12 Ways to Feel and Look Younger
Want to hold on to -- or recapture -- your youth? These simple steps promise maximum vitality.
Phase Out Destructive Habits
- The single best thing you can do for your health and longevity is quit
smoking. Smoking has been indicted for a laundry list of ills from heart
disease to lung disorders, all of which can foil your longevity plans.
- Drink only in moderation. Alcohol infuses every cell, damaging genes and
inflaming your liver. A glass of wine a day for women and maybe two for men,
but no more, may be mildly beneficial.
- Get your Zzzz's. Your body needs down time to repair cells and rest your
heart. And your mind needs dreaming to stay sane.
- Find a doctor who specializes in geriatrics or anti-aging. Barbara M.
Morris, RPh, author of Boomers Can Really Put Old on Hold, recommends an
anti-aging doctor. But according to Marc R. Blackman, MD, chief of the
laboratory of clinical investigation of the National Center for Complementary
and Alternative Medicine (part of the National Institutes of Health), a
geriatrician would be more mainstream and recommend fewer unproven treatments.
"Anti-aging is like saying anti-puberty or anti-pregnancy. This is a
natural process," he says. Whatever his or her style, your new doctor may
recommend yearly assessment of various biomarkers, including lipids, DHEA,
estrogen, cortisol, thyroid, lung function, and micronutrient assays.
- Cut saturated fat, up omega-3 fats. It's gospel by now: eat less or no red
meat; lose the cake and ice cream; consume more complex carbs, such as whole
grains, fruits, and vegetables; and get plenty of fatty fish. The healthy fats
in salmon, mackerel, and sardines help keep oxygen free-radical molecules from
damaging your cells.
- Consider moderating your total food intake. Studies in rats show that a 30%
calorie restriction means longer life (no, it doesn't just seem longer!).
Blackman also cites studies in rhesus monkeys showing a gain in years from a
reduction in food. Obviously, losing excess pounds means less strain on your
- Be careful when tweaking your hormones. Morris swears by controversial
human growth hormone -- for her. Blackman is no fan. "There have been big
studies to determine the relationship between decreases in human growth hormone
and thinner bones, more body fat, and mood swings. Giving growth hormone can
build muscle, but it has not been shown that the muscle is any stronger."
HGH has also been associated with water retention, carpal tunnel syndrome, high
blood pressure, and blood-sugar fluctuations. "[HGH science] is not at a
point where any responsible provider could recommend it," Blackman says.
And what about the other substance -- a steroid called DHEA -- often
recommended for aging? "Dramatically less evidence than HGH!" exclaims
Blackman. As for estrogen and progesterone replacement, it's been in all the
papers. The combo therapy may increase, rather than cut, the risk of cancer and
heart disease. Many natural alternatives to these substances exist -- your own
situation should dictate your decision, but always consult your doctor.
- Supplement, supplement, supplement. Most of us suffer from
"overconsumption malnutrition" -- too much of the wrong things, Morris
says. She takes a fistful of vitamins and minerals each morning. Even the
cautious American Medical Association recently endorsed taking a daily
multivitamin. In addition to the effective antioxidant vitamin C, Morris says
CoQ10, vitamin E, alpha lipoic acid (another antioxidant), and perhaps some of
those "mental acuity" mixtures in the health-food store should be in
your medicine cabinet. Again, your doctor can help you fashion routine.
- Reprogram your vision of old age. A study at Yale recently showed that
those with a positive view of growing older lived seven years longer than those
who griped about it. Morris works with young people and "they forget things
all the time and never refer to 'having to a junior moment.'"
- Kick guilt out of your life! Laura Berman Fortgang, author of Living
Your Best Life, says: "Be future-minded. Guilt and regrets are part of
the past. Evolving and changing is how we stay young."
- Don't be afraid to make a big change. Fortgang says it's never too late to
move, join the Peace Corps, change careers, get married, or get a divorce.
"Don't say you're too old," she says. "Sometimes [earlier]
decisions need to be changed." She and Morris also say plastic surgery can
be life-enhancing if you do it to look and feel better, not to change your life
- Morris also half-jokingly advises that people never retire. "Retirement
is a contagious, debilitating disease." Take some time off for a vacation
and smell the roses, she advises. But don't get so intoxicated by the roses
that you don't come back and do something useful. "Those roses could turn
into daisies," she says, "as in pushing up daisies."