Listen, I’m not going to call you old and slow. But odds are, your body looks a lot older and moves a lot slower than it should. And it doesn’t matter if you’re a 20-something just starting to take on life or a 60-year-old who has seen it all. You need to make a change.
Men—and women—are aging at a more rapid pace than ever before. The reasons are lifestyle factors that have caused mutations to your mitochondria—the cellular energy plants of your body.
Mitochondria perform the lion’s share of work turning your food into energy. But in men, certain mutations of the mitochondria might be impacting how quickly you age, says Australian researchers. Meaning that not only are you starting to look older at a younger age, but as a result your health is declining faster, too.
Exercising helps and so does sleeping. These should be the foundations of your “stay young” plan. Beyond the basics, there’s a reason intermittent fasting (IF) has increased in popularity. Most assume it’s for weight loss, but the real benefits of IF relate to your health.
If you want to really improve the mechanisms that influence again, the quick fix is not waiting in spa treatments, OTC products, and anti-aging cleanses that make promises that go beyond their abilities.
Exploring The Fountain of Youth
If you want to age better you have to focus on where the aging problems begin: the cellular level. The natural cleansing of your body is called autophagy and it is part of the process of helping ensure you don’t look older than your age.
Autophagy helps you repair injuries, makes your brain function a little better, helps with muscle growth and fat loss, and even assists in your ability to walk and breathe. You see, every day there are millions of cellular reactions occurring in your body. Some of this activity causes damage within your body. Like any equipment that is used a lot, the daily stress causes breakdown.
Fortunately, your body is built for such circumstances and can naturally heal anything that isn’t working at an optimal level. This is autophagy.
So what happens when your internal repair is slow and lazy and doesn’t get the job done? That’s when you have a damaged internal environment. More specifically, when your workers don’t repair your mitochondria—the “cellular power plant” of your body—then your body is screwed.
You age faster. You suffer from chronic disease. You lose your hair. And you get fat.
You don’t want any of this. Which brings us back to hormones, and in particular growth hormone, which helps the natural process of autophagy. And lower levels are the real reason your reaching for the wrinkle cream.
The Anti-Aging Eating Plan
What’s the best way to pump up the autophagic process into a group of grind-it-out interns that will work when needed? Strategic eating and variations of intermittent fasting.
This isn’t about specific foods or how much protein, carbs, and fats you eat. It’s simpler than that. This is about when you eat. Or more specifically, when you don’t eat. The more time you spend eating—as in actual hours during the day eating—the less time you spend enjoying the “benefits” of autophagy.
Listen, I’m not the first to suggest this. Far from it. The first time I learned about how to manipulate it came from Brad Pilon, of Eat Stop Eat fame. That’s why intermittent fasting fires up the autophagic process and cleanses your cells.
The upside is that this type of eating still offers you the freedom to still eat the foods you love, and follow the diet of your choice—whether it’s low carb, vegan, or the meat-eaters delight (our personal favorite).
By turning on autophagy you’re going to promote cellular repair, which is going to give you all the benefits you can’t immediately see—but are exactly what you need to help facilitate a healthier internal environment.
More importantly, the cells that keep you looking your age—or younger—will be healthy and refreshed. And your brain should age more efficiently. Research even suggests that you can even fight off disease such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
It’s not magic and it won’t be anything you can “feel.” But if it’s a strategy that can work within your lifestyle, it might be one of the best health maintenance strategies you can add to your life.
Adam Bornstein is a New York Times bestselling author and, according to The Huffington Post, “one of the most inspiring sources in all of health and fitness.” An award-winning writer and editor, Bornstein was the Fitness and Nutrition editor for Men’s Health, Editorial Director at LIVESTRONG.com, and a columnist for SHAPE, Men’s Fitness, and Muscle & Fitness. He’s also a nutrition and fitness advisor for LeBron James, Cindy Crawford, Lindsey Vonn, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. His work has been featured in dozens of publications, including The New York Times, Fast Company, ESPN, and GQ, and he’s appeared on Good Morning America, The Today Show, E! News, and The Cheddar.