As we age, our bodies go through a lot of changes.
We might not be able to run as fast or lift as much weight as we could when we were younger. We might start to get wrinkles and gray hair. We might not heal as quickly, and our risk for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease increases.
One of the leading explanations for why this happens is due to the accumulation of harmful metabolites known as free radicals or reactive oxygen species, which are produced as a by-product of normal metabolism. If these are not cleared away properly, they will damage tissues, cause inflammation, and eventually decline our cellular function, accelerating your aging clock.
So what can you do to slow down this process?
Eat and Drink More Antioxidants
Antioxidants neutralize reactive oxygen species. A few antioxidants you may be aware of are vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, but there are countless other minerals, flavonoids, polyphenols, and phytochemicals that have antioxidant activity.
Most antioxidants come from plants, and most plants contain antioxidant compounds. So the easiest way to ensure you are getting enough is to eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains every day. Tea and coffee are also great sources of antioxidants.
Inactivity and excessive exercise can cause oxidative stress and accelerate the aging process.
The key is finding a balance with moderate exercise appropriate for your fitness level and health. It should be enough to keep you regularly active and increase your heart rate, but not so extreme that you are damaging your body.
Jogging, swimming, and biking can be great forms of moderate exercise. This could also include activities such as gardening, dancing, or playing sports and games.
Get Quality Sleep
Sleep helps your body recover after a long day. It regulates your hormones, blood pressure, blood sugar, and immune system. It also helps everything function properly.
If you regularly find yourself sleep-deprived, exhausted, or fatigued, this is typically a sign that your body is not getting the quality rest it needs to function correctly.
To get quality sleep, ensure you sleep in a dark, quiet room. Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible. Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed, as well as electronic screens and bright lights.
Manage Stress Levels
Chronic stress damages your health and can speed up the aging process. It suppresses your immune system, increases inflammation, and increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, cancer, and other diseases.
There are many ways to manage stress. Exercise, meditation, and leisure time in nature are great ways to reduce stress. You can also try journaling, spending time with friends and family, or listening to music.
The better you manage your overall physical and emotional health, the better you’ll be able to slow down the aging clock and reduce your risk of age-related frailty and disfunction.