By age 50, behavior and environmental factors have a much bigger impact on your health than genetics. By mid-life, your DNA is a factor that is responsible for only about one-third of how well you age.
You really can add years to your life by adopting healthier lifestyle habits. Here are examples of how lifestyle and habits impact you’re your biological age:
1. Eat less sugar, more vegetables.
Diet choices can make a difference of 13 years from worst (lots of sugar and processed foods) to best (vegetarian). Studies show that taking small measures such as avoiding simple carbs, sugars and syrup, adding more fruits and vegetables and eating less saturated fat (meat) can make a big difference.
2. Focus on your blood pressure.
One of the biggest mistakes is ignoring your blood pressure. High blood pressure can age you 12 years (even more if your blood pressure is VERY high). High blood pressure can even cause wrinkles and other visual signs of aging.
You should check your blood pressure once a year if you don't have blood pressure issues, and more often (daily for some) if you do. Ideal blood pressure is LESS than 120/80.
Too little sleep may accelerate the aging process. Try to aim for at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Sleep also helps increase beneficial neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Missing sleep can affect your health, like your blood pressure which is a major driver of your real age.
Download the free Sharecare app to learn your RealAge.
(Sharecare is a health data company founded by Dr. Oz and Jeff Arnold of WebMD.)
3. Find your happy place.
Stress and relationships are a major driver of real age. Major stressors can add six years to your real age, but handling stress well and having a strong support system can help reduce your age by five years. The most important social factors for your real age include:
- Having someone you can talk to about private matters or for help
- Having a strong relationship with your spouse or partner
- Participating in group activities, such as religious services or social groups
Want to do more to improve your health? Check out these seven tips for boosting longevity and happiness.