Anti-Aging Hacks You Need to Know

Our culture is completely consumed with slowing down aging and increasing longevity, but growing old is 100% unavoidable. Aging is a natural process and unfortunately, even though we cannot stop it, we can slow it down. There are several measures you can take regardless of your age that can turn back your biological clock and help you live longer.

Specifically today I am going to be discussing cellular aging. Our cells age based on the number of times they replicate. A cell can replicate about 50 times before the genetic material is no longer copied accurately, which happens with shortened telomeres. Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, similar to the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Without these caps, shoelaces become frayed until they can no longer do their job; this is exactly what happens with telomeres. DNA strands become damaged and our cells can’t do their job. The more damage done to cells by free radicals and other factors, the more cells need to replicate decreasing telomere length and leading to cell death.

DNA makes up all of the cells in our body. It is the genetic material that makes us who we are. And every organ in our body (skin, liver, heart, etc.) is made up of cells. So, telomeres are vital to our health span.

The study of telomeres is a growing area of research and one that I find incredibly fascinating especially since our lifestyle choices have a direct impact on telomere length.

You see, short telomeres put you at a greater risk not just for wrinkles but also for heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s. So if we do our best to keep our telomere length from shortening we could delay aging – sounds brilliant right?!

It turns out keeping our telomere length in check is not too hard. You don’t need expensive treatments, or supplements or special foods – it has everything to do with lifestyle! There are some key lifestyle factors we need to pay attention to which include diet, exercise, stress, and sleep. If we focus on these factors we can slow down our aging process.

Diet: The foods we eat affect our genetic expression. The key is to limit the top inflammatory foods, which include sugar, gluten, and dairy. The goal is to consume a plant-based diet using animal food as a condiment and to choose anti-inflammatory forms of protein and dairy.

How to Take Action: Skip the processed foods that can drastically raise your blood sugar, such as pop, juice, sweetened coffee drinks, French fries, cookies, and cake. Eat quality carbohydrates that contain fibre such as squash, quinoa, berries, and sweet potatoes. Get in Omega-3 fats by eating wild caught fish once or twice a week that is low in mercury such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel. Add in flaxseeds and chia seeds to your diet. Replace processed oils such as corn, vegetable, and canola and opt for coconut oil, avocado oil, ghee and olive oil. Cook more and eat homemade meals as much as you can. Eat green vegetables at least twice a day – the goal is between 5-10 cups of non-starchy veggies a day. Drink plenty of water aiming for 3 liters a day. Remember about 80% of our weight is related to the food we choose to have and 20% is due to exercise, sleep, hormones and genetics. Remember you are what you eat!

Exercise: After the age of 35, your body fat rises 1 percent per year unless you take action to build more muscle. Exercise has so many benefits to our health and shouldn’t just be seen as a weight loss tool. Exercise results in improved energy, mood and brain function. Studies have shown that some of the genes affected by exercise involve your skin. Exercise keeps your skin young and may turn around sagging and other forms of skin aging.

How To Take Action: Try to find something you enjoy but make sure you to get in a mix of strength training and cardio – try to do interval training as it really gets your heart rate up. Aim to get in at least 45 minutes of exercise at least 3-4 times a week. Increased muscle mass from strength training also keeps the metabolism revved, which improves the body’s ability to burn fat. There is always room to move more in our lives. Make it a priority to exercise to help you feel amazing and slow down the aging process!

Stress: We all live such busy lives and can’t help but feel stressed all the time – so much to do and so little time. If you are prone to stress easily or recover slowly from stress the excess stress hormones may become toxic to your body. High levels of stress hormones like glucocorticoids shorten your telomeres and release chemical messengers that promote inflammation. Stress is a normal part of life but when you are in a chronic state of stress it can be very damaging.

How to Take Action: The key is to manage stress is to find ways to release it. One method to help deal with stress is by meditating. Meditation retrains the brain and mind structurally, physiologically and psychologically so that you can navigate stress better. Meditation can be a form of praying, yoga, connecting positively with others or a hobby such as knitting – the goal is to get you to breath slower so your mind slows down and enters a more settled, aware state. Find what works for you and be consistent with it – even 10 min a day will work. When you meditate practice breathing deeply in and out through your nose.

Sleep: Most of us are not getting enough sleep. Our hectic lives, caffeine overload, grueling desk jobs, never-ending screen time and artificial light in the evenings are contributing to less sleep and accelerated aging. When your circadian clock is disrupted your cells don’t like it and your health can suffer. If you can master your sleep you will find it easier to balance your hormones, manage your weight, make better decisions, and improve your health.

How to Take Action: The goal is to get about 7-8.5 hours a night. Sleep deprivation changes the expression of one in three genes, insane right?! Some ways to help you get to bed early and get more quality sleep are to avoid stimulants such as coffee, especially in the afternoons. Try your best to exercise in the morning and make sure your bedroom is dark and cool when you go to bed. An hour before bedtime, turn off electronics so you can start to wind down.

These lifestyle habits are not easy – I struggle with many of these myself. Try your best to follow these tips to not only slow down aging but to increase your lifespan and to feel your best!

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