Three Secrets to Aging Gracefully

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Filed Under: General Health
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Three Secrets to Aging Gracefully

Aging is recognized as an inevitable part of life, so many of us try to resign ourselves to accepting it. The truth is, although growing older is inevitable, many of the effects of aging are preventable. Here are three things you can do to help ensure you age gracefully.

  1. Protect your telomeres. Chromosomes are tightly coiled, rod-like structures made up of proteins and one double-helix–shaped molecule of DNA encoded with your genome: the blueprints for your growth, development, and physiological function. And at the tips of every chromosome are protective “caps” called telomeres.

    Telomeres and telomerase, the enzyme that builds them, are intimately involved in aging, degeneration, and death. Telomeres naturally get shorter as we age, but not at the same rate in all individuals.

    Some of these differences can be chalked up to genetics, but other factors accelerate telomere shortening. Free radical damage and chronic inflammation—long known to be associated with aging at the cellular level—speed it up, as do smoking, heavy drinking, and obesity. Conversely, adopting a healthy lifestyle can retard telomere degradation. A low-fat, vegetable-rich diet, endurance exercise, stress reduction, fish oil, multivitamins, and vitamins A, B12, C, D, and E are all independently associated with telomere integrity.
     
  2. Take curcumin. As I mentioned earlier, free radical damage (or oxidative stress) and chronic inflammation are two primary factors that contribute to aging. Curcumin, which comes from turmeric (Curcuma longa), boasts anti-inflammatory properties and is also a potent antioxidant. This makes it a powerful weapon against many age-related conditions.

    For example, curcumin has been shown to not only reduce markers of inflammation in the brain but to actually shrink beta-amyloid plaques, the destructive lesions that riddle the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
     
  3. Take resveratrol and pterostilbene. Gene expression, or activity, changes dramatically throughout life. The best-studied gene related to aging is SIRT1, and its effects are profound. SIRT1 encodes enzymes and proteins that enhance cell survival by repairing DNA, reducing inflammation, and guarding against oxidative stress. It also recharges the mitochondria, the cellular powerhouses that slow down as we age.

    The easiest way to ramp up SIRT1 activity is to take supplements containing resveratrol and pterostilbene. Most people are aware of the anti-aging benefits of resveratrol, also known as the “red wine pill.” But scientists recently discovered a compound called pterostilbene (pronounced “tare-O-still-bean”) that has been shown in preliminary studies to work synergistically with resveratrol to give you significant anti-aging protection. The suggested daily dose of resveratrol is 100 mg and pterostilbene 50 mg. (Look for supplements that contain standardized extracts such as ResVinol-25 and pTeroPure.)

Now it’s your turn: Do you have any anti-aging secrets you’d like to share?

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