My 90-year-old grandmother told me, “You can’t get any younger, but you sure can get old in a hurry.” If you think about it, that statement is very true. Have you ever noticed how certain stressful situations “age” a person? A serious illness, like cancer, can make a person look much older, and feel much older, than they truly are.
Growing older is a fact of life, we cannot stop it. We can, however, actually reverse the aging process to add quality years to our life.
You have two ages: your chronological age and your real age.
Your chronological age is how long you have been alive. You cannot change your chronological age no matter what you do, it grows every second, every hour, every day, you cannot stop it or slow it down. This is the age you tell someone who asks, “How old are you?” Your chronological age is JUST a number.
Your real age is the age your body “thinks” it is. You can be 40 years old in chronological years but your real age could be 35, 45, or 55. The real age depends on how well, or how poorly, you take care of your body. This age can be changed. You can get much older or much younger depending on your own lifestyle choices.
Real age is an excellent indicator of your overall health. Beginning at about age 25, unless we consciously change our habits, we begin to lose about 1% of all our body functions every 2 years. So, by the time we are 45 years old, we’ve lost about 10% of the functioning ability of our heart, our liver, our kidneys, eyes, hearing, lung capacity, everything. Fortunately, we can restore these processes through lifestyle changes.
Our cardiovascular system is the greatest measure of our real age. Preventing aging of your heart and blood vessels is the single most important thing you can do to live a longer and higher quality life. Fortunately, you can slow the aging process of your circulatory system in a measurable and reliable way.
Blood pressure is the most important gauge in determining the health of your heart and blood vessels. Keeping your blood pressure below the magic numbers of 120/80 will keep this system functioning at youthful levels. When pressure is high, small tears occur in the walls of blood vessels. These tiny “cuts” are covered over by cholesterol. When the pressure increases and the tears become deep, they can go down into the middle layer of the artery wall and cause inflammation in that area. This causes swelling that further increases pressure. Also, the cholesterol covering can form sort of a scab over the injury and could possibly break off. This scab is now called a thrombus and if your body does not dissolve this before it reached the brain, it may lodge itself in the small blood vessels, becoming a clot, and causing a stroke.
When blood pressure is high, you also have what is called “end organ” damage. Your “end organs” are the organs in your body where blood flow goes to “feed” your organs. Your kidneys are an excellent example. As blood is pumped into your kidneys, the tiny, fragile, inner workings of the organ are doing their job. When the pressure is too high, the tiny vessels inside the kidneys get damaged under the intense pressure. The constant increased force damages the kidneys and they begin to malfunction. This leads to an increase in fluid and waste products in the blood that would normally be filtered out of the body. The increased fluid causes blood pressure to further increase and the waste products cause a constant, low-level inflammation.
Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.
Here are 20 quick ways to take up to 67 years off your real age:
1. Getting at least 10,000 steps a day can make your body 2 years younger after just six months. Many people use the excuse, “I walk a lot at work.” If that is the case, buy yourself a pedometer and see how many steps you take during your work day. You can find a pedometer at just about any department or sports related store. Many smart phones now have an app to record your steps also. Just mark down your step number every time you get home from work over the course of a week. If you averaged 10,000 steps per day, congratulations, you get enough walking at your job. Anything below 10,000 steps per day, go get those magic 10,000 steps per day.
2. While you are outside walking, your body is absorbing sunlight and converting it into active vitamin D. Thirty minutes of winter sunlight or fifteen minutes of summer sunlight in a short sleeved shirt is all most people need to keep their vitamin D levels adequate. Darker skinned people need more sunlight while fairer skinned individuals will require less. If you do not have any underlying medical conditions, like osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, etc., you should keep your vitamin D level at about 60. If you do have a medical condition, depending on the severity, keeping your vitamin D levels over 100 can be very beneficial. Taking vitamin D supplements can help in this area. By keeping this level up, you will be one year younger.
3. If you are a smoker, stop. If you live with a smoker, you will have to avoid second hand smoke in order to shave 7 years off your real age. Sitting next to someone who is smoking for 15 minutes has been shown to have the same damaging effects as smoking one cigarette. Keep your distance from smokers. If your spouse smokes, give as much support as possible to get him or her to stop.
4. Your mother told you to brush and floss your teeth. If you listened to mom and continue to do that today, you will take 6 years off your real age. Researchers have concluded that the same bacteria found in the mouths of those with poor oral hygiene, causes aging of the blood vessels. By keeping these bacteria from growing in your mouth, you will keep them from growing on your blood vessels.
5. Many doctors recommend taking a daily aspirin to keep your cardiovascular system in good working order. By swallowing 162mg of aspirin a day, you can make yourself 2 years younger after three years. Swallow your aspirin whole with a full glass of water. Taking it with water prevents it from sticking to the side of your stomach or getting lodged in your esophagus (the tube leading from your mouth to your stomach) on the way down. You also should not use a chewable form of aspirin. Chewing aspirin will increase your risk of developing tooth decay.
6. Managing your finances is something that most people should do anyway but you normally wouldn’t associate this with a youthful body. Financial worry is one of the most damaging forms of stress and by eliminating that excess tension; you will lower your real age roughly eight years. That’s extra time to spend your children’s inheritance!
7. Continuing with the subject of stress, general stress reduction will give you another six years off your real age. Even simple stress reducers like lying down and breathing deeply, scrunching your face and holding it for ten seconds, or calling friends on the phone can help lower body tension. When you go for your daily 30 minute walk, take your phone with you and call family or friends. Here’s a tip for you guys out there; call your mother. If you really want to impress a loved one, go for a walk and call your spouse.
8. Now that you have impressed your wife (or husband), having sex is an excellent way to stay young. By having sex at least three times a week, you can lower your real age anywhere from two to eight years. The difference in the age reduction has to do with the quality of sex. The more satisfying sex is for both you and your partner, the greater the age reduction. It is not just the act of making love but the love in making the act that counts.
9. After all that love making, you are going to want to get a good night’s sleep. Getting about seven hours of sleep every night will get you another three years.
10. Having fun makes you feel younger and playing mind games or thinking games will keep your body younger. Reading, doing crossword puzzles, word searches, or anything that exercises your mind on a regular basis will do away with two and a half years.
11. What you put in your mouth significantly contributes to your real age. Learning to read food labels and following a few simple rules can shave three and a half years off your real age. Look on the labels and avoid saturated fat, trans fat, sugar, hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, and anything that says “enriched.” Corn syrup is in most canned or bottled sauces and actually fools our brain into thinking we have not eaten as much food as we have. Stay away from food that contains any of those substances listed above in the first five ingredients on the label.
12. Most people know that eating fish is good for you. Unfortunately, many people put breading on it and fry it in oil. This counteracts any benefit you will get from eating fish. Eating non-fried fish at least three times a week will take off three years from your real age. The omega-3 oils in fish help to prevent those tiny tears in our blood vessels and decrease inflammation in the body. If you cannot stomach fish, taking fish oil capsules at a dose of two grams a day is roughly the equivalent of eating three servings of fish per week.
13. Another important part of anyone’s diet should be fruits and vegetables. Research shows that eating five servings of fruit and four servings of vegetables a day will take one and a half years from your real age.
14. More and more experts are recommending that we add nuts to our diets. Nuts contain a great amount of healthy fats. Eating an ounce of mixed nuts (peanuts don’t count in this case) every day can reduce real age by four years. Walnuts have the highest concentration of beneficial fats, just twelve walnuts a day is all you need.
15. Have a fatty appetizer. Eating a high fat food prior to your regular meal will make you feel fuller faster. Avocado is probably the best choice here since it contains many beneficial substances along with being a great source of health fats. Eating half an avocado a day or something equivalent, will take two years off your real age.
16. White food increases inflammation which means increased aging. Avoid white foods like bread, flour, sugar, white rice, or white pasta. The only acceptable white foods are fish, egg whites, cauliflower and coconut. Keeping all those processed, unhealthy, white foods from going into your body will eliminate three and a half years from your real age. Cow’s milk is good for baby cows. It has some good assets and some bad characteristics when consumed by humans. Limit your cow’s milk consumption.
17. Calcium and magnesium work together in your body in many different areas. By getting at least 1,200mg of calcium a day and 400mg of magnesium a day, you can do away with another one and a half years. Your body can only absorb calcium when it has the proper amount of vitamin D (go back to tip #2 if you need more vitamin D). Also, you can only absorb about 600mg of calcium every six hours. So you will have to take your calcium two or three times a day to get the proper amount. If you are a coffee or soda drinker, you will have to increase your supplemental calcium 50mg a day for every cup of coffee or can of soda you drink.
18. Any woman who has been pregnant knows the importance of folic acid. When cells divide and grow, they need folic acid to properly duplicate the DNA inside the nucleus. Not having enough folic acid increases the chances of a mutation that can lead to diseases like cancer. A daily intake of 800mcg of folic acid lowers your real age by one year.
19. I am an advocate for strength training. Resistance exercise, weight lifting, using resistance bands, pumping iron, whatever you want to call it, keeps you healthy. This form of exercise will preserve bone strength and add muscle mass to your body. The added muscle mass burns calories 24 hours a day and keeps your metabolism high. Averaging just ten minutes a day takes off one and a half years from your real age.
20. Prescription drugs. Taking your medication correctly will make you another year younger. About half of the people who are on prescription blood pressure medication do not take it correctly. In my own experience, about 80% of patients do not even know why they are taking a certain medicine or even the name of their prescriptions.
Even if you can add just ten quality years to your life, what kind of a difference would that make to your grandchildren, or great-grandchildren? You will carry decades of life experience with you to pass on to future generations. What pieces of advice can you give to a loved one? What insight can you give to a family member who is making a major decision? Think about the future. Think about your legacy. Think about the memories your family will have of you when you are gone. Think of the impact you will make in a child’s life. Let’s stay on God’s Earth as long as we can.