While the exact location of the fountain of youth still eludes us, these expert-approved anti-aging secrets can lengthen your life span.
1. Deep-six the sugar
Sugar is public health enemy No. 1 when it comes to aging, says Troy, Michigan–based plastic surgeon Anthony Youn, MD, author of The Age Fix: A Leading Plastic Surgeon Reveals How to Really Look 10 Years Younger. “One study attributed 184,000 deaths each year to sugary drinks like soda pop and punch,” he says. “Not only do they increase your risk of diabetes and being overweight, but the sugar in the drinks also can make you look older.”
2. Give up gluten
Gluten-free diets are trendy for a reason, Dr. Youn says. “Although only 1 percent of the population has true celiac disease [a serious gluten insensitivity], a much higher percentage of the population is sensitive to gluten, which can cause [gastrointestinal] distress, brain fog, weight gain, and generalized inflammation,” he says. Inflammation is the smoking gun in a long list of diseases that can shave years off your life.
3. Eat the rainbow
Colorful fruits and vegetables are chock-full of anti-aging antioxidants—the valuable substances are in the actual pigments that make up the color of these foods, Dr. Youn says. “Eat a wide array of colors to improve your health and slow down the aging process.”
4. Fast occasionally
Everyone is talking about the health benefits of occasional fasting, and research suggests that this way of eating may also have anti-aging benefits and add years to your life. “Fasting” is an umbrella term for several diets that alternate feasts and fasts. Research out of Harvard University found that fasting can increase your life span, slow aging, and improve your health by altering the activity of mitochondrial networks, or the energy centers within our cells. Basically, intermittent fasting keeps mitochondrial networks in a more “youthful” state, the researchers report.
5. Floss your teeth
Flossing your teeth daily will decrease inflammation in your gums, says Michael Roizen, MD, Cleveland Clinic’s chief wellness officer and author of several books, including Real Age: Are You as Young as You Can Be? “Inflammation is one of the greatest causes of aging; it’s linked to heart disease and stroke and impedes the immune system, which increases the risk of infection, cancer, and brain dysfunction,” he says. “Gum disease is one of the biggest causes of inflammation that we have, but we can prevent it by flossing and seeing a dentist twice a year.”
Stress and stressors are everywhere. While that’s tough to change, you can shift the way you react. That’s key because not coping well with stress can take its toll on health and longevity, Dr. Roizen says. “Learning how to manage stress with guided imagery, meditation, deep breathing, or another practice can add years to your life,” says Dr. Roizen, who puts a finger on his belly button to feel it going in and out—and confirm that he’s taking deep breaths—when he’s combating the effects of stress.
7. Supplement smartly
Certain vitamins and supplements can help you live your best life, and that mix can vary according to your stage of life, Dr. Roizen says. “A physician can help guide you,” he says. Consistency is the key. “We know that taking a multivitamin or half of a multivitamin twice a day can decrease cancer and cardiovascular disease risk in men, but only when they take it consistently from age 50 to 70,” he says.
8. Join the D team
Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a host of age-related diseases, many of which can shorten your life. “Get your blood levels tested and supplement accordingly,” Dr. Roizen says.
9. Ask about aspirin
Taking aspirin every day can reduce your risk of stroke or heart attack, but discuss with your doctor whether this therapy makes sense for you (it can also increase the risk of uncontrolled bleeds). “We also know that daily baby aspirin reduces the risk of nine major cancers,” Dr. Roizen says.
10. Take a coffee break
Drinking coffee or tea daily can reduce your risk of developing cancer, diabetes, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease. “Decaf has half of the effect, so caffeinated is better, especially if you are a fast caffeine metabolizer and don’t get headaches, gastric distress, or heart palpitations from caffeine,” Dr. Roizen says. “The more you drink without side effects, the greater the benefits.”