There is no fountain of youth, but these healthy foods can help you as you age.
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It's impossible to turn on the television, listen to the radio or flip through a magazine without coming across a product that relates to aging. Whether it's a lotion that prevents wrinkles or a roller that eases joint pain, the concept of aging, and more specifically anti-aging, is constantly brought to our attention (and if you feel like the pandemic has aged you, here are some tips to destress.) But what if we stopped searching for the elixir of life, and instead looked inward at the resources our body already has for healthy aging?

That's exactly what Dr. Sanjay Gupta did in his television series Chasing Life with Dr. Sanjay Gupta when he traveled to Okinawa, Japan. Okinawa is considered one of the five "Blue Zones", a concept created by Dan Buettner, a longevity expert who identified five locations that contained the healthiest and longest-living people. Buettner established that in Okinawa and the other four "Blue Zones," diet was an important part of living a long and healthy life.

In the episode, Gupta explains that the Okinawan diet contains many foods that can support aging and activate the body's longevity genes. "Hidden in all of our DNA is a gene called FOXO3. It can delay the aging process, but it has to be activated by the right foods," Gupta says, which is where the Okinawa diet comes into play.

Scientific reviews have found that the Okinawan diet is a healthy diet for aging and longevity as the foods often consumed can help reduce risk for cardiovascular disease, inflammation and more. Here are three foods the Okinawans eat frequently that could help activate your longevity genes, according to Gupta.

A silhouette of a woman on it eating with different amounts of scratches on them
Credit: Getty Images / nbstockphoto / Mufida Khalizaki / EyeEm / DigiPub / AdrianHillman

3 Foods to Activate Longevity Genes and Help You Live Longer

Seaweed

Seaweed comes in many forms, and the algae boasts some pretty impressive health benefits. It's packed with fiber, omega-3 fats and vitamins including A, C, E and B. Plus, seaweed is also high in minerals like magnesium, potassium, zinc and more. Consider eating seaweed in recipes like Seaweed Soup (Miyuk Guk) and Smoked Tofu & Vegetable Sushi Roll.

Algae

In addition to seaweed, other forms of algae are touted as essentials in the Okinawan diet and could activate the body's longevity genes. Growing algae is sustainable, and the health benefits are similar to seaweed. Scientific reviews have found that algae can help with inflammation, counteract the onset of osteoporosis and more.

Goya (bitter melon)

Goya, which is also known as bitter melon, is another staple. Dr. Gupta says, "There's a reason why foods like bitter melon have been preserved and passed down for generations in a place like Japan. They intuitively knew that this food was somehow good for you." In the episode, Gupta eats Goya Champuru, which is a stir fry featuring bitter melon, tofu, egg and pork belly.