Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth nutrition, fitness and adventure courses, and more than 2,000 instructional videos when you sign up for Outside+..
Since the beginning of time, people have searched far and wide for the mythical fountain of youth. And while various surgical and injectable treatments can certainly help confuse the hands of time, they are only temporary cosmetic fixes that don’t address the underlying issue. But what if you truly had control over preserving youthfulness?
Richard Purvis — a health and wellness practitioner with more than 30 years of dedicated experience in nutrition, exercise, anti-aging and overall wellness, and author of Recalibrate: Six Secrets to Resetting Your Age (Amazon Digital Services, LLC, 2018) — argues that you do: “It’s become clear to me that our Western lifestyles can have a direct impact on our health and how we age. Aging makes us susceptible to certain diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cancer, heart disease, arthritis, and the dreaded Alzheimer’s.”
Through extensive research, Purvis deduced that there are six lifestyle modifications we can make right now to change that fate, and dramatically improve the quality of our lives and how well we age.
1. Nutritional Intake
The most important element involved with the process of reversing aging is what you put in your mouth. “Changes in diet can erase years from your physical appearance and improve overall health dramatically,” says Purvis. “A good diet increases energy, improves sleep and digestion, enhances skin tone and elasticity, clears foggy brains, supports weight loss, and decreases inflammation — which is public enemy No. 1 when it comes to age-related diseases.”
What to do: Purvis advocates a hunter/gatherer approach to eating that includes nutrient-dense foods like organic fruits and veggies, wild fish, free-range chicken, pastured eggs, and grass-fed meats and dairy. This means the elimination of bread, cereals/grains, pasta, rice, carbonated drinks, sugar-laden foods, and the hydrogenated oils (trans fats) found in processed foods, fast foods, and margarine.
Because we evolved from nomadic ancestors who spent all day moving around searching for food and shelter, our bodies are designed for movement. When physical activity diminishes, the body sends signals telling the muscles to degenerate and organs to atrophy. “Without exercise, you miss out on the body’s precise internal ability to signal cells to act younger,” says Purvis. “Basically, the more you move, the less you decay.” Exercise keeps your brain sharp by sparing age-related loss of brain tissue and enhancing cognition, which could prevent Alzheimer’s. Next, it helps prevent cardiovascular disease and other chronic illnesses, such as colon and breast cancer and osteoporosis. Also, exercise can alter your genes, encouraging your DNA to repair itself.
What to do: You don’t have to join a gym or buy pricey equipment if that’s not your style — simply incorporate a minimum of 15–20 minutes of natural body movements into your day, such as walking, sprinting, push-ups, pull-ups, lunges, and squats. Establishing a set time for exercise will ensure it doesn’t fall to the bottom of your to-do list, as consistency and commitment are key.
Purvis names two nutrients as the most beneficial to take in supplement form: vitamin D and Omega 3s. Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, is naturally produced in the skin as a direct result of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun. Adequate doses of vitamin D are essential for the development of bones and teeth — failure to get sufficient amounts raises the potential for developing osteoporosis. Vitamin D deficiency is also linked to an increased risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The second, omega-3 fatty acids, are essential fatty acids, meaning the human body cannot naturally produce them. Research shows that omega-3 can slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease as well as reduce the onset of dementia. Plus, it helps prevent wrinkles and premature aging.
What to do: Purvis recommends taking a vitamin D3 supplement, which is better absorbed, of 2,000–5,000 IU per day in a soft gel. He suggests trying to find one that uses extra virgin olive oil for the base liquid (instead of sunflower or soy oil). For omega-3s, Purvis recommends 2,000–5,000 mg of triglyceride (vs. Ethyl Ester) fish oil per day, either in liquid or soft gel form.
4. Intermittent Fasting
Waiting longer between meals has been shown to stimulate the body’s natural cellular repair process by signaling the body to rejuvenate itself. Purvis says it may also enhance the body’s resistance to oxidative stress (which promotes cancer-causing free radicals), as well as help fight inflammation.
What to do: There is a variety of ways to add intermittent fasting into your lifestyle, so you may need to experiment to find the one that works best for you. Many people favor the 16:8 diet, where you fast for 16 hours (say, 7 p.m. to 11 a.m.) and eat all your meals within an eight-hour window. Another option is the 5:2 diet, where you eat normally for five days a week and then restrict calories two days a week.
5. Healthy Gut
Research studies show evidence linking our guts to many health issues, including brain disorders. Your gut’s microbiome — 100 trillion organisms, including bacteria, fungi and viruses — is fundamental to the breakdown and absorption of nutrients. Imbalances in the microbial community can also adversely affect your immune system.
What to do: Processed foods, sugar, and artificial sweeteners are all factors that damage your microbiome, so eliminate these from your diet. Next, eat gut-enhancing cultured and fermented probiotic-rich foods, such as kimchi, kombucha, pickled vegetables, yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut. Purvis also suggests doing gardening and spending time in nature, to connect your immune system to the trillions of microbes in the soil.
While you’re dreaming, your body is busy renewing cells, rejuvenating muscles and organs, and regulating your hormones. During sleep, explains Purvis, your brain forms new pathways used in memory, and your immune system gets stronger. Medications, caffeine, alcohol, sugar, and blue light from your electronic devices negatively impact your sleep pattern, resulting in less ZZZs.
What to do: If you aren’t getting seven to nine hours of sleep a night, redesign your bedroom with minimal stimulation (no TV or laptops), set it to a comfortable temperature (65–70 degrees), maintain a consistent sleep schedule even on the weekends, develop a pre-sleep routine that signals relaxation time (such as taking a bath or meditating), eliminate caffeinated beverages after midday, and avoid using your smartphone and tablet close to bedtime.
“These six secrets are synergistic steps that, when applied simultaneously, give you the most impactful results,” says Purvis. “The results that can be expected include better overall health, weight loss, a reduction in bodily inflammation, better and more consistent energy levels, better mental aptitude and clarity, reduction in skin wrinkles and puffiness, better skin color, better skin tone, an overall healthier look, better sleep, and better gut health.”
Healthy Aging All-Stars
In addition to Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids mentioned above, here are four more supplements you should consider incorporating into your antiaging routine.
- Vitamin C: More studies are showing the beneficial effects of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) on neurodegeneration, with particular regard to Alzheimer’s disease. Accumulating evidence in mice models indicates a rescuing role of ascorbic acid in premature aging — supplementation appeared to halt cell growth and oxidative stress, and extend lifespan. The Vitamin C Foundation recommends that every man, woman, and child over the age of 3 consume at least 3,000 mg daily.
- Collagen: Collagen is the most common protein found in the body and a vital building block for skin, hair, nails, bones, and joints. It helps keep your skin looking young and your joints working smoothly. But as we age, the body produces less collagen, leading to joint pain, decreased muscle mass, and saggy skin. Collagen peptides have been shown to help with skin dryness — a common sign of aging skin. Additional antiaging effects, such as improved skin elasticity, have also been observed.
- CoQ10: Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a naturally occurring enzyme-containing antioxidants that promote proper cardiac health. A study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension concluded that CoQ10 has the potential to lower blood pressure. Plus, studies show that cardiovascular disease and inflammation are alleviated by CoQ10’s antioxidant properties.
- BCAAs: Because aging is associated with loss of muscle mass and limited mobility, it’s essential to stimulate protein synthesis in older individuals. Branched-chain amino acids (leucine, isoleucine, and valine) can help: Specifically, studies show that leucine is the most potent of the BCAAs for the stimulation of muscle protein synthesis.
Gut Health & Probiotics Probiotics
Have been exploding in popularity and show no signs of slowing down. Part of this has been research-fueled as we continue to learn more about the amazing world of the microbiome inside us. Flora’s Advanced Adult probiotic supports diversity in the microbiome by supplying seven senior-specific strains, totaling 34 billion probiotic cells per capsule. A significant portion of these are Bifidobacteria strains, which support colon health; research shows these populations tend to decline with age. Flora’s probiotic quality testing includes gastric acid and bile resistance, activity versus common food pathogens, potency at manufacture and expiry, adherence to human intestinal lining, and compatibility of the strains with each other. Probiotics support health by discouraging growth of “bad” bacteria, aiding nutrient absorption, supporting the immune system, promoting regular bowel movements, and supporting the health of the gut mucosal lining. For something so small, they really contribute enormously to our overall health and well-being.
Feel Younger with Collagen
Collagen peptides are a solid addition to the diet of anyone wanting to look and feel younger. In addition to more commonly known benefits like beauty and mobility, high-dose, medical-grade collagen peptides build lean muscle and improve wound healing. These benefits come directly from collagen protein’s natural amino acid profile, which is rich in high-nitrogen amino acids like glycine, proline, arginine, hydroxyproline, and hydroxylysine. The extra nitrogen supercharges your body’s recovery processes and is how collagen provides better recovery and tissue regeneration benefits than whey, soy, or any other protein. I like the original medical-grade liquid peptides found in AminoSculpt Sugar-Free. It’s double-hydrolyzed for maximum absorption, ready to use, and highly concentrated.
CoQ10-SR for Cardiac Health
CoQ10 is one of the most intensively studied cardio-protective nutrients. This vitamin-like substance aids in energy production, so it is most common in organs with high-energy requirements such as the heart, liver, and kidneys. Research has shown CoQ10 helps maintain blood pressure levels already within a healthy range. Unfortunately, as we age our cells begin to produce less and less of this nutrient, which is why CoQ10 supplementation is essential for healthy aging. Unlike regular CoQ10 products, CoQ10-SR contains MicroActive CoQ10, which delivers sustained release over 24 hours. Additionally, MicroActive CoQ10 is the only CoQ10 shown in human clinical studies to have universal enhanced absorption across all subjects — thus showing promising results.
Adaptogens for Better Health
Health is dependent on the healthy functioning of your cells. Stress has an impact at the cellular level, depriving cells of their energy supply. Cells become weak and damaged, and then disease and the aging process begin. Here is where adaptogens can help the body in a remarkable way. Especially when the body is under physical or mental stress, adaptogens help the body adapt. They work at the cellular level on every cell in your body, allowing full access to its energy potential. One product we found, Mdrive, has a key Ashwagandha ingredient (a natural botanical from plant roots) that is an excellent adaptogen with 13 human clinical trials showing benefits in stress reduction, increased strength, faster recovery, weight reduction, cardio endurance, memory, and cognition. Mdrive is one of the first in a new category of men’s health supplements that delivers a powerful punch against aging and the resulting fitness fatigue.
The Brain Support You’re Probably Missing
Our brains are made up of 60 percent fat. Omega-3s, EPA and DHA, are the healthy fats our brains and bodies need. And since 90 percent of Americans are deficient in omega-3s, it’s my first recommendation, along with vitamin D3, to my clients, especially my aging clients whose bodies tend to need the extra support. Ultimate Omega-D3 combines a potent dose of these essential nutrients, omega-3s EPA+DHA plus vitamin D3, to support brain health and optimal wellness. The Ultimate Omega formula has been clinically shown to benefit cognitive and mental health in aging adults. Then add some vitamin D3, which has been shown to regulate mood, and this powerful combination provides potent support for healthy cognition and healthy mood at every stage of life.