Think you're aging too fast? Forget about going under the knife. There's a much easier and non-invasive way to slow down the aging process, and it has nothing to do with plastic surgery.
"Science is just starting to explain why we age and it has to do with our immune system," said Dr. Mark Liponis, medical director at Canyon Ranch Health Resorts, and author of, Ultra-Longevity: The Seven-Step Program for a Younger, Healthier You.
"An overactive immune system — the system that's protecting us against infection — actually turns on us and starts aging us later in life," he added.
So how do you prevent this from happening?
"We want to get it (our immune system) under control and there are seven ways to do that." Liponis said.
"This isn't just about smoking and asthma," Liponis told FOXNews.com. "Anything that affects your breathing has an adverse affect on health and longevity."
Breathing is the one automatic function in your body that you have control over.
"The thing that's interesting when you control your breathing is that it affects the other automatic functions in your body such as your blood pressure, your heart rate, circulation, body temperature and level of pain, he added.
The first step to proper breathing is to make sure you relax your belly muscles. Once you have that down, it's really important to give yourself enough time to exhale properly. For example, it should take about twice as long to get the air out of your lungs as it does to get the air in.
"Research shows what is most important is not eating meals that are too big," Liponis said. "People need to be grazing — not binging."
— Listen to your hunger, but realize you need to eat smaller portions.
— Eat a small meal every two to three hours.
— If you go out to dinner, eat half of the meal there and take the rest home to snack on later.
— Incorporate more fish into your diet. It's been shown eating fish at least twice a week cuts the risk of a heart attack in half, stroke and sudden death. Choose smaller fish such as wild or organic salmon, fresh sardines, trout or mackerel. The reason why it's so important to eat fish is because it's rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may protect against heart disease and improve circulation.
— Don't forget about dietary fiber. Liponis recommends about 25 grams per day. In order to accomplish that, eat whole grains such whole wheat, whole oats, brown rice, quinoa and millet. Other foods rich in dietary fiber include beans, nuts, seeds, as well as fruits and veggies.
"The reason why fiber is so important," Liponis said, "it encourages the growth of friendly and healthy bacteria inside our digestive tract."
"A lot of people think I'll sleep when I'm dead," Liponis said. "If that's your philosophy, then death will come to you a lot quicker."
While it's been engrained in our heads that eight hours of sleep is the best thing for you, Liponis said that's not entirely true. He said sleep is about quality not quantity.
You know you're NOT getting quality sleep if...
— You need an alarm clock to wake you up
— If you need a nap during the day
— If you fall asleep or doze off reading a book or watching a movie
You know when you're getting quality sleep when ...
— You wake up promptly without an alarm clock
— You feel rested
— You read through a book and you don't doze off
— You're not tempted to sleep in on the weekend to make up for lost time
"Sleep is a learned behavior," Lipoq pnis said. "It's like when you bring a baby home. It takes several months before they know how to sleep."
If you need help winding down before you go to bed, Liponis said meditation, yoga and breathing exercises are all good options. Also, keep your sleeping environment dark and quiet. If you work an overnight shift or live on a noisy street, try some ear plugs and an eye shade.
Remember, listen to your body and go to bed when you're body is telling you to go to sleep.
"Love is so important, because human beings are social animals," Liponis said. "We require social contact."
Having love in your life isn't just about the romantic kind. It's about deep emotional connections with another person, whether it's a friend or your child.
"You're less likely to be anxious if you feel connected," Liponis said. You’re less likely to feel sad. Cultivating love in your life is a solution for stressful situations."
When it comes to love, Liponis said it's important to express how you feel. Tell someone you love them. Also, keep a journal about loving relationships. If you're feeling down, you could open the book and feel better about things. It's like your very own 'book of love.'
"Rhythmic movement is healthier and more beneficial than random movement and it has something to do with the beat, Liponis said.” Our bodies run on their own rhythms ... our heart beating, our breathing and dancing synchronizes these rhythms."
To achieve this you don't have to run out and sign up for dance classes. Incorporating dance into your life can be as easy as putting on music while you exercise or blasting the stereo and boogying by yourself in the living room.
Try to do this at least twice a week.
"People who live in a stressful noisy environment don't do as well," Liponis said.
His solution — try to create a soothing environment around you.
This could be anything from surrounding yourself with beautiful plants, hanging your favorite art work, to trading food massages with a friend.
"All things that are soothing help mitigate stress," said. "It sounds simple — but people don't do it enough."
"Take a multivitamin everyday," Liponis said. "By doing this, it makes up for the fact that no one can eat a perfect diet."
He recommends taking ...
— Vitamin D, also known as "the sunshine vitamin," which is essential for healthy bones. New research also suggests vitamin D plays an important role in preventing breast and prostate cancer. Since most people aren't outside enough, we're not getting enough in our diet, noted Liponis.
So, how much should you take?
Well, the amount actually depends on where you live. If you're out golfing everyday in Florida, you will need a lot less Vitamin D than if you live in New England. As a rule, most people should get between 1000 and 1500 IU of vitamin D3 daily.
— Resveratrol, which is found in grapes, grape juice and red wine, is also very important. Recent research has indicated that resveratrol has promising heart-healthy benefits.
— Fish oil. "I prescribe it often, Liponis said. Taking one capsule once a day is a great supplement."