Are you over 25? Then pay attention. In my world of scientific longevity research, we don’t calculate age by what’s on your driver’s license, and we pay no attention to the youth-obsessed culture that ascribes to the notion that “50 is the new 30,” or “30 is the new 10,” or whatever. This isn’t Benjamin Button, folks. Age is now calculated on a cellular level by the length of your telomeres (and in this case, longer means better).

Telomeres are the "caps" at the ends of our chromosomes that naturally shorten during cell division (as we age). It’s not surprising that this shortening/aging can be accelerated by an unhealthy lifestyle. However, there’s hope! We may be able to turn back our cellular clocks!

Good: Nutrition, Nutrition, Nutrition

We now know the dietary choices you make today can impact your body and brain on a cellular level by tomorrow. Dr. Dean Ornish, founder of the  Preventive Medicine Research Institute, recommends a specific diet for longevity and disease prevention. The Ornish program emphasizes a plant-based diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fish, and very low in animal products and refined carbohydrates.

Better: Exercise And De-Stress For Longevity  

Several studies have shown that people who exercise have longer telomeres than those who don’t. Exercise maintains the production of telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens your telomeres and preserves telomere-stabilizing proteins.

When study participants were put into three groups -- non-exercisers, moderate exercisers and high-intensity exercisers, the moderate-intensity group had the youngest cellular age. My recommendation is that you wear a heart rate monitor and do an activity that you love and will stick with, as consistency is also key to the anti-aging formula.

But it's not just about eating right and working out. The primary contributor to cellular aging isn’t fast food or a sedentary lifestyle, it’s stress. Accelerated cell aging has now been associated with many stress-related conditions, including trauma exposure, major depression and other psychiatric disorders. But there are plenty of options available if you want to start decreasing your stress so you can feel and look younger, including yoga and mindfulness-based meditation.  

Best: Measure Your Cellular Age

telomere test can measure the length of your telomeres and compare your cellular age to your chronological age (cells vs self). The test isn’t only a measure of your biological age, but provides a measure of health and disease risk as well. Testing your telomere length over time can give you a window into how your cells are aging.

In November 2010, Harvard University researchers introduced the telomerase enzyme into mice, and for the first time ever, reversed aging in an animal. Unfortunately, injecting telomerase isn’t an option for humans. But the good news is, Dr. Ornish found that telomerase can be increased in humans in just 90 days with nutrition, exercise and stress reduction.

So, what time is your cellular clock keeping, and how will you start to decrease your cellular age?

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