7 Anti-Aging Secrets

Check out some of our best advice to help you feel younger and healthier.

1. DNA Life Changer
Healthy habits can actually repair your DNA, say researchers Dean Ornish, MD, and Elizabeth Blackburn, MD. Their study subjects ate vegetarian whole foods with 10 percent of calories from fat, walked 30 minutes six days a week, used stress-reducing techniques, and went to a weekly support group. The results? Besides a decrease in LDL cholesterol and stress levels, they showed a 29 percent rise in telomerase. This enzyme repairs and lengthens telomeres, tiny protein complexes on the ends of chromosomes that are vital for immunity and longevity. Short telomeres and low levels of telomerase signal an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, plus a poor prognosis if you do get ill.

Editor's Note -- October 5, 2009: Elizabeth H. Blackburn (mentioned below), Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak have just won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their breakthrough work on telomerase, which was discussed in a Reader's Digest article (see below) published earlier this year.

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2. Exercise Matters
A walk with your spouse gives you a chance to talk over the day, and playing tennis together can be a bonding experience. But that's not why you should bother. Here's why: Getting active can mean a longer life for both of you.

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3. 2 Important Steps to Remain Young From Dr. Oz
Walk. When you can't walk a quarter mile in five minutes, your chance of dying within three years goes up dramatically.

Second most important is building a community -- avoiding isolation. Because if your heart doesn't have a reason to keep beating, it won't.

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4. Dial Back on Meat and Pork
A ten-year study of 545,000 Americans found that people who eat about four ounces of beef or pork a day (the amount in an average-sized burger) are at least 30 percent more likely to die early, compared with those who consume an ounce or less daily. Though previous research has linked a diet heavy in red meat to a greater risk of heart disease and colon cancer, this is the first big study to look at how it affects your life expectancy.

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5. 2 Keys to a Longer Life
Two recent studies suggest surprising but heartwarming keys to a longer life. You're more likely to rack up the years if you:

Expect the best. Of 100,000 women in the Women's Health Initiative study, those rated optimistic by special questionnaires were 14 percent less likely than pessimists to die during the study's first eight years

Care for a loved one. Despite the stress involved, men and women who put in the most time taking care of a spouse cut their own risk of dying by 36 percent over a seven-year period, researchers at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor found.

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6. Get a Goal: Having a Purpose Gives You an Edge
Whether you believe you have some purpose to fulfill on earth or just have trips you plan to take and books you want to read, you have a survival edge over people with fewer goals. So say researchers at the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago who interviewed more than 1,200 older adults. Elders with sure intentions and goals were about half as likely as aimless seniors to die over the five-year follow-up.

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7. Get Enough Vitamin D
Low vitamin D levels have been associated with osteoporosis, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer. And it gets worse: According to new research, adults who don't get enough of the "sunshine vitamin" are 26 percent more likely to die early. A 12-year study of 13,000 men and women didn't finger any one cause of death, "because vitamin D's impact on health is so widespread," says researcher Michal Melamed, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx. Besides drinking fortified milk, she suggests that you: Get just 10 to 15 minutes of midday sunshine (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) several days a week may do the trick (apply sunscreen after those few minutes). Take supplements.

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