It's hard to tell how the aging process will affect you until it hits. Then, one morning, your knees start to ache as you get out of bed, your brow suddenly has bigger lines than Whole Foods on a Sunday afternoon, and that cup of coffee you just made seems to have disappeared somewhere into the ether—along with your car keys.
You wish you could turn back the clock—now.
While we may be years (or, more likely, an eternity) away from scientists discovering how to literally stop time in its tracks, practicing healthier habits in your personal life can make a major difference in how you age. From combatting skin damage to increasing your life expectancy, our anti-aging secrets for a younger you will have your friends dying to know just how you've stopped the clock. And when you're ready to take your healthy living plan to the next level, add these 40 Best-Ever Fat-Burning Foods to your menu.
Losing weight is always at the top of our list of yearly resolutions, but tackling that goal sooner rather than later may just give you more years to look forward to. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals a distinct link between obesity and the risk for heart disease, embolisms, diabetes, and certain types of cancer, and toting around extra pounds can sap your energy in an instant. Fortunately, research suggests that losing just 10 percent of your total body weight can make a huge difference in both your life expectancy and your overall health.
Snack on a Banana
Here's one fountain of youth tip that's as easy as it is a-peeling: snack on a banana. Bananas are a great source of potassium, which can help keep your heart healthy and reduce muscle cramps, making it easier to hit the gym day after day. Even better, researchers at Sweden's Lund University have linked the resistant starch found in foods like bananas to healthier gut bacteria, which, in turn, can decrease your risk for developing Alzheimer's.
Slather on the SPF
A little vitamin D can boost your metabolism and improve your mood, but there's no denying that you can get too much of a good thing when it comes to the sun. In addition to increasing your risk of skin cancer, sun damage can cause dark spots and wrinkles that can make you look years older than you actually are. Practice safe sun by making sunscreen part of your daily routine and you can stop the aging process in its tracks.
Even if you're not exactly Dancing With the Stars material, busting a move is still worth your while, especially when it comes to aging. Research published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience reveals that senior citizens who took dance lessons three times a week had increased density in the parts of their brain associated with memory and information processing than those who were sedentary or took walks for exercise.
Make Green Veggies Part of Every Meal
While our food pyramid tells us that grains should be the biggest component of our meals, it's greens that can help us stay healthy for longer. Research published in Alzheimer's&Dementia reveals that increased intake of leafy greens is significantly linked to lower rates of Alzheimer's disease and other measures of brain aging. All those antioxidants you'll be adding to your meal with every cup of kale or spinach salad can also do wonders for the health and radiance of your skin. In addition to all those healthy greens, make every meal healthier by adding the 40 Things Healthy Cooks Always Have in Their Kitchen to your next shopping list.
Start Your Day With Scrambled Eggs
Swapping out those carb-heavy breakfasts in favor of some eggs is an eggcellent way to fight back against aging. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have found that lutein and zeaxanthin, a combo found in egg yolks, can fend off macular degeneration, keeping your eyes clear and healthy as you age. The results of a study published in the International Journal of Obesity also reveals that study participants who ate eggs in the AM lost significantly more weight than those who had bagels for breakfast.
Eat Some Grapes
Grabbing some red grapes instead of your usual sweet snack could have you looking and feeling younger in no time. Red grapes are a great source of resveratrol, which can help you fend off belly fat, and which a study conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine has linked to improved circulation in the eyes, keeping your vision sharp as you get older.
Play Up the Positives in Life
Practicing a little positive thinking can go a long way toward turning back the clock.
Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reveals that elderly nuns who had positive things to say about their lives significantly decreased their risk of death, and looking on the bright side about things can make you seem more youthful, too.
Load Up on Vitamin C
Maximizing your vitamin C intake with some fresh citrus fruit will have all of your friends wondering just what you've done to shave years off your appearance. A study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science reveals that vitamin C can increase your body's collagen production and increase the firmness of your skin, keeping both cellulite and sagging at bay. Your looks aren't the only thing that will benefit from adding some citrus to your menu, however; researchers in Bordeaux discovered a link between citrus flavonoid consumption and reduction of cognitive decline and studies have even linked high vitamin C levels to reduced stress and better sleep, all of which can make you seem more youthful. Infuse your diet with tons of healthy vitamin C with the 56 Smoothies for Weight Loss!
Put on a Happy Face
Smiling does more than make you look approachable —it makes you look younger, too. Researchers at Berlin's Max Planck Institute found photo subjects who looked happy were viewed as more youthful than their solemn counterparts. Women got the most benefit from smiling —smiling women were thought to be as much as three years younger than their actual age.
Seek Some Green Space
Want to stop the clock on the aging process? Go green. Research published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that women who lived close to nature reduced their overall mortality risk by as much as 12 percent. Women who lived in places with a significant amount of plant life were healthier, too; those with an abundance of greenery in around their home were 34 percent less likely to die of a respiratory health issue.
Add Apricots to Your Menu
A quick snack could be all it takes to turn back the clock. Eating a few dried apricots instead of a preservative-rich convenience food may help you maintain your youthful energy. Apricots are a great source of beta-carotene, which researchers at German's Ulm University have linked to lower rates of Alzheimer's and other forms of cognitive decline. Apricots are also home to the magic combination of vitamins A, C, and E, which has been shown to stave off age-related eye health issues, too. Just make sure your apricots don't have added sugar, which can age your skin, and aren't home to sulfite preservatives, a common source of allergic reactions.
Scale Back Your Caloric Intake
Dieting may not always be fun, but it could do wonders for your health and longevity. Not only can losing weight reduce your risk of a wide range of chronic diseases, researchers at UCLA found that mice who reduced their caloric load by 65 percent lived between 35 and 65 percent longer than those with minimal caloric restriction. They also managed to decrease their risk of tumor development, too. If your weight loss efforts aren't working, the 20 Weird Reasons Why You're Gaining Weight Fast could be to blame.
Spend Some Time on Social Media
Facebook stalking your exes isn't good for any of us, but spending a little time connecting with your friends, even if it's done digitally, can help keep you young. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego found that Facebook users were 12 percent less likely to die than those who abstained from social media, so go ahead and throw some smiley face emojis on your friend's engagement news or make time to follow some brands you like.
Make Some Butternut Squash Soup
Looking for some good comfort food? Instead of turning to fried or sugary foods that can speed up your rate of aging, try whipping up a batch of butternut squash soup instead. Butternut squash is a great source of beta-carotene, which a study published in Dermato Endocrinology has found to slow down the rate of visible skin aging.
Snack on Some Blueberries
Tossing some blueberries onto your oatmeal or into your favorite smoothie can help you maintain your youthful glow, no matter what your age. Research published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences reveals that anthocyanins, the antioxidant pigments that give fruit like blueberries their distinctive hue, significantly reduce the risk of dementia in the aging brain.
Play a Board Game
A little gaming goes a long way when it comes to keeping you young. Researchers at the Université Bordeaux and the Institute for European Expertise in Physiology reveals that adult study subjects who regularly played board games were 15 percent less likely to develop dementia and were significantly less depressed than those who didn't play at all.
Eat Dark Chocolate
The secret to slowing down the aging process? A little dark chocolate. The caffeine in dark chocolate can help energize you, research suggests that dark chocolate can increase your brain's serotonin levels, and researchers at the Witten/Herdecke Institute for Experimental Dermatology have even linked cocoa flavonols to reduced sun damage risk, keeping that complexion as youthful as when you were in your teens. Keep those indulgences healthy by making the 25 Best Carbs for Weight Loss part of your routine!
Sprinkle On Some Sesame Seeds
That sesame-crusted tuna you had for dinner last night might just be the be your best defense against an aging body. Sesame seeds are a good source of osteoporosis-fighting calcium, packing 88 milligrams of the stuff per tablespoon, lowering your risk of fractures and early death every time you add some to your meals. Think you'll get the same benefit from a glass of milk or slice of cheese? Think again. The results of a study published in the BMJ reveal that dairy can actually speed up bone demineralization and increase your osteoporosis risk.
Add Some Asparagus to Your Menu
Get your gut health into great shape and you might just turn back the clock in the process. 70 percent of your immune system is in your gut, making it essential to maintain the delicate balance of bacteria in your belly to fend off serious health issues; in fact, research conducted at Lund University in Sweden has linked healthy belly bacteria to a reduction in Alzheimer's risk. Fortunately, adding some asparagus to your menu may be all it takes to get your gut health in order. Asparagus is a good source of inulin, a prebiotic fiber that feeds the good bacteria in your gut, allowing them to bolster your immune system.
Take Your Coffee Black
Ditch the cream and sugar in your coffee and you'll kiss those indicators of the aging process goodbye. Researchers at Kyushu University have found a link between dairy consumption and an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease, and multiple studies have linked both sugar and artificial sweeteners to increased belly fat and weight gain, both of which can make you look years older than you actually are.
Eat Some Honey
While refined sugar is no friend to your health or appearance, adding a little honey to your menu could help make you look and feel younger. Honey is an effective antibacterial agent, which can help reduce your risk of infections that can speed up the aging process. Adding some to your skincare routine can help you reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while keeping your skin hydrated and firm, too.
Go High Protein
Trade in that carb-heavy meal plan for a high-protein diet and you might just find yourself feeling 10 years younger. Not only can high-protein diets help you shed unwanted weight while keeping you satisfied, they may even keep your eyes healthy as you age. Researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Salk Institute found that individuals who adhered to high-protein diets had lower rates of retinal damage when compared to carb consumers. Fill up and fight fat by adding the 29 Best-Ever Proteins for Weight Loss to your menu!
Stop Sitting All Day
Sitting all day is speeding up the aging process, so make like Ludacris and stand up. Spending long periods of time on your tuchus can increase your risk of obesity and can even increase your risk of premature death. Research published in the Annals of Internal Medicine reveals that even if you exercise, sitting all day can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 90 percent and can cause a sharp spike in your risk of sudden death, too. To keep your body young and healthy, even if you have a desk job, try using a standing desk, sitting on an exercise ball, or just making a point to get up and walk at least once an hour.
Enjoy Some Oolong
Sipping a glass of antioxidant-rich tea can help you de-stress and set back the clock on aging. Oolong tea in particular is a good source of polyphenols, which have been linked to reduced skin-aging free radical damage, keeping your skin glowing.
Up Your Fiber Intake
Filling up on fiber could be the first step toward a more youthful you. Enjoying fiber-rich meals can help promote the growth of healthy intestinal bacteria, boosting your immune system and reducing your risk of a wide variety of infections. High-fiber diets are also linked to lower rates of colon cancer and can help you beat the bloated belly that's making you look older than you actually are.
Make Brussels Sprouts a Part of Your Meal Plan
Want to look younger? Bring on the Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts are a good source of lutein, which research conducted at Georgian Court University has linked to a reduction in sun damage and skin cancer. Lutein can also help stop the loss of your skin's natural elastin, which keeps you looking youthful by fending off fine lines and wrinkles.
Do Some Endurance Exercise
A little endurance exercise could be the prescription for a healthier, more energized, and younger-looking you. Research published in Mechanisms of Ageing and Development reveals that endurance exercise can reduce inflammation and help maintain skeletal muscle even into old age, keeping you strong and limiting the skin-sagging effects of muscle loss. Start improving your health and shed those extra pounds today with the 40 Tips That Double Weight Loss!
Make Happiness a Top Priority
Happy people might just have the key to the fountain of youth. Researchers at University College London have found that a cheerful disposition can slash your risk of an early death by as much as 35 percent, and studies show that smiling makes you look significantly younger than your actual age.
Snack on Some Peanuts
The secret to a healthy brain as you age is waiting for you on the shelf of your local supermarket. Peanuts are a good source of monounsaturated fatty acids, or MUFAs, which a study published in Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience has linked to reduced rates of brain aging.
Start Taking Care of Your Skin
The right skincare can make all the difference in the aging process. While upping your antioxidant intake, staying properly hydrated, and steering clear of preservative-packed processed foods can all help you look younger both inside and out, that doesn't mean you should discount topical treatments as effective means of slowing aging. Research published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that cosmetic creams actually improved the look of wrinkles more than their prescription counterparts over an 8-week period.
Add Some Flaxseed Oil to Your Food
Put a little flaxseed oil in your favorite recipes and you'll be on track toward a more youthful body in no time. Flaxseed oil is a good source of ALAs, which researchers at Oregon State University have linked to improved circulation and reduced cellular aging. Flaxseed also happens to be a vegan-friendly way to load your diet with omega-3s, which have been shown to reduce the risk of dementia, fight inflammation, and expedite weight loss.
Slap Some Steak on the Grill
Indulging in a good steak from time to time can keep your mind as sharp as it was when you were a teen. Beef is a good source of iron, which researchers at Turkey's Hacettepe University have linked to reduced rates of dementia in elderly study subjects. Staying full and focused is easier than ever when you add the 25 Best High Protein Snacks to your menu!
Pop a Multivitamin
There may actually be a magic pill that keeps you younger. Surprisingly, it's a multivitamin. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that women who regularly took multivitamins had longer telomeres, which can indicate a slowing of the aging process and reduced dementia risk, than those who skipped the nutritional boost.
Enjoy Some Broccoli
What's better for your skin than Botox? Broccoli. Broccoli is a good source of ALA, which research published in the British Journal of Dermatology has linked to reduced skin aging. Most green veggies are also a good source of fiber and antioxidants, which can help fend off free radical damage and keep your immune system strong.
Stop Eating When You're 80 Percent Full
Filling up at every meal may be making you age faster. In Okinawa, Japan, which has one of the oldest populations in the world, individuals regularly stopped eating when they were feeling 80 percent full. When you consider the wealth of research that suggests that caloric restriction can help delay the aging process, you've got plenty of good reasons to stop stuffing yourself.
Clear Your Mind
A clear mind is a beautiful thing —and one that can make you more youthful, too. Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco have found that engaging in mindfulness practice with the aim of limiting stress can increase the length of telomeres, a DNA sequence that caps your chromosomes, thus reducing the wear and tear that comes along with the aging process.
Bring on the B Vitamins
Enjoy better energy and cut your risk of chronic disease by making B vitamins a priority in your diet. B12, a vitamin found in dairy, meat, seafood, and eggs, has been linked to increased energy, and research conducted at the University of Melbourne even suggests that it may reduce a person's risk of colorectal cancer, the third most common form of non-skin cancer in the United States. B12 has also been linked to reduced inflammation and lower rates of Alzheimer's disease, making it a great way to improve your whole-body health. Kiss your low-energy life goodbye and welcome the 23 Best Foods For Energy into your kitchen!
Snack on Some Pomegranate
Discover a more youthful body by making pomegranates part of your regular routine. Researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne found that the urolithin A found in pomegranates can help fend off cell death and increased both the endurance and lifespan of animal test subjects.
Add Mushrooms to Your Meal
Get some vitamin D without exposing your skin to harmful UV rays by adding some mushrooms to your menu. Sunlight-grown mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D, which research published in Nature Immunology has linked to a decreased risk of sun-related skin damage. Even better, vitamin D can help improve your ability to absorb calcium, reducing your risk of osteoporosis and fractures, too.
Think of Yourself as Young
The best way to seem younger? Fake it 'til you make it. Research conducted at University College London found that men and women who felt younger than their age were significantly less likely to die in the eight years following the study's conclusion than those who felt older than their actual age. In fact, young-feeling adults reduced their risk of death by as much as 40 percent.
Go For a Swim
Think that's just a pool at your local gym? It might just be the fountain of youth. Researchers at Northwestern University found that people who swam regularly reduced their risk of heart disease by as much as 80 percent. Fortunately, you don't need much time in the water to enjoy this benefit; men who swam once a day enjoyed as much of a reduction in their risk of heart disease as those who practiced two-a-days.
Skip the Sleeping Pills
A good night's sleep can do wonders for your health, but regular sleeping pill users might want to try to wean if they're eager to keep aging at bay. Not only does research suggest that sleeping pills can inhibit memory recall and potentially cause so-called rebound insomnia when you stop taking them, the results of a study published in Sleep reveals that sleeping pills can increase your risk of death by as much as a third. Sleeping pills aren't the only things that can sabotage your weight loss; find out if you're guilty of the 40 Habits That Make You Sick and Fat, too.
Swap White Wine For Red
Swapping out your sugary white wine for a glass of full-bodied red could be the key to staying young. Researchers at the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Institute for Medical Research and the Litwin-Zucker Research Center for the Study of Alzheimer's Disease and Memory Disorders have found that resveratrol, an antioxidant pigment found in red grapes, slowed the rate of cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer's. Multiple studies have also confirmed its benefits for skin health and its potential for reducing visceral fat, making you look and feel younger each time you uncork a bottle.
Add Some Chia Seeds to Your Snacks
Make chia seeds part of your meal plan and say so long to those fine lines and wrinkles. Chia seeds are a vegan-friendly source of omega-3 fatty acids, which researchers at Purdue University have linked to increased collagen production, keeping your skin looking youthful.
Take Up Crafting
Eager to stop the aging process? Get crafty. A study published in the British Journal of Occupational Therapy found that 81 percent of depressed study subjects found some relief after knitting, while other research suggests that crafting can improve mental acuity, increase dopamine levels, and speed up your brain's processing capability for as long as a decade. Even better? All those spare scarves you'll have lying around will definitely take the stress out of figuring out what to give your second cousin's third wife this holiday season.
Get a Massage
Treat yourself to a massage and you'll give yourself the gift of youth along with it. Not only can massage significantly lower your stress level, research published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science reveals that massage can be an effective way of combatting cellulite, keeping your skin looking firm and youthful. Banish cellulite as you whittle your waistline with the 42 Ways to Lose 5 Inches of Belly Fat!
Get the Early Bird Special
Make like your grandma and opt for the early bird special —it could just make you healthier and more energized in the long run. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies reveals that mice who took a significant break from eating during the day shaved off significant body fat, reduced their cholesterol, and slept better, so give your body a break and stop eating a few hours before bed.
Take Some Personal Time
Taking some time for yourself may be the best medicine for preserving your health and youth. Research from the National Cancer Institute reveals that individuals who increased the amount of physical activity they did for leisure (read: not in a work-related context) extended their life expectancy by nearly 5 years.
Get Plenty of Rest Every Night
A good night's rest might just be the very best way to stop the aging process. A study conducted on 21,000 pairs of twins reveals that those who slept at least 7 hours a night were as much as 24 percent less likely to die suddenly than their well-rested counterparts. Research has also linked adequate sleep to lower levels of ghrelin, a hunger hormone that can lead to overeating, and more rapid rates of brain aging. Not convinced? The 20 Surprising Ways to Lose More Weight in Your Sleep might just make you eager to get some shut-eye.