Four lifestyle habits—not smoking, not being obese, 30 minutes of exercise a day, and eating plenty of fruits, veggies, whole grains, and little or no meat—can in effect turn back the clock 14 years. Of these four habits, diet may be the most important  for DNA health. The more servings of fruits, vegetables, and beans we consume, the longer we may live. A plant-based diet appears to help preserve muscle mass, boost immunity, repair DNA faster, slow the process of aging, meaning one can enjoy not just a longer life, but a healthier one.

The enzyme TOR (Target of Rapamycin), which promotes cellular growth and proliferation throughout our lives, can be influenced by diet. Consuming milk and other animal products has been found to upregulate the activity of TOR, and may increase the risk of a variety of cancers. Reducing animal protein consumption on the other hand, lowers TOR activity to an extent similar to caloric restriction and exercise.

Cooked in particular ways, poultry, pork, seafood, and beef can be the most concentrated dietary sources of AGEs, Advanced Glycation End products, also known as glycotoxins, which may accelerate the aging process. These may be reasons why meat consumption is associated with living a significantly shorter life with increased cancer mortality, increased heart disease mortality, and increased overall mortality.

Restricting methionine intake (largely by restricting animal products) is strategy for extending our lives. Managing stress through activities such as meditation could in effect reverse the aging of our DNA. Seventh-Day Adventists in California, a mostly vegetarian population, may have the highest life expectancy on any formally described population.

Antioxidant pills have no apparent effect on aging, though antioxidant-rich foods may. Some foods that appear to protect against aging include: berries (for the brain, skin, and eyes), grains (for protection against Alzheimer’s disease) turmeric, corn and spinach (for macular degeneration), nutritional yeast, watercress, cocoa, green and yellow vegetables (to prevent wrinkles).

Topic summary contributed by Linda.