Out of roughly 100,000 genes in your body, there are 500 that can slow the aging of groups of cells in your body. The happy news? It’s easy to switch on these gene clusters so you stay sharp, nimble, and youthful
To ward off illness, tap your toes.
When your muscles are in motion, they activate anti-aging genes that keep immune cells energized so they can pounce on invading viruses or bacteria. And moving for 30 minutes daily lessens the risk of illness by up to 57 percent, Australian scientists say. Even small movements, like wiggling your toes or pacing while on the phone, count toward that total!
To stay limber, sweeten meals.
Yum! Fresh cherries and berries are showing up in supermarkets, and enjoying a cup of your favorite with each meal cuts your risk of feeling stiff by 50 percent. What’s more, it quashes muscle and joint pain in 10 days if you’re sore right now. That’s the word from Yale researchers, who say the carotenoids that give these gems their rich hues activate healing, anti-aging genes inside muscle and joint cells.
To stay sharp, add a pinch of this.
You can stay focused and keep your memory razor-sharp—cutting the odds of dementia by up to 70 percent — by adding a quarter teaspoon of turmeric and a pinch of pepper to your daily diet, say University of Pennsylvania scientists. Turmeric’s curcumin turns on genes that block brain-aging inflammation, explains Robin Miller, MD, while pepper boosts absorption. Add to dressings or marinades.
To burn fat, up your omegas.
You can prevent the creeping weight gain that plagues many of us after age 45, plus slim down more than three times faster on any diet, by taking 3,000 milligrams of fish oil daily, British scientists say. Mark Hyman, MD, says the oil’s omega-3s stimulate genes that burn stored fats for fuel. Note: Check with a doctor before supplementing.
To add a few years, try a prayer.
Just taking a few minutes each day to say prayers for or send well-wishes to friends and loved ones can add 12 healthy years to your life, University of Kentucky researchers report. Positive, caring thoughts activate a gene (the OXTR gene) that slows aging of tissues and organs, plus strengthens your immune system’s ability to quickly trounce cancer cells.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.