The Science of Living Longer

Minnesota resident Evelyn Folstrom like to read, write letters to her great-great grandchildren, and spend time with her family. She likes to go to church and get out of the house to enjoy other activities, too.

She might need a little help getting around with a walker, but at 109 years old, that's OK with her. She's lived a rich life as a wife, mother, schoolteacher, switchboard operator. And she credits her longevity to a lifetime of healthy eating and never using alcohol or tobacco.

How long will you live? A growing number of people are living healthy and active lives past 100. What's the secret? Researchers believe decades of healthy lifestyle habits like eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress in healthy ways, and avoiding alcohol and tobacco makes a big difference.

While diet and lifestyle habits appear to have the biggest impact on longevity, researchers are looking at other ways to slow the aging process, repair cell damage, and reduce inflammation, to help prevent things like heart disease, age-related memory loss, certain types of cancer, and other conditions common with growing older.

"The idea is that if you can treat the underlying causes of aging, you can delay all of these things as a group," says Director of the American Federation for Aging Research Dr. Steven Austad. "That's a whole different way of thinking about medicine."

Besides recommending diet and lifestyle changes, future treatments to slow the aging process could include new medications currently being developed specifically to add life to your years and years to your life.

Experimental treatments and studies are currently underway to better understand what works to slow the aging process. So it's going to be a while before you can take a pill to slow the aging process.

Until then, exercise 30 to 60 minutes a day, get 7 to 8 hours of sleep a night, and eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods, which you'll find on our Senior-Friendly Menu.