You’ve heard it before: Eating better and exercising regularly will lead you in the direction of a healthier lifestyle. But what you may not know is that changing your daily routine for the better can actually lengthen telomeres, an area of DNA that protects a chromosome from deteriorating – which affects how quickly you age. A recent study shows that making a few routine adjustments can reduce your risk of suffering from age-related illnesses and improve your chances of living longer.
Dean Ornish, MD, is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and the founder and president of the Preventative Medicine Research Institution. Recently, Ornish created a study to examine whether or not a healthier lifestyle would have a direct effect on telomeres. His results were certainly positive.
Ornish conducted a study with 35 men who all had early-stage prostate cancer. The object was to determine if lifestyle changes would influence their telomere lengths. Ten of the men made alterations that included a plant-based diet, moderate exercise such as walking, and stress reduction such as yoga, breathing and meditation. The other 25 men did not make any changes to their health and continued to go about their daily routines. At the end of the experiment, the men who improved their lifestyle showed a 10% boost in telomere length.
Ladies, don’t be alarmed. Although Ornish’s experiment was performed on men, he believes that it would work almost identically on women. Since the publication of Ornish’s research, a number of other studies have reached the same conclusion. Now that we know HOW your telomeres can be lengthened, it is important to alter your lifestyle accordingly.
A Plant-Based Diet
You may be asking yourself what counts as a plant-based diet. The answer is simple. First, try to reduce your meat intake – especially when it comes to red, fatty meats. If you’re a meat lover, invest in organically raised, grass-fed meats, which are often healthier. Participating in “Meatless Mondays” or setting aside days to be a vegetarian is a great way to decrease your intake. Secondly, choose vegetables and fruits that are high in fiber and protein. Remember, the greener the vegetable, the better it is for you. Lastly, make your diet fun. There are tons of ways to spruce up a vegetarian meal, such as putting together a delicious salad or mixing together a fruit smoothie.
There are a variety of ways for you to include moderate exercise into your day. In fact, a number of your daily activities include exercise – whether it’s cleaning the house or going grocery shopping. If you really want to enhance your daily workout, walking is key. According to Web MD, you should walk for about 25 to 30 minutes a day in order to ensure that you are getting enough moderate exercise.
Along with exercising, reducing stress can improve your health and your daily attitude. Stress reduction can be as simple as thinking positive thoughts or participating in deep breathing throughout your day. Other ways to reduce stress include meditation, yoga, laughing, listening to music and confiding in a strong support system.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices
There are a number of other ways in which you can lengthen your telomeres and improve your health. Try cutting back on alcoholic drinks, quitting smoking and spending more time hanging out with family and friends who put you in a good mood.