If living a long and healthy life is a goal, there are steps you can take to turn back the clock.
Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, whose award-winning research into DNA methylation – the regulation of gene expression, has been studying the difference between biological and chronological aging, and she’s narrowed down how people can feel their best longer in her upcoming book, “YOUNGER YOU: Reduce Your Bio Age and Live Longer, Better.”
Utilizing epigenetics – the study of how environments and behaviors impact gene expression, the book details the eight-week clinical pilot trial Fitzgerald led that reportedly shaved off three years on participants’ bio age with accessible diet and lifestyle tweaks.
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Fitzgerald told Fox News Digital that motherhood and reports on American life expectancy going down inspired her to study biological aging. According to the World Health Organization’s most updated life expectancy repository, the average American lifespan is 78.6 years while the average healthspan is 66.6 years.
“Our biological age is moving faster in this country than our chronological age,” Fitzgerald said. “And those last 16 years are spent with at least one – and for most of us – two diagnoses of chronic disease. We’re not well. We don’t spend our later years healthy.”
While stats show Americans are biologically aging at a faster rate, Fitzgerald’s research indicates there are ways it can be slowed down, and the process is surprisingly simple and cost-effective.
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Have a nutritious diet
When it comes down to reversing your biological age, Fitzgerald recommends shifting your everyday diet to include nutritious foods, herbs and spices.
“Obviously, you want to eat more greens and colorful veggies like beets, and different herbs or botanicals like turmeric, which is in curry, and green tea – all of these have the ability to change our genetic expression towards something more youthful when taken together.”
Other nutrient-rich health foods Fitzgerald recommends includes low-sugar fruits like avocado, blood oranges, blueberries, grapefruit and green apples; clean animal proteins like eggs, grass-fed beef, pastured chicken, organic pork (if possible), lamb and salmon; and healthy monosaturated, saturated, omega-3 and omega-6 fats” that can be found in a variety of nuts and seeds.
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Daily carb consumption shouldn’t exceed 35% of your caloric intake and most can be eaten through fruit and veggie servings rather than grains, which often contain gluten – a wheat protein that can cause inflammation in some, Fitzgerald explained. i.e. Tom Brady and other gluten-free celebs who have touted its benefits (Miley Cyrus, Ryan Phillippe, Kourtney Kardashian and more).
Get moderate exercise
Getting moderate exercise each day promotes cellular repair, detoxification via sweat and burns pro-inflammatory fats while also building heart muscle. According to Fitzgerald, not exercising can potentially cut down on a lifespan much like smoking.
On a brighter note, the exercises that are helpful to reducing bio age aren’t necessarily intense.
“In our study, we also included a modest exercise prescription. It was nothing crazy – just a half an hour, five days a week, not going really hard, sort of perceived exertion of 60 to 80%,” Fitzgerald said. “So, 60% would be you’re breathing just a little bit more, maybe light sweating, you know, nothing too crazy. What’s important is consistency.”
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Fitzgerald added that many healthy centenarians practice a lifestyle that includes movement of some sort. These exercises could range from walking around town, gardening, dancing, cleaning or biking.
Reduce your stress
Aside from diet, stress is a leading cause of premature aging, Fitzgerald told Fox.
In her own words, “We are so stressed out as a country. And stress is like gasoline on the fire of aging. But, research also shows that reversing that stress like engaging in meditation or maybe yoga or tai chi – have really good effects on our genetic expression like contributing to that biologically younger profile.”
For her clinical trial participants, Fitzgerald prescribed a “basic meditation protocol.” She typically recommends 10 minutes of meditation twice a day, though there are relaxation podcasts or cuddle sessions with a pet or loved one that can help curb anxiety and other stressors.
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Don’t forget to snooze
Getting enough rest is the other key to staying biologically youthful, according to Fitzgerald. Getting at least seven hours of sleep each night not only helps to keep your energy level high during the day, but it’s also conducive to healthy DNA methylation.
“Sleep – if it’s good, quality will keep us biologically younger,” Fitzgerald said. “If we’re not sleeping well, we will change our genetic expression towards something that increases our risk of chronic diseases, which in turn increases our biological age.”
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Dr. Kara Fitzgerald’s “YOUNGER YOU: Reduce Your Bio Age and Live Longer, Better” will be available for purchase starting on Jan. 18, 2022.