Have you ever wished you could age in reverse, Benjamin Button style? While science hasn’t figured that one out quite yet, there are a few things you can do to prevent premature aging, and even add years to your life. The simple strategies below can help you turn back the clock — no effort required!
Say hello to a friend.
Just a few small kindnesses every day — waving to a neighbor, thanking the postman, or calling a friend to say hello — can reduce your risk of premature aging by 60 percent, plus add up to five years to your life. Georgetown University researchers say the feel-good effect that comes from interacting positively with others spurs the release of at least 200 neuropeptides — compounds that help your brain, heart, liver, and immune system function at their peak.
Neurologist Joseph Maroon, M.D., adds that feeling connected with others is so calming, it can lower blood pressure by as much as 12 points.
Read a magazine before bed.
As bedtime nears, turn off electronics and relax with a magazine or a book for 15 minutes, and you could add three-and-a-half healthy years to your life. Cornell University scientists reveal you’re twice as likely to drift off quickly and get a restful seven-and-a-half to eight hours of sleep if you read before climbing into bed. And since your body’s anti-aging genes are most active when you’re snoozing, that extra shuteye can cut the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes by 45 percent, plus help you bounce back from illness and injury 50 percent faster.
Sip some tea.
Drinking 36 ounces of iced green or hibiscus tea daily could cut your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and dementia by 50 percent, adding four years to your life, say Cleveland Clinic researchers. Both teas brim with compounds (flavonoids) that prevent plaque buildup in heart and brain arteries, plus strengthen and heal the insulin-producing beta cells in your pancreas. Bonus: Flavonoids cut the risk of premature wrinkling by 58 percent.
Add vitamin D and turmeric to your diet.
Taking just 2,000 IU of vitamin D-3 and 500 mg. of turmeric daily could add nine wonderful years to your life, Canadian researchers say. That’s because vitamin D-3 activates more than 2,000 health-promoting genes in your body, while turmeric’s active ingredient (curcumin) cuts the production of damaging, body-aging inflammation by as much as 71 percent, plus encourages the repair and replacement of aging nerves, tendons, muscle and bone tissue!
Have a slice of pie.
Yum! Raspberries, blackberries and other sweet-tart berry treats and are loaded with compounds (anthocyanins) that neutralize up to 75 percent of the aging toxins that enter your body. In fact, UCLA researchers say eating one cup of berries daily — fresh or frozen, raw or cooked — can cut your risk of cancer, memory loss, premature wrinkling, and cataracts by as much as 40 percent, and add three years to your life!
Move to the beat.
Carrying bags in from the car, putting away laundry … that’s 17 minutes of daily exercise you’re already getting, and sneaking in 13 more minutes (by dancing to your favorite tunes or vacuuming the living room) can add 10 years to your life, plus cut the risk of premature aging by 30 percent, British scientists report. Muscle movement triggers your brain’s release of a hormone (HGH) that rejuvenates skin, lungs, muscles, bones, and other tissues.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.