21. Eat like an Italian: In a 2011 Rush University Medical Center study, researchers found that the Mediterranean diet, long known to be heart-healthy and reduce risk of certain cancers, is now also associated with a slower rate of cognitive decline in older people. This diet—rich in fruits and vegetables, legumes, olive oil, potatoes and fish—also helped prevent Alzheimer’s disease in subjects.
22. Take your magnesium: Seventy-five percent of Americans don’t get their Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) of this important nutrient, which affects agerelated conditions like bone, heart and brain health, says Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., author of Magnesium Miracle (Ballantine Books). One of the most affordable and absorbable options is powdered magnesium citrate, which you can take with hot or cold water. A serving a day of magnesium-rich cacao and kale can also help.
23. Teach what you know: New research from The Center for BrainHealth shows that the brain develops stronger neural connections when we learn a skill well enough to teach it. So, test your ability to pass on info in new ways. “Start by teaching one person, then move to small groups, and then on to more public forums—each one places greater demands on the brain,” says Chapman.
24. Beware of calorie trends: New studies show cutting calories leads to longevity, but be careful before subscribing to this trendy edict, says Ebanks. If insufficient calories are consumed, you won’t have the energy for necessary, vigorous exercise. “Do you want to live better for as many years as you can, or live longer irrespective of the quality?” he asks. The Calorie Restriction Society is a proponent of the “more years” philosophy, but it requires trimming calories by 30 percent to 40 percent—a level Ebanks says is not sustainable for most people.
25. Keep working: Can’t wait to quit your day job? Be careful what you wish for. New data from the United States, England and 11 other European countries suggest that the earlier people retire, the more quickly their memories decline. Researchers found that the longer subjects kept working, the better they did on memory skills tests in their early 60s. Some experts say social and personality skills known to support a healthy aging brain—like getting up in the morning, dealing with others and knowing the importance of being prompt and trustworthy—may play a role here, because these factors are highly valued in the work environment.
26. Relax your face: It’s great to book a massage for your body, but don’t forget your face! Facial massages stimulate circulation, creating softer, suppler skin and a younger-looking complexion, says Lynn Anderson, Ph.D., N.D., R.Y.T., a naturopathic doctor and yoga and fitness instructor in Los Angeles.
27. Take your Ls if you’re vegetarian: L-glutamine and L-arginine are amino acids found mostly in protein-rich animal sources (chicken, turkey), seafood (halibut, lobster, salmon) and wild game (pheasant, quail). “A lack of L-glutamine and L-arginine in vegetarians can make them age faster,” says Michael Aziz, M.D., internist at Lenox Hill hospital in New York City and author of the Perfect 10 Diet (Cumberland House). To supplement, take 2 grams of L-glutamine and 1 gram a day of L-arginine at night. Studies show these supplements can tighten skin, increase fat loss and help build muscle as we age.
28. Eat your water: To slow or reverse age-related cellular dehydration, aim to eat three or more fruits and five or more vegetables per day to obtain optimal cell hydration, says Howard Murad, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and associate clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California, Los Angeles. In fact, he suggests replacing at least one glass of water a day with a raw veggie or fruit: “Colorful, water-rich produce is the best form of water for your cells, as fruits and vegetables provide structured water and antioxidants, so hydration stays in your system long enough for your body to put it to good use.”
29. Tell your story: Judith Kolva, Ph.D., a psychologist who focuses on aging, says adults who write down their life stories use skills highly valued by longevity experts. “Writing our memoirs helps us bestow knowledge, offer advice and give meaning to experiences—all components in aging w ell,” she says.
30. Get healthy, not skinny: Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., executive director of the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health in Boston, says being thin doesn’t necessarily make you live longer. “Being in the middle zone of the BMI scale is actually associated with the longest life span,” she says. Just be sure to choose your calories wisely. A 2011 University of Maryland study found that eating lots of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and fish leads to better quality of life in older adults, but those who indulged in sweets had a 37 percent higher risk of death.