Healthy Aging The Secrets Are Simpler than You Think

Throughout time, we’ve been searching for the magic formula—the mythical Fountain of Youth—that will delay aging. But between wrinkle-filling injections like Botox and Restylane, extensive plastic surgery options and untold creams, pills and oils promising to reverse the hands of time, never has the search been so intense. Alarmed by the recent explosion in the anti-aging market, 51 scientists who study aging have issued a position statement in Scientific American and other publications bearing this warning: “No currently marketed intervention—none—has yet been proved to slow, stop or reverse human aging, and some can be downright dangerous.”

But while no magical elixir exists, healthy aging remedies do. The following ideas are aimed at helping you grow older more gracefully—and live more lightly.

Eat Well

Herein lies the only scientifically proven longevity-promoting remedy in animals: caloric restriction. Studies on rats and other lab animals have had amazing effects: The animals age at a slower rate, live about 30% longer and are more resilient to disease. Their fur even grays less quickly.

At three research centers, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health is determining whether people can receive these same benefits from caloric restriction. The CALERIE Study (Comprehensive Assessment of Long-term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy) could prove that we can live longer, age slower and be more resilient to disease by sustained caloric restriction, while still eating sufficient amounts of nutrient-rich foods.

Childhood and adult-onset obesity is a global epidemic, says S. Jay Olshansky, professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. And he points the finger at the prominence of processed foods like chips, snack bars and ready-made meals in the diets of most Americans. Eating whole foods from your own organic garden is the greenest way to get back on track. What’s more, pulling weeds can be great therapy, which flows into the next healthy aging idea—exercise. Though exercise will not stop the process of aging, according to Olshansky it can reduce the manifestations of aging, like heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

Other promising anti-aging research is being done on resveratrol, found in the skin of grapes—so promising that two researchers who’ve developed a highly concentrated form recently sold their start-up company for three-quarters of a billion dollars.

Breathe Well

How many times have we sat hunched over a task, stressed out, taking short breaths? To get air to where it needs to go, and enjoy the air you take in, laugh! Humor promotes quicker healing and better health, dissipates anxiety and lends perspective, according to Peter Sheras, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. Rejuvenate by standing or sitting up straight. (For a primer on good posture, see the slideshow at the Mayo Clinic’s website.) Proper posture helps you breathe better, prevents back and neck pain and makes you look younger.

The secret for those with more sedentary jobs is to find ways to get moving. One of the easiest is to turn cleaning, gardening and any work into an excercising opportunity. Chores you’ve previously found bothersome can be recycled into a workout. One of the things many centenarians (those who live to be 100 or more) have in common is that they keep active and enjoy working. When you adjust your attitude, and decide to see your work as beneficial, and therapeutic, you”ll alleviate stress in the process.

Finally, since our largest organ, skin, is so often the visible reflection of our age, keeping it in good shape will help us look younger. Because what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bodies, look for organic ingredients in cosmetics. Companies like Aveda and Aubrey Organics and online boutique Futurenatural offer products with organic ingredients from fair trade sources. Aveda’s mineral- and plant-based makeup line includes Inner Light Dual Foundation ($21.50), which contains SPF for keeping harmful UV rays (and subsequent wrinkles) at bay, and comes in a reusable compact to en-courage reuse, too. Futurenatural sells lip glosses ($24) and foundations ($45) from organic maker Nvey Eco, while Aubrey Organics sells Silken Earth powders ($23.95) that look like mineral makeup, but are actually made from silk powder, tapioca and rice starches.