The secret to a happy long life lies in the gut, says Steven Gundry, M.D., author of The Longevity Paradox ($14.49, Amazon), where beneficial bacteria turn back the clock. Here are three ways to boost gut health and fight aging.
Sip a green smoothie
“Leafy greens satisfy our beneficial gut bacteria — and they pay us back by keeping us young,” Dr. Gundry notes. Indeed, research conducted at Tufts University determined that people who regularly enjoyed leafy greens like spinach, kale, collards and romaine had brains that were 11 years younger than those who skimped. Dr. Gundry advises sipping a simple smoothie daily: In a blender, mix 1 cup of romaine lettuce, ½ cup of spinach, ½ cup of mixed berries, half of an avocado, the juice of one lemon, 1 cup of water and ¼ cup of ice cubes (adding stevia to taste).
Take five minutes to reflect
High levels of stress allow harmful bacteria to take over your gut’s environment, aka the microbiome. “Stress weakens the walls of the gut, triggering inflammation that’s so harmful to health and longevity that researchers have named it ‘inflammaging,’” Dr. Gundry explains. To help combat these stressors, Dr. Gundry advises taking five minutes each day to reflect on blessings and challenges. “This practice helps hone the ability to accept life’s negatives with humor and humility—just don’t forget to be grateful for the past challenges you’ve faced as well. At the end of the day, they make you stronger.” Indeed, a University of California study showed that daily gratitude practices lowered stress hormone levels by 23 percent.
Enjoy a relaxing soak
Immersing your body in hot water stimulates the microbiome, causing the release of anti-aging compounds, Dr. Gundry asserts. “These compounds tell old, worn-out cells to self-destruct so fresh, healthy cells can take their place.” He advises a 20-minute bath once a week. Bonus: Oregon University research reveals hot baths increase the body’s production of nitric oxide, a substance that keeps blood vessels flexible and young.