Longevity isn’t about adding years to your life. Instead, it is about adding life to your years. It isn’t about life span but health-span.

Aging is an obvious part of the life cycle. In fact, our aging process starts the moment we are born. It’s inevitable and no human being has control over that. But, what we do have control over is the pace of aging and how we age. A 70-year-old man could either be in and out of hospitals, immobile, unhappy, on a laundry list of medications, or lean, muscular, fit, happy, and truly enjoy what he has achieved in life because he has the health to do that. And we all are aware of people in our life whom we admire because they defy aging! So, it’s possible.

Scientists have studied the aging process for a long time. It appears that the aging process is dependent on a combination of genetic and non-genetic factors, which in turn again affects the genes. The non-genetic factors majorly mean your lifestyle and the impact of the environment around you. What this means is, that it’s time we stopped blaming our genes for aging fast. All of us have good and bad genes and they can be turned on and off for better or worse by our lifestyle and environment. This includes the food we eat, our sleep, exercise, stress levels, toxic exposure, weather, sunlight, radiation, chronic inflammation, UV light, ultra-processed and processed food, smoking, passive smoking, tobacco, excessive alcohol, and certain medications.

Here are some out of many lifestyle tweaks you could make to age like fine wine:

1. Get your beauty sleep
Men and women, want to extend your life with quality years? Start investing in sleep. It is your anti-aging pill. No amount of anti-aging creams, collagen, and serums are ever going to work if your body and mind is sleep deprived. Lack of sleep creates inflammation, which leads to the formation of ROS (reactive oxygen species) in the body. ROS can destroy our skin, make us look older, cause pigmentation and premature graying, and cognitive decline, and several medical journals state the same.

2. Commit to happiness
The physiological state of a human being is to be happy. Top medical studies today are talking about how happiness and longevity are connected. Stress accelerates aging because of all the physiological changes it leads to in our bodies. Increased inflammation, weakened immune system, free radicals, and sleep disturbances to name a few. And while there is no way we can avoid stress in our life, we must find a way to cultivate happiness for ourselves in whatever way we can. Cultivating happiness starts with changing your perception of happiness. If you feel happiness equals no suffering, you will constantly be unhappy. It’s impossible to not have struggles. But, if you can feel happy despite struggles and obstacles, then it is true happiness. And, you always have a choice to feel that way.

3. Tap into your longevity gene
A gene called FOX3 is the no.1 gene when it comes to the fountain of youth and longevity. Not only that, but it is also responsible for cancer management and prevention by facilitating important processes like tumor suppression, cell apoptosis, and stem cell regeneration. What keeps the FOX3 gene healthy? Fasting. It is a great stimulus to activate this gene. And it doesn’t take crazy long hours of fasting to reap the benefits of fasting, but even short regular fasts like a 12-hour circadian rhythm fast can boost longevity and anti-aging. The fasting duration should be what suits you and your health.

In the pantry section, any foods that contain a compound called ‘quercetin’ like raw onions, green tea, apples, citrus fruits, berries, and cruciferous vegetables also help activate this longevity gene.

4. Eat for your DNA and genes
Think aging, think DNA. Poor DNA health has every connection with longevity. Nutrition is one of the major controllable factors for DNA and gene health. Certain foods like kiwi, carrots, good quality loose green and black tea leaves, pomegranates, and dark chocolate have been known to exhibit DNA protective abilities.

Many of us want to live a long and happy life. While it’s never a guarantee that all of us will live long, it doesn’t mean we stop putting in the effort. Yes, you live only once, but here’s to a graceful and abundant life ahead of us.

-Luke Coutinho, Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle – Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, Founder of You Care – All about YOU by Luke Coutinho.