Your 5-Step Plan for Living Longer
If you make these small lifestyle changes, you could add years to your life

July 16, 2015

You’ve built a lot of stuff in your life—maybe a deck, perhaps some muscle, certainly your reputation. But no matter how boast-worthy (or cringe-inducing) the final results, all of your DIY projects up to this point have just been warmups for this one: constructing stronger and longer telomeres.

These caps on the ends of your chromosomes influence the way you age, and by building buff telomeres you may reduce your risk of developing cancer, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.

That’s why you should consider this five-step plan your blueprint to living a longer life. Granted, no one will actually be able to see the results of your hard work. So what? Your longevity will be proof of a job well done.

1. Bring Those 10 Minutes to Your Quiet Space

Sit down, close your eyes, and breathe in and out to the count of 10.

According to a UC Davis study, people who meditated daily during a three-month retreat had more telo-merase activity, which rebuilds telomeres. Over time, meditating may lessen the wear and tear on your DNA.

2. Eat Your Greens with Orange Peppers

This combo contains lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamin C, three antioxidants that protect your DNA from free-radical damage.

Researchers in Austria found that older people with the highest blood levels of this trio had the longest telomeres.

3. Finally Learn Your Neighbour’s Name

You’ll both benefit from getting to know each other: A University of Michigan study reported that people who live in communities with lower levels of social cohesion and safety had shorter telomeres than residents of more tightly knit neighbourhoods.

4. Want to Pair Those Peppers with Protein?

Grill up salmon or tuna, which are filled to the gills with omega-3 fatty acids.

Ohio State University researchers found that people with the lowest ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids had longer telomeres. Since the typical American diet is high in omega-6s, you can fix the imbalance by eating more 3s.

5. Use Your Self-Awareness to Monitor Your Folate Intake

In a 2015 study, people with the highest levels of folate, found in leafy greens, had the shortest telomeres.

Too much of it can damage DNA. But don’t skimp on spinach; cut back on fortified grains, like cereal.