#196 Fountain of Youth

Tell a friend

"You're never too old to become younger."

Mae West

The Real Fountain of Youth
By Steve Edwards

Forget Botox, plastic surgery, and liposuction. The best way to counteract the effects of aging is to take care of your body and mind. Aging is a natural process that follows a scientific progress. Medical procedures can help you temporarily look better, but by far, your best results will come from analyzing what science reveals to us and taking proactive steps towards reversing your body's natural affinity for falling apart. Follow the 10 tips listed below and your life will improve, you'll age more gracefully, and you might just find yourself able to keep up with your kids.

  1. Do intense exercise. Cardio's great, and important, but intensity is the key to antiaging. Your body loses muscle mass as you age. Resistance training creates hypertrophy (muscle building), which will offset some of that loss. Furthermore, increasing your heart rate to 90% of its maximum for short intervals (doing things like jumping, sprinting, heavy weight training) increases capillarity, mitochondrial, and bone density—all three important components to counteract aging.

  2. Eat less food. A now famous study was done on two monkeys, in which one was fed a yummy, filling diet (not overeating) and the other was deprived of calories. The monkey on the "normal" diet aged much more quickly. Even starker was the contrast in lifestyles, as the calorie-restricted monkey was extremely vital and active into old age. Studies in humans are recent, but seem to show a decrease in free radical damage to proteins, lipids, and DNA. The older you get, the lower your caloric requirements are. This doesn't mean don't eat, but small frequent snacking is the way to go, and calories should be altered daily, directly related to your activity level.

  3. Eat less sugar. GH (growth hormone) levels decrease as we age. You can supplement HGH (human growth hormone) but studies are still inconclusive as to whether or not this has adverse side effects. It's also expensive. The natural way includes intense exercise and eating less sugar and other starchy junk foods because high-glycemic carbohydrates reduce GH production.

  4. Take amino acids. Even if you get plenty of protein in your diet, supplemental ornithine, arginine, and glutamine will help increase your body's GH release. And an arginine/citrulline mixture has also been shown to work as a vasodilator, which can help with alertness, sports performance, and even sexual performance.

  5. Sleep more. Sleep also increases GH production, along with many other things that repair breakdown from the rigors of living. Sleeping seven to eight hours a day—along with short naps when you can manage it—will keep your body tuned and ready to run.

  6. Work less. Unless your workplace promotes sleeping on the job, working creates stress and stress has been shown to cause mitochondrial breakdown and free radical buildup. As we age, it becomes increasingly difficult to process free radicals and the last thing we need is more stress. Continuing to work can help as you age if your job challenges you intellectually and/or socially. But work fewer hours and try to let it affect you less. Work to live, not the opposite.

  7. Take fish oil. If I could recommend one supplement, it would be fish oil. Its fatty acids, EPA and DHA, help reduce chronic inflammation brought on by poor diet, smoking, drinking, breathing unhealthy air, etc. This is not the same type of inflammation that you get when you, say, sprain your ankle. Chronic inflammation is a state that weakens your body's ability to stave off disease. Being stiff and achy, which we often associate with getting old, is often a sign of chronic inflammation.

  8. Eat organic produce. There's more to organic growing than a lack of pesticides. Organically grown produce has been shown to have higher quantities of vitamins and, hence, antioxidants. Antioxidants scavenge free radicals, which helps keep chronic inflammation at bay. Whole grains, leafy green veggies, and fresh fruit also help counteract inflammation.

  9. Use body lotion. Preferably one with CoQ10 and sunblock. Your largest organ, your skin, needs both internal and external protection. Diet and exercise will help greatly but applying moisturizing lotion daily will help keep it smooth and elastic. Small doses of sun are good for your skin but overexposure is as bad as advertised. Use a lotion with SPF 15 (at minimum) daily.

  10. Add DHEA and melatonin to your diet. DHEA and melatonin are hormones that your body makes less of as you age. Melatonin, known more as a sleep aid, is also a powerful antioxidant that seems to act as a catalyst, telling your body to shut down as you age. Since your natural levels drop radically beyond age 30, supplementing with small dosages (under 2 mg) a few times a week can counteract this process. And, if you have trouble sleeping (see Tip #5), taking an extra 3 mg to 5 mg could help this, too.

For questions and/or comments on this article, please email us at mailbag@beachbody.com. Responses to your questions may be seen at Steve Edwards' Mailbag.

For Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope.

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Handy Portion Control Guide
By Debbie Siebers, creator of Slim in 6®

To achieve weight loss, it's crucial to really understand what a portion is. Here's a trick: use your hand as a guideline to portion sizes.

Palm = Proteins
Make protein portions the size of your palm. Protein is found in animal products, like fish, meats, and cottage cheese. Some veggie sources include legumes (beans, etc.), tofu, tempeh, and wheat glutens.

Thumb = Fats
Fats are important but also very dense, so match portions to the size of your thumb. Good fat sources are avocados, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.

Fist = Fruits, Grains, etc.
Your bread, fruit, cereal, rice, and grain portions should be about equal to the size of your closed fist. Remember that whole grains are always preferred.

Hand = Veggies
Open your hand and spread your fingers as wide as you can. That is a good vegetable portion. Raw vegetables are loaded with fiber and nutrients, and contain very few calories.

If you're a Team Beachbody® Club Member, visit Debbie's Corner for more of her expert tips and advice. Not a Team Beachbody® Club Member? Click here to start your membership right away!

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