linked to heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other age-related diseases. Supplements that help reduce inflammation: curcumin, quercetin, bromelain, omega-3 fats, and alpha lipoic acid.
Highlight hummus. Garbanzo beans are rich in lignans that protect against breast cancer colon cancer, and several other types of cancers. Other beans, lentils, and flax seeds are also have a high lignan content. Mix it up, and use a variety; aim for half a cup, several times a week.
Don’t forget your zzzzzzzzzzs. Sleep is crucial for preventing disease. But changes to sleep patterns are a normal part of aging. If you have trouble snoozing, try a little slumber-inducing valerian, passionflower, GABA, or chamomile.
Make ketchup your condiment. It’s high in lycopene, which helps prevent blood from clotting and protects against prostate and other cancers. Red peppers, red grapefruit, and watermelon are other good sources.
Leave the labels. Packaged, processed foods are often filled with high-GI flours, unhealthy fats, and fructose—all of which can increase inflammation and accelerate aging. Buy whole foods, and stick to nuts and fruits for nibbling.
Take a dose of D. Vitamin D is associated with longer life span, and helps protect bones from osteoporosis as we age. Vitamin D supplements are especially important if you’re minimizing your exposure to the sun.
Have a cup of crucifers. Broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, and other cruciferous vegetables contain compounds that protect the heart and reproductive organs from age-related hormonal changes—especially important for women.
Sit in the shade. The sun is the primary source of age-related damage to the skin. So cover up during peak sun hours, and slather on chemical-free sunscreen. Try Earth’s Best Mineral Based Sunblock or Desert Essence Age Reversal Mineral Sunscreen.
Go for garlic. It promotes heart health by lowering cholesterol, protecting against atherosclerosis, and thinning blood. It’s best raw, so invest in a garlic press and squeeze a clove into salad dressings or dips.
Consider cat’s claw. This medicinal plant from the Amazon region of South America is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. In scientific studies, it has been shown to be effective against osteoarthritis, a common condition of aging.
Order Indian food. It’s loaded with turmeric, the spice used in curry powder that helps to protect against rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, and possibly cancer and heart disease.
Heal your hands. They show signs of aging quickly, including dryness and sun spots. Slather on an extra-thick cream, like Kiss My Face Organic Grapefruit-Bergamot, and use a potent lightening agent such as Reviva Labs Brown Spot skin lightening cream.
Savor a spinach salad. It’s the best source of lutein, an antioxidant that protects the eyes from macular degeneration and other age-related damage. Eggs, corn, broccoli, zucchini, and Romaine lettuce are other good sources.
Vanish veins. To slow development of varicose veins, don’t sit or stand for long periods, do low-impact exercises (think yoga), and try butcher’s broom in supplements or creams to increase capillary strength and reduce swelling.
Better your brew. Green tea is a source of epigallocatechin gallate, a powerful antioxidant that’s especially protective against skin cancer and sun-related damage. Full-strength is best; the decaffeination process lowers antioxidant content by about 50 percent.
Keep smiling. Happy people live 14 percent longer. Plus, frowning leaves scowl lines and creases in the skin. Lessen their appearance with Pangea Organics Turkish Rose and White Tea Eye Cream, or Reviva Labs Eye Complex Firming Cream.
Snack on sardines. They’re loaded with omega-3 fats that lower inflammation and keep skin smooth and supple. And sardines contain fewer toxins than larger fatty fish. Try the boneless, skinless, water-packed variety for a flavor that’s similar to tuna.
Target melatonin. A hormone naturally produced by the body, it’s been shown to maintain lung health and help protect against respiratory problems. Bonus: it can help improve sleep quality.
Protect your bones. Exercise strengthens bones. And dietary calcium is crucial—get it from dark leafy greens, broccoli, sardines (bone-in), sesame seeds, and moderate amounts of dairy. Other bone-protective nutrients: vitamin D and vitamin K. Try a supplement that includes all three.
Nourish your nails. They weaken over time and are prone to breakage. To swipe off polish gently, use No-Miss Almost Natural Polish Remover. It’s organic, and free of acetone and ethyl acetate.
Mix up a smoothie. Load it with berries, almond milk, and whey protein powder; it’s one of the best sources of the amino acids the body needs to produce glutathione, a compound that protects against aging.
Decrease stress. High anxiety accelerates aging. Meditate, practice deep breathing, and try supportive supplements such as ginseng, ashwagandha, and B-complex vitamins. And lighten up; take things a little less seriously, and you’ll enjoy life more.
Take your new anti-aging habits on the road. "Traveling presents unique challenges to maintaining our normal healthy diets. The usual choices between high calories, artificial ingredients, or water are quite limiting," says Neil E. Levin, CCN. "New low-calorie drink mixes with no artificial sweeteners, colors, or flavorings come in portable packets that instantly turn plain bottled water into delicious functional beverages." Neil E. Levin, CCN is a nutritionist and product formulator for NOW Foods.
Think probiotics for all-in-one anti-aging. "It's unfortunate that many people assume probiotics only help with constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, and other digestive problems," says Suzy Cohen, RPh. "The reality is, probiotics help people at a cellular level to reduce inflammatory and pain-causing chemicals while also eliminating toxins from our body, used-up hormones, cholesterol, and carcinogens. They are rock stars at helping to prevent heartburn too." Suzy Cohen, RPh, is the author of The 24-Hour Pharmacist.
Lose the weight naturally. "For most Americans, the critical first step in fighting the effects of aging is achieving ideal body weight and improving insulin sensitivity with PGX," says Michael T. Murray, ND. "The research is clear: obesity and insulin resistance are now the biggest causes of premature aging and mortality. Other nutritional approaches to aging will fail unless these major issues are addressed." Michael T. Murray, ND, is a leading authority on natural medicine and the author of What the Drug Companies Won't Tell You and Your Doctor Doesn't Know.
Michael T. Murray, ND, is the author of more than 30 books on natural health, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Third Edition. He is regarded as one of the world's top authorities on natural medicine, and is a sought-after lecturer and educator. Visit him online at doctormurray.com.