Some people live well into their 80s without getting sick nearly as often as their peers. Board-certified nutritionist and best-selling author Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS, has thought a lot about how people become a part of this “wellderly” population. “There are 80-year-olds running marathons and there are 18-year-olds who look like they’re extras on Breaking Bad,” he comments.
“Why do some people make it to wellderly while others don’t? While no one knows for certain, I’m guessing it’s a combination of genes and lifestyle, with lifestyle accounting for the lion’s share of the result. You can have the best genes in the world but they won’t protect you without a healthy lifestyle. So, let’s figure out the best way to play your cards to maximize your genetic potential.”
It wasn’t until Bowden was in his 40s that he cleaned up his own lifestyle. Now in his 70s, he plays strenuous tennis 9 to 12 hours a week, has written a book a year for about 15 years, takes no prescribed medications and has started a new business. Now he wants to share his best anti-aging tips with others.
“I was the polar opposite of healthy until I reached my 40s,” Bowden recalls. “I was doing everything possible to harm myself including smoking and not exercising. Given the way I lived my life, I should look like Keith Richards these days.”
Yet he is living proof that people can do a 180. “Mine was a gradual evolution rather than a revolution. I didn’t change my habits all at once. Once I started exercising, I began eating a little differently. But I’d still go to the gym and smoke between sets of bench presses. I didn’t stop smoking until much later when I started jogging.”
Today, Bowden appears at least 15 years younger than his true age. “My genes didn’t change. I just learned how to play my genetic cards the right way.”
Simple habits for a wellderly future
Bowden says there are many things you can do right now, today, that will make a huge difference in the way you age. They include:
Exercise. “Your body was meant to move. A lot. Do something physical every single day of your life.”
Monitor yourself. “Most people don’t want to run to the doctor for wellness tests that may or may not be covered by insurance. Here’s one free test you can take every day: Ask yourself how you feel. That’s the biggest “tell” of all. How’s your energy? Are you waking up feeling tired and toxic? Does that change if you take a walk? What happens if you cut out sugar for a week? Start paying closer attention to those things.”
Be smart about dietary supplements. “There are three basic supplements that I think everyone would benefit from, and I really mean everyone: Omega-3, magnesium and vitamin D. I’m also very excited about something that’s relatively new, a next-generation form of vitamin B3 that most people have probably never heard of yet, but is starting to get a huge amount of attention in the scientific community, among nutrition junkies, as well as in the medi. It’s called NR and it basically turbocharges energy production in the cell. Just as a car needs gas to go, cells need a substance called NAD+, but our levels of NAD+ decline as we age. NR is a proven effective booster of NAD+ which is why everyone is so excited about it. It helps boost energy production at the cellular level. So do yourself a favor and just learn more about this up-and-coming nutrient at AboutNR.com.”
Show your skin and joints some love. “Collagen is the name of the most predominant protein in the human body, and it’s the stuff that connective tissue – like skin and joints – are made of. And, as you can guess, we make less and less of it as we age which is why skin gets thinner and weaker, and wrinkles back up on itself as you get older. But oral collagen supplements are a great way to boost your collagen levels. Honestly, I’ve been taking oral collagen in the form of a powder or pills for going on 18 years. And it makes sense that something that helps your skin will also help the connective tissues in your joints. Unfortunately, not all collagen ingredients are effectively absorbed. I personally use BioCell Collagen. It’s been clinically proven to work.”
Make sure you’re sleeping well. “Almost no one gets good sleep these days, and it’s a huge health-robber. Try lowering the room temperature to 68 degrees. Don’t drink alcohol for a couple hours before bedtime. If snoring is an issue, start with the most obvious solutions such as a simple anti-snoring stent available at the drugstore, like Mute, which is adjustable and disposable. If you still have a problem that needs further intervention, then you can deal with it.”
Eat real food, mostly plants. “When I work with patients, my first intervention regarding diet sounds really simple, but it’s the single most important thing you can do. Don’t eat anything that isn’t real food. That’s it. Real food. For now, forget about the percentage of protein, fats and carbs. Just ask yourself this: Was the food I’m about to eat – plant or animal – once alive? Would my great grandmother recognize it as food? Would it spoil tomorrow if I put it out in my yard? I tell everyone I work with just to eat real food for 30 days and just watch how you feel. I never have to convince them after that.”
“You no longer have to follow the party line on how to grow older,” stresses Bowden. “I frequently play tennis with players who are one-quarter my age. I am in a passionate relationship. I wake at around 6 a.m. every morning without an alarm clock. I’ve got a ton of energy and enthusiasm for life. And I plan to keep it that way for a very long time!”
Bowden points out that, “Almost nothing about aging is written in stone, and there’s a heck of alot you can do right now to influence how it all turns out.”
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