Wednesday, February 4, 2009

12 Health Risks of Aging That Baby Boomers Can Avoid

“Baby boomers would like to believe that terms like ‘over the hill’ will never apply to them. And they could, in fact, be right. While there's no stopping time, there's plenty you can do to foil the aging process. ‘We now have a much greater understanding of aging mechanisms,’ says Dean Ornish, professor of medicine at the University of California-San Francisco, ‘to the extent that we know which changes help you live longer but, more important, age better.’ How well you age depends on the intricate interplay between your genes and your lifestyle, which determines how quickly your cells divide, repair breakages in DNA, and die. Your chronological age doesn't necessarily correlate with how old your body thinks it is, says Michael Roizen, chair of the Cleveland Clinic's Wellness Institute and coauthor of YOU: Staying Young. ‘There are about 191 things that go into calculating your real age,’ he says, ‘and 149 of those things are within your control to change.’ You can, for example, quit smoking, cultivate strong social support, get regular exercise, and eat right. Even if you've been slipping up until now, making healthful changes today can turn back the clock—or at least slow it down. Ornish's research has found that a low-fat diet, regular exercise, and relaxation techniques all work in synergy to increase levels of telomerase, an enzyme thought to slow cellular aging and prevent healthy cells from turning cancerous. Specifically, he found that telomerase was boosted by 30 percent in prostate cancer patients who followed a plant-based, whole-grain diet with very little fat or sugar for three months. The men also took fish oil supplements, did daily 30-minute bouts of exercise, and practiced yoga or meditation for an hour a day. ‘Telomerase turns up those genes associated with disease prevention and turns down the genes associated with heart disease, diabetes, and cancer,’ explains Ornish.”

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