What do heart disease, prostate cancer, dementia, weight gain, sagging muscles and erectile dysfunction have in common?
The obvious answer is that none of them are found at the top of your “must-have” list, but the less obvious answer is that they share one major risk factor in common: aging.
Aging is actually the number one risk factor for a lot of things you don’t want to have. And while we can’t prevent aging, we can do a lot to insure that we age optimally. That means reducing the effects of what I call “the Four Horsemen of Aging”, four processes which systemically break down our bodies, age us from within, damage our organs and tissues (including our skin) and contribute to every degenerative disease known to humankind.
These “Four Horsemen” are inflammation, oxidation, stress and sugar.
A full explanation of how these four processes contribute to all the diseases of aging would take a book. (In fact, I wrote one: It’s called The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer.) Briefly, oxidation is damage from free radicals that can impact your sex life, the appearance of your skin and the condition of your brain. Inflammation is the starting point for heart disease and is a big factor in Alzheimer’s, dementia, obesity, diabetes and cancer. Sugar sends your “fat-storing” hormone (insulin) into overdrive and contributes to aging and disease in multiple ways. And stress causes your body to release hormones (like cortisol) which, among other nasty things, can shrink the hippocampus, an important area of the brain involved in memory and thinking.
Luckily there are a number of things we can do to reduce the damage done by all four.
- Exercise every day. It makes you look better at the beach, prevents muscle “decay” (a condition called sarcopaenia), and improves mood. Even 30-45 minutes a day of brisk walking has been shown to grow new brain cells as well as to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and depression,
- Take these seven supplements:
- Omega-3’s (anti-inflammatory, benefit the heart and brain)
- Magnesium (helps relax blood vessel walls)
- Vitamin D (benefits everything you can think of)
- Resveratrol (turns on longevity genes)
- Curcumin (anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer)
- Probiotics (supports the microbiome, and increases immunity)
- Coq10 (fuel for the heart)
- Eat these four foods: Nuts, beans, dark chocolate and berries. Put them on heavy rotation in your diet. These four foods will provide a particularly impressive range of benefits.
- Drink these three drinks: Water, green tea and pomegranate juice. (One study showed that those drinking 5 or more cups of green tea a day had a a significantly lower risk of death from all causes, particularly cardiovascular disease and stroke.) Green tea is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-cancer and pro-weight loss! And researchers in Israel called pomegranate juice a “natural Viagra”
- Stress: Stress contributes to every disease, directly or indirectly. It shrinks the brain and increases the waistline. Deal with it. Somehow. Meditation is the best, but even a few minutes of relaxed deep breathing several times a day will help.
- Take this advice seriously. Do all six of the steps.
If you do, chances are you’ll live longer (and better) than if you don’t.