5 ways to slow down the aging process
These anti-aging strategies tackle aging at the cellular level, boosting your health no matter your age.
How to slow down the aging process has less to do with tackling the wrinkles on your face, and more to do with caring for your inner health. With the right lifestyle and nutrition changes outlined below, you can learn how to slow down the aging process at a cellular level.
The result? Improved mental clarity and higher levels of energy no matter your age.
Is it possible to slow down the aging process?
Yes, it is possible to slow down the aging process. In fact, it might even be possible to reverse aging too. How? It starts within your cells.
There are more than 300 theories of aging, and the biological aspects of getting older are understandably quite complex. We won't get into all of the cellular mechanisms and biological processes, but it basically boils down to factors like:
The health of each individual cell
The damage sustained to each cell due to damage, tension and oxidation (i.e, the free radicals that your body is exposed to through poor diet, environmental toxins, etc).
The process of "replicative aging," which refers to the limited times a cell can divide itself before it dies.
Those tell-tale surface signs of aging that we’re all so aware of — fine lines around your eyes, changing hair colour, etc. — reveal important changes happening at this deeper, cellular level. And the good news is that you have the power to influence your cellular health, and thus, can learn how to slow down the aging process.
When it comes to aging, one-way scientists “measure” the health of your cells is by looking at the length of your telomeres (a type of DNA structure within your cell). As your telomeres shorten, your cells break down, which is why Stanford University says that lengthening and protecting your telomeres is like "turning back the internal clock". In other words, it's like reverse aging (almost time travel, right?).
What are 3 ways of slowing the aging process?
Essentially, the cells in your brain and body break down over time. After a certain point, your cells can no longer replicate, leading to sicknesses and signs of aging. And so when you're considering how to slow down the aging process, your mission should cover these 3 factors:
Health. Give your body everything it needs for optimal cell health
Protection. Protect your cells against all ongoing tension
Prevention. Find ways to prevent cellular damage
Now, before you start researching lotions and pills that make multiple promises on how to slow aging, let's consider natural and practical steps you can take to slow down aging instead.
How can you slow down the aging process naturally?
Simple daily habits can work wonders when it comes to slowing down the aging process. Researchers have identified five natural ways to lengthen your telomeres which, if you remember, is how to delay aging:
Food and supplements
We've turned these 5 factors into an action plan to make your anti-aging mission even easier.
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How to slow down the aging process
1. Exercise for 20 minutes a day
Regular exercise improves telomere length, reduces illnesses and extends your lifespan, reports a study published in the Frontiers in Physiology journal.
Example endurance exercises include:
Swimming and aquatic exercise (especially helpful if you have joint pain that makes other forms of exercise difficult)
Your action plan: Aim for 20 minutes of cardio a day (walking your dog, or doing yardwork, also counts!).
2. Exercise your brain, too (this builds neuroplasticity)
Cognitive decline is one of the big reasons why so many of us want to know how to stop aging. But aging-related changes in your brain, such as hazy thinking or trouble remembering details, have nothing to do with the actual age of your brain’s neurons.
In fact, researchers have found that your brain can continue to adapt, learn, and strengthen its neural connections, even when you’re older! This process of constant growth and adaptation is known as neuroplasticity.
Many of the aging-related brain health problems we see in older adults are due to a lack of neuroplasticity. The good news is that you can improve neuroplasticity through mental training exercises, which may actually thicken your brain structure and help to “strengthen” your brain!
Your action plan: Exercise your brain once a day to build neuroplasticity and guard against aging-related brain health issues. Examples of popular mental training routines include:
Playing video games, which engages everything from your reaction time to your problem-solving skills
Learning a complex new skill (learning a new language is especially effective for building neuroplasticity)
Drawing, painting, and other forms of creating art
3. Get more sleep
Boosts cognitive function and memory
Reduces your risks of numerous forms of illnesses
Reduces your risk factors for age-related cognitive illnesses
Improves your overall longevity
Supports a stronger immune system
Researchers now believe that healthy sleep habits may also be linked to improved aging on the cellular level. Older adults who get enough sleep — ideally seven to eight hours a night — have longer telomeres.
Your action plan: Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If you're having trouble catching those proverbial Zs, try:
Avoiding caffeine and strenuous exercise in the afternoon and evening.
Keeping your room dark and set the thermostat to a cooler temperature.
Reserving your bed for only sleep and sex.
Keeping electronic screens (e.g., televisions, smartphones, tablets, etc.) out of the bedroom.
Practising relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation.
Soaking in an Epsom salt bath (Epsom salts, also known as magnesium sulfate, may promote relaxation and sleep due to magnesium’s relaxing properties).
The R.E.S.T technique is also great for improving your sleep.
4. Invest in your community
As The Beatles said, we all get by with a little help from our friends.
Our social relationships have a direct impact on our health, with researchers finding that someone who feels well-connected to his or her friends, family, and community may experience:
Lower illness risks.
Improved mental health
A stronger immune system.
New research shows that this may all be due to the way that healthy attachment reduces nerves and tension, and thereby protects your telomeres.
Your action plan: Commit to supporting and investing in healthy social connections. This may include:
Reaching out to those in your faith community, those who share similar interests, or those in a similar life stage (e.g. a club for new parents, a support group for older singles, etc.).
Being intentional about staying in touch with friends and loved ones, even if it's at a distance during this global pandemic (e.g. a phone call, a handwritten letter, etc.).
Setting boundaries with toxic people or those who introduce nerves and tension into your life.
5. Rethink your food and supplements
While all of the above strategies effectively slow the aging process and protect your long-term health at a cellular level, you can't outrun a bad diet. The energy and nutrients you provide your cells feeds (pun intended) your health.
According to the peer-reviewed journal Nutrients, specific foods that may improve telomere length include:
Legumes, such as beans, lentils and peas
Foods that may shorten your telomere length and expedite cellular damage and aging are unfortunately very prevalent in the Western diet and include:
Your action plan: Focus on whole foods. Ideally, you should emphasise a plant-based diet as much as possible. And when it comes to aging-related ingredients like alcohol and sugar, consider ways to either eliminate them or at least cut back on your intake.
Tackle aging with the supplements
If you want to slow the aging process at a cellular level, start focusing on your nutrition—specifically by making sure you're getting the right nutrients in your diet. With vitamins, you can experience benefits such as:
Enhanced mental clarity
Specific vitamins have been found to support telomere length and cellular health, for example: