Coming of Age

Getting older isn't about fighting time, but enjoying it. Here are 40 of the most surprising and inspiring tips on how to live a longer, healthier life.
Coming of Age
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11. Learn how to feel full: Trimming calories can help reduce cellular inflammation, which drives the aging process by causing disturbances in hormonal signaling between cells, thus decreasing the efficacy of every organ in the body. “Reducing excess calories is only possible if you’re not hungry between meals,” says Barry Sears, M.D., president of the Inflammation Research Foundation. Reach for at least 3 ounces of low-fat protein at breakfast, lunch and dinner, which increase the release of satiety

12. Confide in a friend: “We know regular social interaction has a significant effect on long-term brain health and function,” says Michael Roizen, M.D., a Cleveland-based internist and co-author of the bestselling You series (Rodale). “But you must also have friends with whom you can be intimate and vulnerable. You need to connect with your confidantes at least six times a month.” In a landmark Harvard University study of more than 56,000 women, the absence of a single confidante, as measured in physical decline, was equivalent to being in the highest category of obesity and being a heavy smoker.

13. Snack your way to good sex: Sex is a powerful anti-aging tool: Some studies say it can prolong your life up to 20 years, and others insist gettin’ busy reduces your mortality rate by half. So how can you get in the mood for more action? Eat strategically, says Eric R. Braverman, M.D., author of Younger (Sexier) You (Rodale). Foods with phytoestrogens, such as soy and fish, keep sex hormones at younger levels; lean proteins like turkey and duck contain tyrosine and phenylaline, which boost desire; healthy fats like low-fat yogurt and eggs are packed with choline, a precursor to the brain chemical that controls arousal and lubrication; and high-fiber vegetables, fruits and whole grains are high in glutamine and inositol, which are precursors to the brain chemical that helps you relax so you can climax.

14. Get a massage: A good rubdown does more than lower stress and make you feel like a million bucks: A 2010 study at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles found that Swedish massage can improve immune function, helping your body fight off everything from the common cold to cancer.

15. Replace your morning buzz: Reach for that sweet morning latte and you’ll pay for it later, says Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now (Fair Winds Press). Excess sugar increases your risk of diabetes and autoimmune illnesses, which accelerate aging. Instead of coffee, make a smoothie with a good vitamin powder (like Enzymatic Therapy’s Energy Revitalization System) and healthy sugar (D-ribose). In a recent study, D-ribose increased energy an average of 61 percent after three weeks.

16. Read beauty product labels: Suffering from a chronic condition such as diabetes? If you’ve started using an anti-aging skin-care product and notice improvement, it’s important to continue to use it exactly as directed. “Don’t skip days if the label says not to,” warns Ali. “Chronic disease patients need to stay on schedule in their fight against aging, because their condition can multiply the effects of free radicals on their skin—and a lot of dermal products contain antioxidants to help fight these free radicals.”

17. Move it: New research from The Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas claims that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week, improves short-term memory by increasing blood flow to the medial temporal lobe—where memories are stored. Gettin’ physical also lengthens our telomeres, says Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., founder and chief director of the institute, and the sooner you start, the better: Researchers recently found that women older than 70 who regularly exercised during middle age were in better health than those who didn’t.

18. Think something nice: A recent study found that social exchanges characterized by conflict in mid-life were associated with poor decision-making later in life. Since you can’t always avoid confrontational people, override your cranky thoughts with good ones. “Think of something positive about a person and your brain will latch on to those thoughts instead of negative ones,” says Srini Pillay, M.D., assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard University.

19. Eat bitter: Humans recognize six distinct tastes—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, savory and astringent—and each plays a role in feeding your body and mind. In terms of longevity, however, bitter-tasting foods are the best because they balance sugar cravings, support digestion and metabolize fat, says Stephan Dorlandt, C.N., a clinical nutritionist and herbalist in Los Angeles. Tasty bitters include yellow and green vegetables, such as yellow peppers, broccoli rabe, collard greens, mustard greens, radicchio and chicory.

20. Fight your traffic ticket: New research shows that being engaged in political activities—like appealing a decision made by a public authority, giving a speech at a meeting, or writing a letter to the editor—results in sharper thinking when you’re older. “Political activities reflect selfefficacy, and there’s a correlation between self-efficacy and cognition,” says Pillay.