Every year, every month, every day, every hour, every minute, down to every single second that you are alive, you are getting older. And your body constantly experiences age-related changes that all too often lead to reduced energy, painful joints, droopy skin, unsightly wrinkles and overall declining health. But what if I told you that getting older and the physical process of aging don’t have to be so closely intertwined? And what if you had the ability to slow down the aging of your body so much that you could actually live to see — and more importantly — enjoy your 100th birthday? Well, guess what? All this is within your power. In fact, simple changes in your daily life can prevent many of the common symptoms associated with aging. Read on for some of the best strategies to discover true vitality and longevity. Bonus: They’ll also keep you out of the doctor’s office.
1. Eat a Brazil nut every day.
One Brazil nut contains all the selenium you need for a day, which is essential to a properly functioning immune system. This mineral is a constituent of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant and immune booster made naturally in your body. Research shows selenium can help fight infections, maintain brain function as we get older and prevent some cancers.
2. Work out all day long (without knowing it).
Neat (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) refers to all the things you do when you aren’t purposely exercising: pacing while on the phone, walking somewhere instead of hopping in the car, climbing stairs, cleaning the house…. Try to never remain continuously seated for an hour. You can burn hundreds, even thousands, of extra calories by finding little ways to move more every day.
3. Brush up on the health of your mouth.
Place an egg timer next to the sink, set it to two minutes and brush your teeth until the alarm goes off (remember to floss afterwards!). For a bit of brain aerobics, try brushing with your non-dominant hand. By making yourself do things differently, you’ll activate new circuits and enhance the production of neurotrophins, growth factors in the brain. Bonus: People with less bacteria in their mouths typically have better cognitive functioning than those with dirty mouths!
4. Put your purse on a diet.
The American Chiropractic Association takes issue with massive handbags. If they’re tipping the scales at more than 10 percent of your body weight, they should be out of the question. The long-term effects on your skeleton aren’t so hip. Think loss of balance, decrease in spinal health, curvature of the spine, chronic headaches, backaches and increased risk of injury. Remember: If you’re a 150-pound woman, your bag needs to weigh less than 15 pounds.
5. Cook with coconut oil.
It’s healthier to switch between your oils so you’re not constantly cooking with the same type. Coconut oil is composed of medium-chain fatty acids, which produce energy, rather than the long-chain fatty acids found in animal fats. Using a combination of different types of fats has been linked to a reduction in type 2 diabetes and heart disease risk.
6. Add some spice with turmeric.
Chronic inflammation is thought to be at the core of almost every modern disease. One way to combat it? Turmeric. In a study from the University of California, Los Angeles, curcumin, a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound found in this Indian spice, helped reduce the accumulation of amyloid protein plaques in mice, the same plaques seen in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Previous research has shown a lower incidence of Alzheimer’s among elders in India, possibly due to the popularity of turmeric in their native cuisine.
7. Tune in to Mozart.
Wake up your brain cells by listening to classical music while reorganizing your sock or underwear drawer. Brain studies show that it excites and enhances firing patterns in the brain that are used to process and execute complex tasks requiring advanced reasoning, such as math and engineering. In other words, it could enhance your intelligence. (And it’s relaxing, too!)
8. Connect with a friend.
Love is a powerful drug, and friendship may be the best medicine of all. We simply thrive better with a close circle of friends who care. People who characterize themselves as socially connected tend to have lower blood pressure and stronger immunity. Plus, the more you plug in to your community of friends and family, the higher your cognitive performance. Not convinced? A study of over 300,000 people at Brigham University and the University of North Carolina showed that spending time with friends not only has health benefits, it decreases your risk of an early death.
9. Play games on your phone.
Your latest cellphone-game addiction is actually a good thing! Researchers created one experiment in which 3,000 older adults performed cognitively challenging activities, such as crossword puzzles. During the study they performed the activities 10 times, for an hour or more. By the end of the research their brains were functioning at the level of someone 10 years younger.
10. Flavour your water (naturally).
Hydrate all day long! It’s an anti-aging essential. Here are six ways to enhance the taste with antioxidant power:
– Put a few slices of cucumbers, strawberries, lemon or orange.
– Squeeze a lemon for a boost of citrus.
– Add ginger for some zing.
– Turn it into tea! Try caffeine-free fruit-flavoured herbal teas.
Bonus! Short-term-memory test
Look at this grocery list for 30 seconds. Write down everything you can remember. Try it again 17 days after following these tips and see how much you’ve improved.
Spinach, blueberries, eggs, one litre of skim milk, broccoli, organic green beans, baby carrots
Four chicken breasts, oatmeal, low-fat yogurt, detergent, whole pineapple, walnuts
Chatelaine expert: Dr. Mike Moreno is a California-based family physician and author of the bestselling 17 Day book series, including his latest, The 17 Day Plan to Stop Aging.