Lengthening your life doesn’t have to require doing rocket science. In fact, there’s a relatively straightforward formula you can follow to increase your longevity and ultimately, “age-proof” your life — that is, live longer while reducing age-related health care costs.
Pick foods wisely
The vital rule of nutrition is this: The best foods you can eat have the fewest ingredients. We don’t want to make it complicated, and we don’t want to pepper you with all kinds of rules, programs, and constructs for how to eat. So the simplest way to think about it is that you should know what the good foods are, and know what to avoid. And if you eat the good foods 90 percent of the time, you’ve tipped the scale — quite literally — in your favor.
The goal here really isn’t to try to stick to any calorie count or set limit; it’s to eat a makeup of foods you love that love you back — good foods so you feel satisfied and have absolutely zero urge to go nose-deep into Nana’s clam sauce.
A simple trick to remember what to eat: LUV‑U Foods
- Lean protein, with an emphasis on plant-based protein (even non-lean seeds and nuts)
- Unsaturated fats (especially odd omegas like DHA)
- Omega‑3 and extra-virgin olive oil (omega‑9))
- Vegetables and fruits
- Unprocessed grains
And one to help you avoid what to eat: SSSSnake Oil Foods
- Saturated and trans fats
- Simple sugars
- Simple syrups
- Stripped carbs (that is, processed carbs stripped of their whole grains)
There’s an easy way to avoid SSSSnake oil foods, which nod to “health” foods that are really hoaxes, like phony snake oil. If any of the first five ingredients on any package is or contains the aforementioned ingredients, reject it. That list includes saturated fat, trans fat (partially hydrogenated vegetable oil), added sugar, non-whole-grain carbohydrate, or added syrup.
We also reject the food if one of the first four ingredients is salt, egg yolks, or any type of red meat. (That's because this food contains saturated fats, but is bad for you more because it changes the bacteria in your gut to produce inflammation.)
Take the ‘tape test’
In your mind, the most valuable thing in your closet may be your favorite black pumps or your worn college sweatshirt. But when it comes to your health, the most valuable thing you have is your tape measure. It’s decidedly simple and almost always scary, but the measurements you take can serve as great indicators of your current health status.
There’s only one formula you need to know: Your waist size should be less than half your height. So if your height is 64 inches, your waist should be no larger than 32 inches. Take the measurement level with your belly button (it’s OK to suck your stomach in). The reason waist size is so important? Abdominal fat. It’s the most dangerous kind of fat, because it secretes chemicals that cause inflammation, and because it’s so close to your vital organs. This proximity means that toxicity from fat is more likely to influence these organs’ functions and create all kinds of health dilemmas.
Pay attention to the number generated from this formula rather than your weight, as it considers size rather than an absolute number of pounds. You can do this test once a month, and because it takes some time to change body shape, we don’t recommend gauging it much more often.
Get moving to boost your energy
When it comes to creating energy balance, paying strong attention to outflow — burning energy through activity — helps you get and stay younger. These are the major principles that will help you (1) get into an exercise program you enjoy if you don’t have one already, (2) maintain that or another exercise program for life, and (3) enjoy all the benefits that come from having an effective activity plan.
The simplest form of activity we have — walking — is also the most effective. Even though it’s not a huge calorie-burner per minute, walking provides the base of activity throughout the day. Research shows that walking 10,000 steps a day helps give you about 50 percent of the maximum age-slowing effect that all physical activity can give you, improves your health, helps you manage your stress responses and your weight, and contributes greatly to an overall wellness program. For those just starting a program, walking is also the easiest to engage in — meaning it’s not a daunting task and it’s something you can build into your day. The first step is building to and staying with 10,000 steps a day. Do it.
Manage your stress levels
When you think of traditional stress relief methods, they probably fall into one of two categories — healthy or unhealthy (think: getting a massage versus binge-watching TV).
The best way to manage stress is simply being aware of your responses, gleaning which behaviors bother you, and coming up with an automated plan to manage your stress.
During stressful times, we tend to fall back on automatic habits, and the more stress you have, the less likely it is that a new cognitive strategy can be rolled out on the spot and work. For example, if you open an out-of-the-blue huge electric bill or look at a deficient bank account statement, you might respond by picking a fight with your spouse. But if you have awareness of the issues, you can develop an automated habit for dealing with them, such as taking deep breaths. The more you turn learned response into automated habits, the more successful you will be, and the less events will age you.
Adapted from the book AGEPROOF by Jean Chatsky and Michael F. Roizen, MD. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Life & Style. All rights reserved.
Michael F. Roizen, MD, a board-certified anesthesiologist and internist, serves as the chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic, and has been awarded an Emmy, an Elle, and the Paul G. Rogers’s Best Medical Communicator award from the National Library of Medicine. He became famous for changing the way Americans think about aging by developing the “RealAge” concept and website (over 66 million people have taken the RealAge Test) and is the co-author of seven New York Times bestsellers (four #1s), including You: The Owner’s Manual. For more go to https://www.ageproof.life/