Think about a time where a person’s age has genuinely surprised you. This can go both ways: the 50-year old who looks more like 35, or the 60-year old who you would have sworn was at least 80. What makes the difference?
There’s a genetic influence, of course, and we can’t do anything about our genetic make-up, but we can influence the expression of our genes.
Sitting around every weekend eating chips and drinking beer is going to have a different effect than being active and eating healthy foods. Gene expression is influenced by lifestyle choices and environmental factors, so making the best choices will give the best results.
So, what lifestyle choices can you make?
- Ditch sugar. Sugar creates AGEs (advanced glycation end-products) which, not surprisingly, accelerate ageing. AGEs damage adjacent proteins, like collagen and elastic, which ages your tissues.
- Exercise, especially high intensity intervals and resistance exercise. Both these forms of exercise boost mitochondrial function and insulin sensitivity, as well as maintaining muscle strength.
- Avoid excess alcohol, and completely avoid smoking.
- Eat fresh foods – and avoid processed foods as much as possible.
- Sleep well and long enough. Most people need 7-8 hours per night, so establishing a bed-time ritual and hitting the sack early enough is essential to making this happen.
Getting older is going to happen, but we can make choices that allow it to happen gracefully and healthily.