Thousands of studies have been done on aging and many are beginning to point to an inescapable conclusion: our lifestyle choices, what we eat and what we don’t eat may actually affect our aging process. Yes, those wrinkles and achy joints may be more in your control than previously believed, and may explain why some people look young for their chronologic age while others look older than they are!
Here are the steps everyone can take to potentially slow the aging process:
- Get active. Go4Life Program, from the National Institutes of Health, suggests regular exercise can help people maintain healthier hearts, brains, blood sugar control and more! Some studies have suggested that for every minute of exercise, you prolong your life by seven minutes.
- Reduce Stress. Sustained stressors such as emotional trauma, feeling threatened or insecure, and even natural disasters appear to be associated with quicker aging. You can reduce the stress you feel from those events by practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation, breathing exercises, and biofeedback.
- Maintain an ideal weight. The National Institutes of Health counts maintaining a healthy weight in their top 7 Steps to Healthy Aging, because being overweight is associated with many chronic diseases. Achieving ideal weight can be hard, but there are many tools available that can help you healthfully lose weight.
- More Sleep. Lack of sleep can have devastating effects on our health, impacting our mood, our memories, and even our resistance to infections. To improve sleep consider having a consistent sleep schedule, use your bed only for sleep, try a “white noise generator” such as a fan, and avoid caffeine in the afternoon & evening.
- Stay Connected. The role of good social relationships is important to our overall health. As we age, having close friends and a variety of social activities is linked to happiness, better cognitive skills, and even a longer life.
- Eat Fruits and Vegetables: The ChooseMyPlate Program, by the United States Department of Agriculture suggests everything you eat is important. Since only nine percent of Americans eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the opportunity for improving health (and longevity) by improving diet is great.
- Take a Multivitamin: The National Institutes of Health suggests a multivitamin/mineral for anyone who isn’t always making the best food choices. Deficiencies of vitamins B12, B6, C, E, niacin, folic acid, iron, or zinc all can lead to accelerated aging process. Everyone should consider a good multivitamin to cover their base nutritional needs.
- Load up on Polyphenols: Polyphenols are found in many fruits, vegetables, green tea, black tea, red wine, coffee, chocolate, olives, and extra virgin olive oil. They are plant-based nutrients that have antioxidant benefits and protective effects against cellular aging.
- Muscadine Grapes: Possess one of the highest antioxidant levels among fruits. They contain a high concentration of polyphenols, but unlike other plants they also contain a high amount of ellagitannin and ellagic acid. Extracts of muscadine grape have been studied for their ability to help maintain a healthy inflammatory response and act as antioxidants,
- Resveratrol: Studies suggest that resveratrol (a type of polyphenol) may slow multiple mechanisms of cellular aging and support heart health.
- Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a flavanol found in tea, has been shown in clinical as well as laboratory studies to act as an antioxidant and possibly provide neuroprotective benefits.
The trajectory of your aging lies, in part, in your hands. There is a lot you can do to help your body look and function better over time. While you can’t stop the clock, incorporate some of the above suggestions to help achieve your healthiest aging!
 Moore SC, Patel AV, Matthews CE, et al. Leisure time physical activity of moderate to vigorous intensity and mortality: a large pooled cohort analysis. PLoS Med. 2012;9(11):e1001335. PMID: 23139642.
 Price LH, Kao HT, Burgers DE, Carpenter LL, Tyrka AR. Telomeres and early-life stress: an overview. Biol Psychiatry. 2013 Jan 1;73(1):15-23. PMID: 22831981;
 Field AE, Coakley EH, Must A, et al. Impact of overweight on the risk of developing common chronic diseases during a 10-year period. Arch Intern Med. 2001 Jul 9;161(13):1581-6. PMID:11434789.
 Cole MG, Dendukuri N. Risk factors for depression among elderly community subjects: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Am J Psychiatry. 2003 Jun;160(6):1147-56.. PMID: 12777274.
 Schmidt C, Peigneux P, Cajochen C. Age-related changes in sleep and circadian rhythms: impact on cognitive performance and underlying neuroanatomical networks. Front Neurol. 2012;3:118. PMID: 22855682.
 Seeman TE, Lusignolo TM, Albert M, Berkman L. Social relationships, social support, and patterns of cognitive aging in healthy, high-functioning older adults: MacArthur studies of successful aging. Health Psychol. 2001 Jul;20(4):243-55. PMID: 11515736.
 Kern ML, Porta SS, Friedman HS. Lifelong Pathways to Longevity: Personality, Relationships, Flourishing, and Health. J Pers. 2013 Aug 8. PMID: 23927423.
 Ames BN, Shigenaga MK, Hagen TM. Oxidants, antioxidants, and the degenerative diseases of aging. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1993 Sep 1;90(17):7915-22. PMID: 8367443.
 Ames BN. Micronutrients prevent cancer and delay aging. Toxicol Lett. 1998 Dec 28;102-103:5-18. PMID: 10022226.
 Fraga CG, Galleano M, Verstraeten SV, Oteiza PI. Basic biochemical mechanisms behind the health benefits of polyphenols. Mol Aspects Med. 2010 Dec;31(6):435-45. PMID: 20854840.
 Greenspan P, Bauer JD, Pollock SH, et al. Antiinflammatory properties of the muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia). J Agric Food Chem. 2005 Nov 2;53(22):8481-4. PMID: 16248541.
 Sandhu AK, Gu L. Antioxidant capacity, phenolic content, and profiling of phenolic compounds in the seeds, skin, and pulp of Vitis rotundifolia (Muscadine Grapes) As determined by HPLC-DAD-ESI-MS(n). J Agric Food Chem. 2010 Apr 28;58(8):4681-92. PMID: 20334341.
 Gourineni V, Shay NF, Chung S, Sandhu AK, Gu L. Muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia) and wine phytochemicals prevented obesity-associated metabolic complications in C57BL/6J mice. J Agric Food Chem. 2012 Aug 8;60(31):7674-81. PMID: 22788667.
 Pastrana-Bonilla E, Akoh CC, Sellappan S, Krewer G. Phenolic content and antioxidant capacity of muscadine grapes. J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Aug 27;51(18):5497-503. PMID: 12926904.
 Khurana S, Venkataraman K, Hollingsworth A, Piche M, Tai TC. Polyphenols: benefits to the cardiovascular system in health and in aging. Nutrients. 2013 Sep 26;5(10):3779-3827.