Is Healthy Aging Possible?

7 Things Scientists Know That Will Change the Way You Look at Aging

With life expectancy increasing, healthy aging has become of great interest – and, it’s easier to achieve than you may think! Scientists know that aspects of a holistic lifestyle support healthy aging and which habits in our Western way of living are making us age faster. You already know certain populations age well – but, what aspects of their lifestyle are beneficial? Why do some holistic lifestyle practices make healthy aging possible? Research shows it is possible to enjoy health as you age. Here are more details on how you can love how you age, from the author of Aging Bites.

7 Things Scientists Know About Healthy Aging that Will Change Your Life

  • Tell a Friend, Poor Aging is Optional
  • A Holistic Approach Promotes Healthy Aging
  • Move Every Day
  • Breathing Promotes Longevity
  • Hang Out in Nature to Stay Young
  • Certain Foods Age You Faster
  • How Much You Eat Impacts Longevity
  1. Tell a Friend, Poor Aging is Optional

Aging is the greatest risk factor for most diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and neurodegeneration. Is your lifestyle one that promotes healthy aging? Healthy aging involves an interaction between your lifestyle, genes, and your environment. You can choose to practice a holistic lifestyle and eat foods that stimulate your genes to promote healthy aging. As for your environment, fill it with friends if you want to enjoy healthy aging. A study looking at over 300,000 participants across all ages found adults with strong social networks have a 50 percent boost in their longevity. (Maybe you should share this article with a friend, and tell them poor aging is optional?).

  1. A Holistic Approach to Aging is Optimal

Healthy aging is more than doing a puzzle or crossword to keep your brain stimulated. A holistic approach to healthy aging has been shown to promote longevity amongst many populations around the world. From strong social relationships to eating nutritious food, exercising outdoors, and practicing mindfulness, there are many ways a holistic lifestyle promotes healthy aging.

9 Easy Ways to Start Healthy Aging Today

Move from aging to successful longevity by adopting many healthy habits to create a holistic lifestyle. You could start your journey to healthy aging today!

  • Plan movement into your daily schedule
  • Plant a garden, visit parks, or forests
  • Avoid inflammatory foods (processed foods, sugary drinks)
  • Breathe deeply
  • Make sleep a priority
  • Build positive relationships with others
  • Try yoga
  • Nourish yourself with healthy foods
  • Avoid belly fat accumulation (reduce sugary foods, alcohol)
  1. Move Every Day

Let’s move a bit more. When researchers looked at data from 8 cohorts (Australia, United States, Mexico, Japan, South Korea, and Europe), comprising information from over 130,000 older adults, it was clear that physical activity beneficially impacted healthy aging. (Of note, the scientists adjusted for other lifestyle behaviours and sociodemographic characteristics.) Those people who moved every day aged well! Avoiding a sedentary lifestyle as you age is a key factor in healthy aging, particularly as aging puts you at greater risk of frailty and disability. Scientists want you to know moving your body is key to healthy aging. You got this! Keep moving and grooving.

  1. Breathing Promotes Longevity

Breathing is well-known to help lower stress, but scientists know it may also promote healthy aging. Yoga might be a 5000-year-old practice that includes movement, mindfulness, and breathing, but the popularity of this practice in the fast-paced, trend-loving Western society is actually backed by science. Yogic postures and breathing techniques have been shown in research studies to be correlated with a downregulation (slowing down) of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the systemic nervous system, which are both overactivated by a western lifestyle. Scientists found higher levels of beneficial components in the blood of yoga practitioners (glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase activity) than people who didn’t practice yoga. Scientists think aspects of yoga encourage the body’s cells to express genes that help to increase blood levels of these anti-aging components.

  1. Hang Out in Nature to Stay Young

Standing amongst trees and being in green spaces is more than just a place big enough for you to move in – exposure to nature has been linked in studies to promoting healthy aging. You could start with a simple addition of a houseplant to your office. Step out your door into nature, plant a garden in your yard, or add flower pots to your balcony. Plan your walks to include parks and green spaces. Meet a friend for a weekend outing in a local forest.

  1. Certain Foods Age You Faster

Certain populations are known for impressively healthy lifestyles that lead to healthy aging, such as those in the Mediterranean and Okinawa, Japan. Scientists understand that the Mediterranean diet’s consumption of virgin olive oil prevents the expression of genes that turn on inflammation. Inflammation is known to speed up aging, a process scientists call inflammaging. Sugary foods or fried and processed foods are known triggers of inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods include antioxidant-rich plants, olive oil, and omega-3 fatty acids. Advancements in the understanding of the role the gut microbiota plays make probiotics a potentially important factor in healthy aging.

Common Inflammatory Foods Worth Avoiding
  • Sugary beverages
  • Processed packaged foods
  • Deep fried foods
  • Hot Dogs, Bacon, Cured Meats
  1. How Much You Eat Influences How Well You Age

Calorie restriction has received a lot of attention amongst those seeking ways to achieve longevity, as not eating too much has been linked with healthy aging. It is important to clarify what exactly scientists mean by a calorie restriction associated with healthy aging. It is not a deprived diet, but a well-nourished calorie restriction that maintains healthy body weight, but avoids accumulation of abdominal fat. Excessive abdominal fat is associated with a higher risk of development of chronic diseases (e.g. heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome). Intermittent fasting in rat studies has also promoted healthy aging; however, more research is occurring to discover a non-fasting dietary pattern that would be more ideal for promoting healthy aging.


Social relationships and mortality risk: a meta-analytic review. PLos Medicine 2010;7(7).

Transcriptomics and the Mediterranean Diet: a systematic review. Nutrients 2017 May 9;9(5):472.

The impact of physical activity on healthy ageing trajectories: evidence from eight cohort studies. Int J Beh Nutr Phys Activ 2020 July;17(92).

Breathing to younger skin: reversing the molecular mechanism of skin aging with yoga. Future Sci OA 2016 Jun; 2(2): FOS122.

Residential exposure to natural outdoor environments and general health among older adults in Shanghai, China. Int J Equity Health 2019 Nov;18(178).

Calorie restriction in humans: an update. Ageing Res Rev 2017 Oct; 39: 36-45.

Transcriptomic effects of healthspan-promoting dietary interventions: current evidence and future directions. Front Nutr 2021; 8:712129.

Contributed by Allison Tannis

Known for her deliciously geeky words, Allison’s articles and books are read around the world by those curious about where to find the most delicious (and nutritious) places to stick their forks. More at Follow @deliciouslygeeky.