How old are you?

You probably responded with your chronological age. That is the amount of time that has passed since you were born. While chronological age can help determine the risk for chronic disease and mortality, it is only one measurement. The other measure is your biological age, also known as physiological or functional age, which considers factors that might create even more risk.

You've probably heard the cliché that "age is only a number." Recent research has shown a vast difference between chronological and biological age—or how old your body appears to be at the cellular level. Maintain a healthy lifestyle using the guide below. Who knows? You may even feel younger this time next year.

Ward off Inflammation: Chronic inflammation increases your risk of many diseases, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and dementia.

  • Your gut contains trillions of organisms that create anti-inflammatory compounds, but they need to be fed. Strive to consume no less than 30 grams of fiber daily. Foods of note include oranges, Brussels sprouts, oatmeal, raw oats, and bananas.
  • Neutralize stress: focused breathing, meditation, and yoga are all excellent options.
  • Eat a variety of plant foods rich in antioxidants. These foods contain phytonutrients that quash the free radicals that damage the cells of our blood vessels:
    • Dark green vegetables – nutritional powerhouses whether you eat them raw or cooked until just tender-crisp.
    • Purple vegetables and fruit, rich in many nutrients, but especially the antioxidant anthocyanin.
    • Orange vegetables, rich in beta carotene.
    • Red bell peppers, rich in vitamin C, as well as anthocyanin.
    • Green tea contains catechins, an antioxidant associated with a lower risk of death.

Whittle the Waste: Excess weight, especially around the middle, increases the risk of chronic inflammation and puts added stress on the heart and joints.

  • Eat less; eat early. Our bodies burn more calories earlier in the day. Plus, eating late at night can negatively impact sleep.
  • Log seven to nine hours of sleep a night. During specific sleep cycles, your body balances chemicals related to weight. Sleep hygiene and good habits will help. I find the Fitbit tracker helpful in evaluating my sleep. The advanced features in the premium subscription have been revealing.
  • Maintain muscle mass. Lean mass burns significant calories at all times. If your fitness routine doesn't already include weight training, a trainer can help you create a safe and fun plan.

Protect Your Heart and Brain

  • Eat food rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish is rich in EPA and DHA, the forms utilized more fully. Chia seeds, ground flax seeds, and avocado are good plant sources.
  • After chopping, onions, garlic, and shallots are rich in allicin, which supports heart health.
  • Move more: scientists have studied people with the most extended lives and find that they don't sit much. They move around a lot. You can start by making it a habit to take a two-minute brisk walk every hour.
  • Learn something new. When we learn, we create new brain connections. Learning a new skill that is also physically active, like dancing or tai chi, provides double benefits.

Safeguard Your Vision

  • Eat foods rich in lutein and zeaxanthin. These are important antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage. Most notably, they support the clearance of free radicals in your eyes. Excellent vegetable sources include dark greens (spinach, kale, parsley, spinach, broccoli, and peas), red peppers, and winter squash. These nutrients are found in some fruit, especially oranges, honeydew, cantaloupe, kiwis, and grapes.
  • Egg yolks contain zinc, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin—all of which are vital to eye health.

Maintain Strong Bones

  • Focus on eating several sources of calcium-rich foods every day.
  • Eat tomatoes, watermelon, and ruby-red grapefruit rich in lycopene, a nutrient known for helping bones.
  • Regularly consume prunes and almonds. These contain compounds known to promote bone strength.

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