Science-Tested Ways to Keep Your Body Younger for Longer
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You likely know the basics of extending your lifespan—move more, don’t smoke, eat well, shore up your personal relationships, watch your blood pressure, and drink just the right amount of alcohol. (See exactly how much these moves really extend your life here).
But scientists continue to work hard to figure out exactly what it is that allows some people to stave off the diseases of aging and live longer and healthier than their peers. Here’s what they’re finding out:
Fasting is believed to clear out cellular debris and renew your body’s ability to manage insulin and fulfill other functions. This can reduce your risk of age-related diseases, according to research by Valter Longo, Ph.D., at USC. His work has involved fasts of three days or more, using a fasting-mimicking diet. Fasts of just 12 hours may also extend life span, he says, but likely don’t bring all the benefits longer fasts do.
Find your purpose
You’ve heard it before, but a study in JAMA Network Open confirmed that life purpose affects longevity. A purpose doesn’t have to be grand, like solving world hunger; it simply needs to bring you energy and fulfillment.
Check your inflammation
Inflammation throughout your body ages you, and scientists at Stanford University School of Medicine found a way to capture its signals and give you your “inflammatory age.” This iAge test predicts your risk of age-related diseases. Until it’s available, you can check inflammation with an hs-CRP test and aim to lower it with a Mediterranean-style diet.
Talk about race with your doc
Systemic racism is part of the reason non-white people often don’t get appropriate pain care, screening advice, or treatment and therefore live shorter lives. Until we make more progress to deliver some much-needed change to our medical systems, “it’s important to ask your doctor, ‘How does my self-identified race affect my longevity?’ ” says Daniele Ölveczky, M.D., of the Center for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Asking helps your doc take your life experience into greater consideration.
Actively manage stress
Research indicates heavy stress can shorten the life expectancy of a 30-year-old man by 2.8 years. Beyond stress reducers like breathing and working out, Lucas Krump, cofounder of Evryman, suggests dropping the mask—the work mask, the dad mask—that is holding something back. “Be the full version of yourself and shit gets way easier,” he says.
Pay attention to changes
Colorectal-cancer rates are rising among people under 50. (Find out more about young men and colon cancer here.) Official recommendations say you should start screening at age 45, or earlier if you have a family history. At any age, see a doc if you have changes in bowel habits, blood in your stool, abdominal pain, or unexplained weight loss.
This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Men’s Health.
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