“Eat healthy, exercise regularly, die anyway.” – I’m sure you’ve heard some variation of this phrase over the last few years, most likely from someone who needs to improve their lifestyle but isn’t really motivated to change.
Research shows that people who live a healthy lifestyle, eat a lot of plants, take supplements, workout regularly, and who avoid toxic chemicals and processed food, only live about 3-5 years longer on average than those who don’t – so what’s the point? Why do we choose salads over pizza and the gym over TV?
Quality of life.
There may not be a significant difference in the lifespans of the health conscious versus the non-health conscious, but there is indeed a difference in the ability, autonomy, quality of life, and rates of disease between the two groups.
It is true, many factors affect human health that are beyond our control (genetics, pollution, environmental stressors and toxins, etc.), but managing those elements which are within our control (nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc.) only increases our odds for living more fully.
The following is a list of scientifically supported supplements and home remedies that have been shown to benefit the aging body and mind.
Wrinkles and Skin Health
Here’s an unfortunate fact: Wrinkles are a natural part of aging.
Have you ever seen a 70 year old without wrinkles? Didn’t think so. The skin naturally becomes thinner and less elastic over time.
There are, however, a few lifestyle factors that will cause skin to wrinkle more rapidly than it should, such as sun damage, stress, and smoking.
Consuming high amounts of sugar will also cause skin to age more quickly. How? Excess sugar causes insulin levels to rise. One of insulin’s many functions is to stimulate cell division. High insulin levels means skin cells will divide more rapidly and lead to collagen damage and premature aging.
When it comes to keeping skin healthy and radiant, the most important nutrients to utilize are antioxidants (1)(2)(which can arrest free radical formation), collagen, and those having an anti-inflammatory effect.
♦ Additionally, cinnamon has been revealed to increase collagen production, which may result in improved skin firmness and elasticity (6).
Longevity, Brain Function, and Disease Prevention
Let’s just get this out of the way first because it should be common knowledge at this point: Exercise, good nutrition, stress reduction, restful sleep, and healthy relationships will do more for your appearance and general well-being than any pill, potion, or lotion.
Having said that, there isn’t any way to STOP ourselves from aging, but we CAN avoid many of the effects which result from poor lifestyle choices.
The following supplements and natural remedies have been scientifically proven to reduce or reverse various effects of growing old.
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids are a common deficiency in the world today – due largely to a lack of fatty fish and game meat in the human diet. As a result, we suffer a wide variety of health issues, including premature aging and mental defect.
♦ Fatty fish and fish oil supplements (which contain both DHA and EPA omega-3s) have been shown to reduce depression, protect fetal brain health during pregnancy, lower anxiety, and slow the development of dementia as we age (11)(12)(13)(14)(15).
Given the vast amount of scientific support regarding omega-3s and human health, it is often one of the most important nutrients with which to supplement.
2. Green Tea
Green tea is loaded with health promoting antioxidants that reduce the formation of free radicals and lower the risk of various diseases such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and infection.
♦ In a study of 40,530 Japanese adults, participants who drank 5 or more cups of green tea per day were significantly less likely to die from strokes or heart disease during an 11 year time span (20).
♦ Another study of 14,001 elderly Japanese subjects aged 65-84 discovered that green tea drinkers were 76% less likely to die during a 6 year period (21).
Green tea does contain caffeine, however, so those trying to avoid stimulants might want to avoid this one.
Part of the reason we age is because of accumulated damage to our DNA over a lifetime. Damage to DNA also plays a role in the development of diseases like cancer (22).
♦ One study demonstrated an improvement in several markers of brain function among elderly subjects suffering from mild cognitive impairment after consuming blueberry juice for 12 weeks (26).
♦ A six year study of 16,010 elderly participants found that blueberries and strawberries were linked to delays in cognitive aging by up to 2.5 years (27).
Consuming a wide variety of bright, colorful fruits and vegetables is a simple way to consume high amounts of antioxidants. Supplements made from such foods are also a great alternative.
4. Intermittent Fasting
If you don’t know anything about intermittent fasting, this is a great beginner’s guide.
♦ Although human research on IF and Alzheimer’s disease is far from conclusive, animals models have shown great promise with regard to improving brain function and extending lifespan (28)(29)(30)(31). In some of these studies, the effects were quite dramatic, illustrating that rats that fasted every other day lived 83% longer than rats who didn’t (32).
The word “miracle” is thrown around a lot in health product advertising, but curcumin (a compound in turmeric) is probably closer to securing that title than anything. We’ve written several articles outlining the scientific support curcumin has earned. It’s quite impressive.
♦ Earlier we explained that, when it comes to aging, antioxidants and foods which have anti-inflammatory properties are paramount. Curcumin is a superstar in both categories (38)(39)(40)(41)(42)(43)(44).
♦ For this reason, curcumin has become very popular as an anti-aging supplement (45).
6. Nuts & Plants
Good nutrition plays a very important role in all aspects of human potential. Leafy greens and nuts are simple sources of essential vitamins and minerals that supply the necessary building blocks of a healthy body and brain.
♦ A 2013 study reported that subjects who ate 3 servings of nuts per week had a 39% lower risk of premature death (49).
Some nuts are healthier than others, though, so stick with the most nutritious varieties.
♦ A plant heavy diet has also been linked in many studies to a lower risk of premature death. It’s also been associated with a reduced risk of cancer, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, depression, and brain deterioration (52)(53)(54)(55).
Resveratrol is a plant compound that acts like an antioxidant. This compound tends to be concentrated mostly in the skins and seeds of grapes and berries, making red wine, grapes, and some berries the top sources of resveratrol.
♦ With this in mind, resveratrol treatments could reduce cognitive decline in the future (63).
Coffee has been unjustly vilified because science says coffee is good for you. Once for ounce, it contains more antioxidants than any vegetable!
♦ From a review of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies published over 15 years, it was discovered that up to 400mg of caffeine per day (about .5 – 4 cups of coffee) could maximize and protect brain function (67)(68).
Read our article on the health benefits of coffee for a more complete review of the research.