You know those little plastic caps on the ends of shoelaces? Well, every gene in your body is topped with a similar protective cap — called a telomere — and just keeping those caps in great condition cuts the risk of premature aging 50 percent and adds up to nine healthy years to your life. Here’s how to protect them.
Take a multivitamin and extra D.
No need to down tons of supplements every day to make a big dent in the aging process. Pairing a multivitamin with 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily repairs damage to telomeres five percent faster, which is enough to lengthen your life nine years according to reports in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Eat your green veggies.
Eating one cup of broccoli, kale or another green vegetable daily is so effective at lengthening and strengthening your telomeres, it can add six years to your life, UCLA researchers say. These veggies are rich in plant compounds (flavonoids) that neutralize any toxins in your cells that might try to chip away at the health of your telomeres.
Even better: Eat beets! In addition to flavonoids, they’re packed with betacyanins and betaxanthins, hard-to-find pigments that help lower the risk of cancer at any age.
You don’t have to pound the pavement to slow aging. British studies show adding 25 minutes of moderate activity — such as housework, walks in the park, even window shopping — to your daily routine can have you looking nine years younger than your couch potato counterparts. And it increases
your odds of a long, healthy life 68 percent.
Being active ups your production of telomerase, the enzyme that helps heal damaged telomeres, says Dave Woynarowski, M.D., coauthor of The Immortality Edge ($14.71, Amazon).
Eating two cups of any nuts weekly helps keep your brain’s telomeres in top-notch condition, preventing the foggy thinking and memory lapses so often blamed on old age. The omega-3 fats and essential minerals in nuts cut damaging inflammation inside brain cells and blood vessels, explain Australian researchers. Not a nut fan? Eating 12 ounces of seafood weekly
also does the trick.
Put B-vitamins in your breakfast.
Eating one cup of oatmeal, shredded wheat, or any other 100 percent whole-grain cereal daily can spur your telomeres to grow longer in as little as two weeks. What makes these foods so powerful? They’re packed with B vitamins, essential building blocks of telomeres, reports the Journal of Nutrition.
Take a time out.
Spending 30 guilt-free minutes every day really relaxing — say, swinging in a hammock, doing a jigsaw puzzle, or reading a book — can reduce your levels of the stress hormone cortisol 25 percent, say University of California, San Diego, researchers.
This is great news because cortisol eats away at telomeres, speeding cell aging, says Michael B. Fossel, M.D., author of The Telomerase Revolution ($12, Amazon).
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Reverse Aging.