Turning back the clock isn’t just a sci-fi fantasy. Scientists have found that abandoning a few bad habits, and substituting some easy, healthy ones, can actually slow, stop—or even reverse—the aging process in the body’s most vital systems, including the heart, brain, bones and skin. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones weaken and become more breakable. It affects almost half of everyone over age 50. But getting regular exercise can strengthen bones. Studies have found that resistance training—working out with free weights, weight machines, resistance bands, or your own body weight—is particularly effective for keeping bones strong and actually rebuilding bone density.
Sugary snacks, sweets, and drinks are a guilty pleasure for many of us. Would your guilt-vs.-pleasure balance change if you knew that cupcake or milkshake could actually cause wrinkles? “Findings from research studies suggest that a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate aging,” says the American Academy of Dermatology. Ingested in excess, sugar creates advanced glycation endproducts (or AGEs), which bind to proteins in our skin (collagen and elastin) that keep it looking young, damaging them and actually blocking the body’s efforts at repair.
Good sleep is literally vital: Scientists at UCLA found that just one night of bad sleep actually makes older adults’ cells age faster. While we snooze, the body repairs and reboots its most essential systems, including the brain, immune system and skin. According to a study published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, women who reported getting frequent, good quality sleep experienced “significantly lower intrinsic skin aging” than women who got poor sleep.
The Mediterranean Diet—which emphasizes vegetables, fruits, lean protein and healthy fats like olive oil—has been championed by experts as an effective way to lower heart disease risk and maintain a healthy weight. A new study published in the journal Clinical Nutrition has found it may also improve cognitive function. (Older adults are at increased risk of cognitive decline, including dementia and Alzheimer’s).
Being chronically stressed can age you—all the way down to the cellular level. Harvard Medical School says that being perpetually stressed can shorten telomeres, the structures inside each cell that contain DNA. As telomeres get shorter, cells age and eventually die—the literal process of aging. People with shorter telomeres are at higher risk of developing chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer.
A study published last spring in the journal Aging found it was possible to reduce biological age by three years in eight weeks by making some simple diet and lifestyle changes. That’s what researchers found in a test group who consumed a largely plant-based diet with a probiotic supplement, exercised for at least 30 minutes daily, did relaxation exercises, and slept at least seven hours a night. The scientists found that the study participants’ DNA became 3.23 years younger, on average, after only two months.
And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don’t miss these 35 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID.