Our basic premise is: Your body is amazing. You get a do-over; it doesn’t take that long, and isn’t that hard if you know what to do.
In these columns, we give you a short course in what to do. We want you to know how much control you have over your quality and length of life.
Today we want to introduce you to two things that will, if practiced with regularity, give you the energy you had 10 years ago: a “Slow-Down Workout” that includes stepping over the fence and white stork kicks up (fun exercises) and a little about longevity foods.
Most of us think that in order to have a great workout, you have to sweat like a poolside can of soda. But you can also effectively work your mind and body with a slow series of movements called chi-gong that will help improve your energy flow—that is, your life force that helps drive how you feel and how you age. It’s no wonder millions of people partake in this ancient practice daily in east Asia. In our chi-gong workout, you’ll get grounded and improve that intangible quality that makes you feel strong and centered (and younger). Some examples of moves:
Stepping Over the Fence
Inhale and deliberately shift your weight to the left until the right leg has no weight on it. Only lift your leg when it is weightless. Pretend your right hand is attached by a string to the right knee. With your hand over your knee and leg, exhale as you rotate your leg and arm to the right as if you’re stepping over a 1-foot fence. Slowly lower your heel, with your foot pointed out, and then rotate your foot frontward as you transfer weight to the right, repeating with your left side.
White Stork Kicks Up
Raise your hands in front of your body, while your elbows remain slightly bent and your hands cross each other in front of your body. Move them above your head, uncrossing them in a circular motion as you inhale. At the same time, lift your right knee, and as you kick out from the knee, start to exhale. Your foot should be flexed, kicking out with the heel. You should be kicking at a 45-degree angle, with your foot moving away from your straight left leg and raised up in the air like a stork. Straighten it as it’s rotated to the right. Your arms should move with your leg as you alternate sides.
Want more slow-down steps? We do these daily, and you can find more for free at RealAge.com. And now that you are getting some great mental and physical activity, let’s talk about the third aspect of health: food.
The Ultimate Longevity Food
Of course, food is nature’s best healing medicine or destructive drug, depending on what you eat. Throughout these columns, we’ll detail the foods and nutrients you should get to slow your rate of aging. You’ll come across ingredients like turmeric (and curcumin, spices found in Indian and curried foods; mustard also contains turmeric) and nutrients like quercetin (found in onions, tomatoes, garlic and apples). If the green kind is not your cup of tea, than maybe you’ll partake in the rhodeola vodka shot argued (with some data) to improve vitality in Siberia.
Since we’re limited by space, let us tell you about our favorite great anti-cancer longevity food: broccoli. We knew broccoli was good, but it just got another honor: A compound in it called sulforaphane was given the Golden Walnut Award for helping to protect your organs against blood sugar damage (just kidding—there is no such award, but read on anyway). Sulforaphane turns on anti-breast, prostate and colon cancer GSTM1 genes.
When your blood sugar (glucose) is chronically high, the cells of your heart, eyes, kidneys and nerves take a big hit. Hit after hit leads to permanent damage. But when researchers looked at what glucose would do to blood vessel cells in a petri dish, they saw that sulforaphane muzzled damage by as much as 73 percent.
If broccoli isn’t already on your “go-to” vegetables list, here are a few more good reasons (but not the only ones!) to put it there:
• It’s a potent cancer fighter. Scientists have seen compounds in this vegetable stop ovarian, colon, breast and prostate cancer cells from spreading (in a lab, and hopefully also in your body) by turning on your GSTM1 gene. That gene makes a protein that binds to and causes prostate, colon and breast cancer cells to commit suicide. It also cuts your risk of laryngeal cancer and inhibits other cancers.
• It’s rich in vitamin C and leutein, and high levels of those can cut your risk of eye damage.
• It tastes great, is inexpensive, is easy to cook (roast, sauté or steam it briefly with your favorite spices and a little canola oil enriched with DHA), and it’s easy to find all year. If you live with people who haven’t yet developed a taste for it, hide it in marinara or pesto pasta sauce.
The best way to cook it and keep it a shiny bright green is to shock it with cold air immediately after cooking. Don’t run it under water right after—it will absorb that water and taste and look mushy—but put it high up in a refrigerator on a rack so air can get to it. That stops the cooking and keeps it bright green. You can do this whether you steam, sauté or roast it. But to get the most from your broccoli, steam it to preserve its health-giving compounds, and eat it with a little fat to allow your body to absorb them best.
Now that you know how to do it, go do the Slow-Down Workout; it really is easy. And enjoy some broccoli (and apples, onions and inexpensive mustard) every day right afterward.
Michael F. Roizen, M.D., is a professor of internal medicine and anesthesiology, and chief wellness officer and chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., is a professor and vice chairman of surgery, as well as director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Integrated Medical Center at New York’s Presbyterian-Columbia University.
Roizen and Oz are the authors of the New York Times best-selling YOU series, including their recent releases, YOU Having a Baby, YOU Being Beautiful: The Owner’s Manual to Outer and Inner Beauty, and YOU On A Diet: the Owner’s Manual for Waist Management, now updated and revised with 100 more recipes (Free Press). Their goal: By the year’s end, you’ll have extended your body’s warranty with surefire anti-aging strategies that will, in their words, “give you more energy than a Labrador puppy.”
* Image courtesy of Barry Stein – BarryCreative.com