By Dr. Keoni Teta
Are there really things that we can do to increase the amount of time that we have here on the planet? Can we do it in such a way that also maintains a high quality of life? Can we actually slow down aging now? Will we in the very near future be able to stop or reverse the aging process? Many scientists believe the answer to all of these questions is yes.
One of my favorite authors, Ray Kurzweil, has written best-selling books that answers all these questions with a resounding yes. The basic premise of one my favorite books by him, The Singularity is Near, is that technology is accelerating at such a fast pace that within only a few decades, aging will be a thing of the past. This is pretty bold statement to say the least; however, when looking at the strides in research in nanotechnology, genetics, lifestyle medicine, conventional medicine, etcetera, one has to at least come to the conclusion that we do, at this time, have some control over how fast we age.
What we know today is that aging is primarily a result excessive free radical damage our body. Free radicals are atoms, molecules, or ions with unpaired electrons that are highly reactive; meaning they can bind to molecules in your body thus inactivating them which overtime leads to chronic inflammation. All chronic diseases are basically just exaggerations of excessive free radical accumulation or inflammation. So the accumulation of free radical damage over time leads to aging. This aging or breakdown is analogous to parts of a car wearing out over time and needing to be replaced.
In a healthy person, the amount of free radical accumulation tends to be balanced by the amount of antioxidants in the body. At this point in the history of our species, the free radical accumulation eventually wins out, and hence we age and die. If what Ray Kurzweil, and many other scientists are saying is true, “that aging will be a thing of the past in the near future,” then the question becomes, what can we do now to slow down the aging process? Or to put it another way for my more pessimistic peers, “What can we do now to at least improve the health of our body?”
You see, in my mind, improving your health and slowing down aging are basically one in the same.
So based on the most up-to-date research, the following 10 tips are easy-to-do strategies that the average person can incorporate into their every day life to improve their health, slow down the aging process and significantly increase their chances of a long and healthy life.
1) Breathe Clean Air
This is obvious because the most important nutrient that body requires is oxygen. What many people do not realize is that indoor air tends to be highly contaminated relative to outdoor air. Everyone interested in anti-aging should get out doors and enjoy the fresh air as much as they can everyday. Also, for those who can afford it consider getting an air purifier for your living space and/or workspace. Another option is keeping plenty of plants in your living and working spaces.
2) Drink Water
Water is the second most important nutrient for the body. Without it we would die in few days. Yes, drinking water from a pure source like an uncontaminated spring is the best kind to drink; however, finding and having access to water like this is almost impossible these days. Drinking filtered water is the next best option, but there is a small cost attached to it. I always tell my clients that tap water relative to soda or sweetened drinks is almost always the better option. The important thing to remember here is, man-made sweetened drinks at best do nothing for your body and at worst quicken your age.
3) Eat your Vegetables
Vegetables contain an abundance of anti-aging molecules in them called phytonutrients; and furthermore, contain lots of fiber relative to sugar. There is not a food out there that has a better fiber to sugar ratio when compare to vegetables or herbs. The phytonutrients, fiber and low sugar content are powerful weapons against free radicals. Every time a different phytonutrient in vegetables is studied by science their anti-aging effects on the body become apparent. The high fiber/sugar ratio supports gut health, which translates directly to total body health.
4) Eat a Variety of Culinary Herbs
Similar to vegetables, culinary herbs have extremely potent plant chemicals in them that slow down aging. Unlike vegetables, only small amount of herbs (i.e. ginger, cocoa, pepper, turmeric, etcetera) go a long to helping your body slow down the aging process. Did you know that cinnamon is one the most powerful anti-oxidants known to science? You do not need a lot to give you the anti-aging benefit. The take home message here is use them whenever possible and use a wide variety. If you like to cook do yourself and your family an anti-aging favor and use many different kinds of herbs.
5) Eat your Protein
This is your body’s most important macronutrient. Almost every single biochemical process in your body requires protein. Furthermore, protein has to be replaced in the body everyday, unlike the other macronutrients fat and carbohydrates. In our bodies there are enzymes (proteins) that assist in neutralizing the daily free radical barrage we are subjected to. These enzymes are our body’s most important antioxidants.
6) Minimize Sugar Consumption
Many people consider this tip to be the most important one for anti-aging. Yes it is true that we need small amounts of carbohydrate (sugar) for good health; however, the amount of sugar the average person gets far exceeds this. A good rule of thumb for slowing the aging process is to avoid or minimize processed food and you will minimize your sugar consumption. Just eat real or whole food. The more processed a food is the more sugar it likely has in it.
7) Avoid the Consumption of Synthetic Man-made Products when Possible
Any substance that does not speak the same language as our DNA probably will accelerate aging if consumed long enough. In other words, it is unlikely for any synthetic substance that we consume long enough to interact with our bodies in a holistic beneficial way.
8] Exercise or Move
Life is defined as movement. If you want to live a long and healthy life you have to move everyday. Our ancient ancestors never had any concept of what exercise is because they did not live in a sedentary world. Today to maintain health and to slow the aging process down everyone needs to exercise or at the least be physically active everyday. Count yourself lucky if you have a job that keeps you on your feet all day.
9) Getting Plenty Sleep
This is the prime time when our bodies repair themselves. Without sleep we create copious amounts of free radicals. The old adage, “Get Your Beauty Sleep” is as true today if not more so as it was for our ancestors. In fact, people today on average are sleeping less than people only 50 years ago. You have to sleep to slow down how fast you age.
10) Spend time with Family or Loved Ones (Maintain and Nurture Social Connections)
Another book to read about longevity is called Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. This book tells us about areas in the world where people are living well past the average US life expectancy. There is one common thread to all these areas that peaked my interest; and that is how social connections that are nurtured and maintained appear to influence life extension and quality of life.
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