Here’s How to Stop Aging, Says Science — Eat This Not That

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Could the Benjamin Button effect be a real thing? Perhaps not, but there are certainly things you can do to slow down the aging process and live a healthier, more vibrant life as you grow older. Just a few small lifestyle changes can protect your cells and positively impact your overall health—here’s how. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.

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You don’t need to be in the gym every day or train like an athlete to reap the rewards of exercise. Evidence from the “blue zones” shows consistent, smaller bouts of exercise—for example, walking—are linked to a longer, healthier life, and other studies show that regular exercise can prevent aging on a cellular level. “We all know people who seem younger than their actual age,” says Larry Tucker, professor of exercise science at Brigham Young University. “We know exercise can help with that, and now we know that part of that may be because of its effect on our telomeres.”

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Mature woman with sore throat, standing in living room at home.
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Smoking is terrible for your health, and will prematurely age your skin. One study into nonsmokers and their twins who smoked highlighted the incredibly negative impact smoking has on physical appearance. “This study confirms some of what was believed in the most scientific way possible,” says lead researcher Dr. Bahman Guyuron. “With longer follow-up, we believe that every smoking twin might have exhibited a difference in aging. Smoking reduces the collagen formation, results in collagen degradation and reduces the skin circulation. Additionally, nicotine reduces the skin thickness. All of these reduce skin elasticity and (cause) premature aging.”

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A nutritious, balanced diet is crucial for longevity and a healthy life: The Mediterranean Diet has long been considered one of the best ways of eating for longevity and healthy aging. “As a nutritionist, I often recommend trying to incorporate foods from the Mediterranean-style diet — which is high in vegetables, fruits, olive oil and whole grains, and moderate in protein and animal fats — into your eating routine,” says Lauren Armstrong, RDN. “Research suggests that primary foods in this diet can help ward off chronic diseases and improve longevity. Another study found there may also be benefits for the brain.”

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Too much alcohol not only negatively affects your appearance, it can speed up the aging process. “Drinking is classified as two drinks a day. There’s a huge amount of damage to the skin that occurs; alcohol affects any mucous membrane, from the pancreas and liver to the skin,” says New York nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez. “The first effect is dehydration, as it actually takes all the fluid out of the skin. If you look at a woman who has been drinking for 20 or 30 years, and a woman the same age who hasn’t at all, we see a massive difference in the skin—more wrinkles from that dehydration damage, which can make you look 10 years older. If you do give it up, the good thing is that your skin, like any other organ, has the ability to regenerate. The body has a fabulous rate of rehydration. But that regeneration depends on how much damage has been done. If you’ve been drinking for 15 to 20 years and stop, I think it’s great, but can you regenerate your skin back to [that of] a normal 50-year-old? Once you destroy the collagen, it is hard to get back.”

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Want to protect your brain from the aging process for as long as possible? Play some video games (no, seriously). Research has shown that playing video games can improve short-term memory in older adults, and encourage brain plasticity. “I describe it like when you first start going to a new job and you have to learn new routes — you’re using your hippocampus to navigate there,” says Greg West, researcher and psychology professor at the University of Montreal. “We believe something similar is happening in these 3D platform games, like Super Mario 64.” And to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these 101 Health Habits You Didn’t Know Were Deadly.

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