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Anti-aging: 4 reasons we age and how to slow down the clock

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, is the author of the forthcoming book, ”The Great Cholesterol Myth: Why Lowering Cholesterol Won’t Prevent Heart Disease (and the Statin-Free Plan That Will). Follow him @jonnybowden

Slow down the clock

What do heart disease, prostate cancer, dementia, weight gain, sagging muscles and erectile dysfunction have in common? The obvious answer is that none of them are found at the top of your “must-have” or "want-to-have" lists -- but the less obvious answer is that they share one major risk factor: aging.

Woman in her 40s stretching

We can't prevent aging -- but we can age optimally

Aging is actually the No. 1 risk factor for a lot of things you don’t want to have. And while we can’t prevent aging, we can do a lot to ensure that we age optimally. That means reducing the effects of what I call “the Four Horsemen of Aging”: four processes that systemically break down our bodies, age us from within, damage our organs and tissues (including our skin) and contribute to every degenerative disease known to humankind.

The Four Horsemen of Aging: inflammation, oxidation, stress and sugar

A full explanation of how these four processes contribute to the diseases and ailments of aging would take a book. (In fact, I wrote one: It’s called The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer.) But briefly, let me explain.

  1. Oxidation is damage from free radicals that can impact your sex life, the appearance of your skin and the condition of your brain.
  2. Inflammation is the starting point for heart disease and is a big factor in Alzheimer’s, dementia, obesity, diabetes and cancer.
  3. Stress causes your body to release hormones (like cortisol) which, among other nasty things, can shrink the hippocampus, an important area of the brain involved in memory and thinking.
  4. Sugar sends your “fat-storing” hormone (insulin) into overdrive and contributes to aging and disease in multiple ways.

Luckily, there are a number of steps we can take to reduce the damage.

6 Top anti-aging tips for women

Exercise every day

It makes you look better at the beach, prevents muscle “decay” (a condition called sarcopaenia), and improves mood. Even 30 to 45 minutes a day of brisk walking has been shown to grow new brain cells as well as to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and depression.

Take these seven supplements

All supplements are not created equal. I've included name brands that I trust.

  • Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and benefit the heart and brain.
  • Magnesium helps relax blood vessel walls.
  • Vitamin D benefits everything you can think of.
  • Resveratrol turns on longevity genes (Reserveage).
  • Curcumin is anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and an antioxidant (Terry Naturally).
  • Cocoa flavanols help lower blood pressure (CocoaWell).
  • CoQ10 is fuel for the heart.

dark chocolateEat these four superfoods

Put nuts, beans, dark chocolate and berries on heavy rotation in your diet. These four foods provide a particularly impressive range of antiaging benefits.

Drink these three drinks

Water, green tea and pomegranate juice. One study showed that those drinking five or more glasses of water a day could help reduce the risk for heart disease by 53 percent, compared with those drinking two or less a day. Green tea is anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, an anti-oxidant and pro-weight loss! And researchers in Israel call pomegranate juice a “natural Viagra" -- drink up!

Deal with your stress

Stress contributes to every disease, directly or indirectly. It shrinks the brain and increases the waistline. Deal with it -- somehow. Meditation is the best, but even a few minutes of relaxed deep breathing several times a day will help.

Take this advice seriously

Do all six of these anti-aging tips. If you do, chances are you’ll live longer (and better) than if you don’t.

More anti-aging tips

8 Surprising secrets to live longer and look better
5 Ways to stay young
Anti-aging foods to add to your diet

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