Slowing the rate at which you age isn’t just for old people. If you’re under 40, the supplement basics offered in WholeHealth Plan #1 provide plenty of coverage, provided you live your entire life with the goal of reaching your upper 90s or early 100s.
But living a long life, though undeniably nice, isn’t much use if you’re not feeling well, and this is true regardless your age. What you want is longevity without chronic debilitating illness, emphasizing healthspan over lifespan. In other words, you’d prefer to stand in line at a ski slope rather than standing in line at a pharmacy.
Keep in mind that most chronic illnesses are the result of poor lifestyle choices. Let’s look at some theories on why we age:
- Genetic This effect is probably overrated. If everyone in your family lives into their 90s, you’ve gotten lucky, but an unhealthy lifestyle will blow your advantage out of the water.
- Free radicals are altered oxygen molecules that we generate just because we’re living, breathing beings, but we also get them from our polluted environment, tobacco smoke, and fried foods. Free radicals inexorably damage cells, especially the tips of our chromosomes, called telomeres. I wrote more about this here. Telomere shortening is currently the strongest theory of why we age. Supplements called antioxidants mop up free radicals and preserve telomere length.
- Immunologic decline occurs with the passage of time. We saw this expressed during the Covid-19 pandemic with the highest mortality among the elderly. But again, healthy older adults without chronic illnesses did about as well as everyone else, their immune systems apparently fit enough to protect them.
- Chronic stress throws a wrench into every smooth-functioning system of your body.
- Obesity, chronic inflammation, mind/body inactivity, and nutritional deficiencies all press the fast-forward button on aging.
Habits that boost healthspan
Now let’s review what you can do day-to-day to dial back aging.
First, start your own anti-aging eating program, asking at every meal “Does this contribute to my longevity?” or, if you want to sound scientific, “Will this food shorten my telomeres?” (When your lunch companion’s French fries arrive, try not to wag your finger.)
Your goal isn’t all that difficult: Cut out added sugars of all types (from high fructose corn syrup to candy and all sugary drinks). Same for high-glycemic/white foods, including refined-four breads and pasta, pastry, cakes, and cookies. Skip junk food entirely.
Your modest calorie intake should be nutrient-dense, meaning you’re avoiding empty calories. Choose responsibly raised meats, wild-caught fish, and organic dairy for protein. If you can tolerate them, eat whole grains, beans, and high-fiber selections such as brown rice, chickpeas, and nuts. Go for between five and ten portions of fruit and veggies daily. Drink green tea and coffee for their antioxidant effects.
In addition, work your body every day, both physically (brisk walking, stretching, stationary bike, swimming, lifting heavy things) and mentally (keep learning, engage in more complex conversations than sports scores). Maintain connections with people.
Dr E’s anti-aging supplements
Here’s my personal list of supplements I classify as anti-aging. I take one capsule of each two times daily, with food.
By the way, this list is distinct from the memory-enhancing supplements (nootropics) I mentioned last week.
- Resveratrol Ultra HP supports NAD+, a molecule involved in telomere length.
- UBQH 50 mg, a very potent antioxidant similar to CoQ10 but with four times the bioavailability. It protects cells from damage and is involved in nearly 95% of chemical reactions in the body.
- Lipoic acid 100 mg (Designs for Health), another potent antioxidant that protects cells from damage. The cream form is popular with cosmetic dermatologists to slow skin aging.
- Green Tea Extract (Xymogen). I was impressed when studies from China tracking 100,000 citizens found that regular green tea drinkers lived longer. Again, it’s the antioxidant effect. I personally dislike the taste of green tea and thus prefer to take the concentrate in a capsule. (Please don’t try to convince me that “it’s really delicious.” My wife has been telling me this for years.)
The personal supplements I listed last week also have anti-aging properties.
- A high-potency multiple vitamin
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil)
- Theracurmin HP (turmeric–both an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant).
If you made it to this point, congratulations. It can be daunting to consider what’s involved in anti-aging, but I hope this Health Tip will guide you.
Memory supplements are next week (in case you forgot).
David Edelberg, MD