Exercise can actually turn on specific genes to benefit your health and make your life better (less disease, less disability, more vigor). But it isn't your only tool for do-it-yourself genetic engineering. A diet devoid of unhealthy food felons, as well as stress management, keeps the disease-fighting and energy-giving genes turned on, too. Combine those with exercise and you can switch on a whopping 500 healthy genes. Here's how:
- Aim for 30 minutes of exercise a day. The guys who walked or otherwise worked out for 30 minutes six days a week in addition to following a smart, produce-packed diet actually switched on hundreds of healthy genes after three months. Keep in mind that the benefits begin within minutes of your first move. You don't have to wait 'til you've lost weight or inches to get real health benefits.
- Eat good-for-your-genes foods. That includes plenty of fruit, vegetables, and 100% whole grains, plus docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids, lean protein (e.g., soy or skinless chicken breast), and healthy protein, such as walnuts or macadamia nuts. A steady diet of full-fat dairy, red meat, sugar, syrups, and fried foods turn on energy-sapping, killer genes.
- Relax and say ahhhh. Daily stress soothers, such as yoga, meditation, and calm breathing, are part of the good-gene prescription. You can substitute anything else that tames tension, from simple stretching to laughing with friends or family. No kidding! A venti latte's no replacement for a power walk, but it turns out that straight black coffee also switches on your good genes.