TIME Research

How Having Oily Skin Might Help Prevent Wrinkles

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And why wrinkles tend to be more noticeable around your eyes than on your forehead

Have you ever heard the old wives’ tale that people with oilier skin get fewer wrinkles? There may be some small grain of truth in that after all, according to a new study published in the journal Clinical Anatomy.

For the study, Japanese researchers analyzed the skin on the foreheads and around the eyes in cadavers aged 20 to 90 years old, looking at the wrinkles, the number of sebaceous glands (which are what secrete the skin’s oil), as well as the skin’s elasticity and density. In the end they found that the depth and length of wrinkles correlated to the amount of sebaceous glands in these areas, with areas with more glands tending to have wrinkles that weren’t as deep or long.

This may explain why wrinkles tend to be more noticeable around your eyes (hello, crow’s feet) than on your forehead, since there are more oil-secreting glands in the forehead than around your eyes.

While the authors say it’s possible that oilier skin (thanks to having more glands) prevents dry and deeper wrinkles from forming, the presence of the oil isn’t the only thing that seems to help keep skin smooth. It could also be that the skin on the areas with more glands tended to be thicker and have more elasticity. As the researchers put it: “Such properties will suppress the deformation of the skin.”

Another interesting finding: the density of oil glands was lower in women, than it was for the men, though they didn’t see a big difference in wrinkle depth between the sexes.

Ultimately, what matters more for your skin is the total picture: protecting yourself from the sun’s rays, exercise, eating a healthy diet with lots of foods that are good for your skin, and getting enough sleep.

But hey, if this makes you feel a little bit better about your oily skin, we won’t blame you.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME health

7 Habits of People Who Age Well

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Strong social ties can increase your chance of living longer

Exercise, diet—even attitude—can be as important as genetics when it comes to growing old gracefully. “Old age,” as Bette Davis once said, “is no place for sissies.” But that doesn’t mean you need to chicken out. Sure, growing older affects nearly every part of your body—including your hair, skin, heart, muscles, and more—but aging well may be as simple as adopting these (mostly) easy everyday habits.

1. Maintain a positive attitude.

You are what you think you are when it comes to aging. Seniors who think of age as a means to wisdom and overall satisfaction are more than 40 percent more likely to recover from a disability than those who see aging as synonymous with helplessness or uselessness, according to The Journal of the American Medical Association.

2. Watch what you eat…

Nutrition plays a major role in how your body ages. “The latest research shows that a low-glycemic diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein is healthiest,” says Dr. Jeffrey Benabio, Physician Director of Healthcare Transformation at Kaiser Permanente Primary Care. One great example is the Mediterranean diet, rich in plant-based foods, whole grains, nuts, and red wine (in moderation!). It also involves eating fish twice each week and cutting back on salt. Research shows that this type of diet may help you age better by warding off heart attacks, strokes, and premature death, according to Harvard Medical School. An added bonus: Benabio says that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, salmon, and flaxseed, help your skin manufacture the essential oils it needs to protect itself and can help skin look younger. In contrast, sugary, carbohydrate-heavy, and fatty foods—think, chips, soda, and white bread—can speed up the aging process, says Benabio. “So, when shopping or dining out, opt for whole grains and natural sweeteners,” he says.

3. …And how much you eat.

Overeating may lead to a shorter life span, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes, according to the NIH. To age well and live longer, it’s best to stick to a balanced diet that consists of about 2.5 cups of vegetables, 1.5 to two cups of fruit, six ounces of grains, three cups of dairy, and five ounces of protein each day.

4. Exercise regularly.

Staying active is a vital part of aging well. The average woman can lose 23 percent of her muscle mass between ages of 30 and 70, says Fabio Comana, a faculty instructor at the National Academy of Sports Medicine. You lose muscle more rapidly as you age, but exercise—resistance workouts in particular—can increase mass and strength, even well into your 90s, says Comana. Staying fit may also reduce age-related memory loss, according to a study published in the journal Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience. Plus, Alzheimer’s disease accounts for approximately 60 to 70 percent of all dementia cases, says Comana, adding that increasing physical activity can decrease this statistic by 25 percent. That’s because exercise strengthens the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with learning.

5. Stay social.

Friends and relatives can help you live longer. Those of us with strong social ties were shown to have a 50 percent higher chance of living longer than those with poor or insufficient relationships, according to a study published in the journal PLoS Medicine.

6. Protect your skin from the sun.

Too much time in the sun can cause wrinkles, not to mention cancer. But wearing sunscreen can help prevent your skin’s aging. And while the sun’s UV rays do trigger vitamin D production, which is essential for bone health, that’s hardly a good reason to expose yourself. “Here are the facts,” Benabio says. “After a few minutes of sun, your skin stops making vitamin D…and starts making skin cancer.” Most people get plenty of Vitamin D, but if you think you’re not, try eating more salmon or even eggs (don’t skip the yolk).

7. Get plenty of sleep.

You probably know that you should snooze for seven to nine hours each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation. But did you know that not sleeping enough may mean a higher risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Plus, naps can improve memory and even help make up for missing nightly Zzs. And it turns out that “beauty sleep” isn’t a myth. During sleep, your body releases a growth hormone that helps restore collagen and elastin, the essential building blocks of young, healthy skin, says Benabio. Recent studies have also shown a connection between insomnia and accelerated aging of the brain, Benabio says. In other words, chronic lack of sleep adversely affects your brain’s function and speeds up the aging process. “Too many of us treat sleep as a luxury instead of a need,” says Benabio. “If I could encourage people do make one healthy change this year, it would be to sleep more.”

This article originally appeared on Real Simple

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MONEY Aging

How Obama Plans to Save Your Retirement

President Barack Obama speaks during the 2015 White House Conference on Aging 150714_RET_obama
Saul Loeb—Getty Images President Barack Obama speaks during the 2015 White House Conference on Aging

At a once-per-decade conference, the White House unveils an action plan some aging experts believe is ho-hum.

With Americans living longer than ever, medical experts recently updated their definition for the oldest of the old—they’re now people past the age of 90, up from 85. This group, along with retirees in general, is now firmly in the sights of government as it seeks to meet the needs of an aging population.

That message was at the heart of just about every panel discussion at Monday’s White House Conference on Aging, a once-per-decade gathering meant to “look ahead to the issues that will help shape the landscape for older Americans.” It’s a worthy topic. Longevity is changing the economic and social picture for everyone. But not all are happy with what seems like a stale approach.

Rather than focusing on things like eldercare and health problems, leaders in this area should be addressing ways to keep seniors active and “debunk the myths and stigma of aging,” Michael Hodin, executive director of the Global Council on Aging, writes in his blog.

Granted, issues surrounding caregiving and the financial exploitation of seniors must be examined. But keeping aging Americans productive—not dependent—is a challenge that calls for being proactive. Likewise, leaders need to adopt an innovative approach to education and saving. They must rethink the whole notion of retirement in a world where young people will have few safety nets, may work 60 years, and will be required to reinvent themselves over and over.

These themes weren’t missing entirely from the conference. Andy Sieg, head of global wealth and retirement solutions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, spoke of the importance of paying off college loans and beginning to save early in life. Both of those are Millennials’ issues and by definition require taking far-sighted steps.

Robin Diamonte, chief investment officer at United Technologies, further spoke to the long-term savings issue when she said at her company “we are auto everything-ing,” a nod to the vital role that automatic enrollment of new employees in 401(k) plans and automatic escalation of contributions can play.

Still, the dominant themes of the conference focused on coping with old age and failing cognitive and general health, along with elders’ financial pressures. The best measure of a society is how it treats its older citizens, President Obama said, using the occasion to champion his legacy. Obamacare has extended the solvency of the Medicare trust fund by 13 years and helped nine million seniors save $15 billion on prescription drugs, he said. He called out Congress for not passing a tax-advantaged federal savings program for workers not eligible for an employer sponsored plan—the “auto IRA”. And he promised that by year-end he would roll out “a path for states” to offer such plans.

Also on Obama’s priority list are programs to educate prosecutors about elder abuse, upgrade nursing home facilities and promote flexible work schedules for family members who are caregivers. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell announced $35.7 million of funding for “geriatric workforce training” to raise the quality of both family and paid caregiving.

Pointing up the critical role that private employers must play in solving longevity issues, Sieg announced that Merrill Lynch would begin working with benefits and human resources professionals at 35,000 companies, offering up the latest gerontology research around continued employment and other retiree issues. Merrill is believed to be the only major bank with an executive gerontologist on staff.

A panel on financial security noted that the biggest obstacles to a secure retirement for all include expanding the popular concept of retirement to include productive engagement, getting people to save early, and finding ways to convert lifetime savings into lifetime income with easy low-fee annuities. These, at least, are proactive ideas—and that’s where the real solutions lie.

Read next: Here’s What You Can Really Expect from Social Security

TIME Diet/Nutrition

10 Foods That Make You Look Younger

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These foods pack the building blocks of healthy hair and skin

You can head off a lot of your most common beauty concerns simply by downing the right foods. That’s right—eating well not only does wonders for your waistline and bolsters your immune system but can also provide some very real get-gorg benefits, such as smoothing wrinkles, giving hair a glossy shine and strengthening flimsy nails. “Your diet directly affects your day-to-day appearance and plays a significant role in how well you age,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD. The smart approach, Dr. Zeichner says, is to create a plan that includes what he calls “the building blocks of healthy skin and hair”—nutrients, minerals and fatty acids—as well as antioxidants to protect your body from damaging environmental stresses. Get ready to nab some beauty-boosting perks by tossing these essential face-saving edibles into your grocery cart.

Coffee

Grabbing some java every morning doesn’t just jump-start your day—that cup of joe has bioactive compounds that may help protect your skin from melanoma (the fifth most common cancer in the U.S.), according to a recent report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Researchers found that the more coffee people downed, the less likely they were to get the disease: Those drinking four cups daily had a 20 percent lower risk of developing malignant melanoma over a 10-year period than non-coffee drinkers.

Watermelon

The summertime fave is loaded with lycopene. “This antioxidant compound gives watermelon and tomatoes their red color—and helps skin stave off UV damage,” says nutrition pro Keri Glassman, RD, founder of NutritiousLife.com. Researchers believe that the melon contains as much as 40 percent more of the phytochemical than raw tomatoes; that’s the equivalent of an SPF 3, so use it to bolster (not replace) your daily dose of sunscreen.

Pomegranates

The seeds of this wonder fruit are bursting with antioxidants, like vitamin C, that prevent fine lines, wrinkles and dryness by neutralizing the free radicals that weather skin. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that higher vitamin C intake lessened the likelihood of dryness and wrinkles in middle-aged women. Also in the fruit’s arsenal: anthocyanins (which help increase collagen production, giving skin a firmer look) and ellagic acid (a natural chemical that reduces inflammation caused by UV damage).

Blueberries

Boost radiance by popping some of these plump little beauties. Blueberries supply vitamins C and E (two antioxidants that work in tandem to brighten skin, even out tone and fight off free-radical damage), as well as arubtin, “a natural derivative of the skin lightener hydroquinone,” Dr. Zeichner says.

Lobster

High in zinc, shellfish has anti-inflammatory properties that can help treat a range of skin annoyances, acne included. “Zinc accelerates the renewal of skin cells,” says Whitney Bowe, MD, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “That’s why you find the nutrient in many acne medications.” In fact, research shows that people with acne have lower levels of zinc than people with clear skin.

Kale

On the long list of this leafy green‘s nutrients are vitamin K (it promotes healthy blood clotting, so the blood vessels around the eyes don’t leak and cause Walking Dead-like shadows) and loads of iron. “Insufficient levels of iron in your diet can cause your skin to look pale, making it easier to spot blood vessels under the skin,” explains Howard Murad, MD, associate clinical professor of medicine at UCLA. To max out the benefits, eat the veggie cooked, not raw.

Eggs

Your fingernails (toenails, too) are made of protein, so a deficiency can turn those talons soft. Keep yours thick and mani-pedi-ready by cracking smart: “Eggs are a good source of biotin, a B complex vitamin that metabolizes amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein,” says Frank Lipman, MD, director of Eleven-Eleven Wellness Center in New York City.

Walnuts

Omega-3 fatty acids (found in the natural oils that keep your hair hydrated) and vitamin E (which helps repair damaged follicles) are two secrets behind strong, lustrous strands—and these nuts are full of both, Dr. Lipman says. All you need is 1/4 cup a day. What’s more, walnuts are packed with copper, which will help keep your natural color rich: Studies show that being deficient in the mineral may be a factor in going prematurely gray.

Avocado

Like you need another reason to love them: These rich fruits are high in oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that helps skin retain moisture in the outer layer to keep it soft, plump and supple, Dr. Bowe says.

Cantaloupe

The sweet melon contains beta carotene, or vitamin A, which is believed to regulate the growth of skin cells on your scalp and sebum in the skin’s outer layer, Dr. Zeichner says. This keeps pores from getting clogged and causing flakes.

Pop a pill to get pretty

Hearing more about beauty supplements? Nutraceuticals, as they’re called, are big news right now—and with good reason. “There is clinical proof that some of these supplements, which are basically a preformulated set of ingredients, really work,” notes Joshua Zeichner, MD. Here are four worth downing.

Biomarine complex

A lot of interesting stuff is lurking beneath the sea, according to Dr. Zeichner, who points to a study in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology showing that a supplement containing marine protein powder, along with other nutrients and vitamins, helped regenerate skin cells in the scalp, resulting in increased hair growth after 90 days. Go fish! A good source: Viviscal Extra Strength Dietary Supplements, $39; walmart.com.

Probiotics

To get healthy skin, you need a healthy gut. “Oral probiotics, filled with ‘good’ bacteria, help maintain a balance between good and bad bacteria in your system to help your body dial down the inflammation that can trigger a host of skin problems, including acne, rosacea and dandruff,” says Whitney Bowe, MD. A good source: Align Probiotic Supplements, $29; drugstore.com.

Green tea extract

By now you know there’s a great deal this bionic brew can offer—yep, younger-looking skin, too. Double down on the benefits by adding a supplement to your daily sips: “The high concentration of polyphenols, powerful antioxidants found in green tea, help make skin more resistant to UV damage that leads to premature aging,” says Frank Lipman, MD. A good source: Vitamin World Super Strength Green Tea Extract, $26; vitaminworld.com.

This article originally appeared on Health.com

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TIME Science

How Aging Affects Athletic Performance

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As they age, many athletes complain about their ability to recover

I remember the moment a few years ago while watching TV when I realized that if I were riding in the Tour de France, at age 42 I’d be the oldest person in the race. It hit me that my dream of racing in cycling’s biggest event was over…it was not going to happen.

Not that I’d been competing, let alone training seriously, on the bike for a number of years.

Or that not even in my “prime” years for competitive cycling would I have been good enough. It’s just that now I had an excuse…. I was too old, too far past my prime years.

So what happened? Is there a physiological reason people in their mid-40’s are no longer able to compete at the professional level in most sports, or is it a constellation of challenges, such as the time devoted to training, motivation, managing kids’ schedules or busy work demands?

“I’m old” is the common refrain for why we get worse at athletics as we age. But here’s what’s really happening in the body through the years to make world-class performance less possible. And, interestingly, there are a few physiological elements that contribute to athleticism that don’t seem as affected by aging.

The ‘sweet-spot’ age

In most sports, there is an age “sweet spot,“ at which the combination of physical, technical and strategic abilities comes together.

In most sports, this age sweet spot falls in the mid-20’s to early 30’s. Although there have been numerous examples of Olympians competing, and sometimes winning medals, over the age of 50, the vast majority of these come from sports requiring exceptional skill and less aerobic or anaerobic power, such as the shooting events, sailing, equestrian and fencing.

For endurance events, the upper cap for competing at the sport’s highest levels appears to be around the age of 40.

Chris Horner won the 2013 edition of the Vuelta a Espana, Spain’s version of the Tour de France, just shy of his 42nd birthday, making him the oldest winner of a Grand Tour in cycling.

The oldest Olympic marathon winner was the 38-year-old Romanian athlete Constantina Dita Tomescu, competing at the Beijing Olympic Games.

Dara Torres, at the age of 41 in 2008, is the oldest swimmer to compete in the history of the Olympics, missing the gold medal in the 50-meter freestyle by hundredths of a second. But these examples are the exceptions, not the rule.

Age changes how our bodies use oxygen

One big reason we see declines in aerobic (or endurance) athletic performance with age is that our bodies can’t use oxygen as effectively.

The maximal ability to utilize oxygen (VO2max) is a predictor of endurance performance across ages. VO2max is a numerical value that describes how much oxygen your body can use per kilogram of body weight.

VO2max is affected by how well your body can bring oxygen into the lungs, how well this is carried in our blood to the working muscles, and how much oxygen the muscles can use to fuel contraction.

Exercise can improve all of these, and the higher the VO2max, the more “aerobically fit” a person is. That is, they can do more endurance work for their body weight.

In the general population, VO2max tends to decline by about 10% per decade after the age of 30. Athletes who continue to compete and train hard can reduce the drop by about half, to 5% per decade after the age of 30.

The reason VO2max declines with age is that our maximal heart rates go down as well.

Maximal heart rate is the highest heart rate in beats per minute one can achieve during increasing intensity of endurance exercise. It is often roughly predicted as “220 – age = maximal heart rate.” Although the actual maximal heart rate for a given person is highly variable, as you age, your maximal heart rate decreases, whether you are a highly fit athlete or a couch potato.

And this decrease reduces both cardiac output and oxygen delivery to the muscles, which translates to a lower VO2max and thus to lower performance in endurance events as we age.

Even if oxygen delivery to muscles goes down, the ability of your muscles to efficiently utilize the oxygen they do get relative to a given workload (this is called exercise economy) is well maintained into our 60’s and 70’s, though total muscle mass tends to decline as we age, and can contribute to declines in performance as well.

In terms of competitive endurance exercise, rowers have shown the least decline in VO2max with age, but the difference to other sports isn’t huge. And it might be because rowing is a lower-impact sport than cycling (with crashes) and running (constant pounding).

Let’s not forget the muscles

Some evidence suggest that for sports that require high levels of strength or power, like weightlifting, age-related limitations may reside in our skeletal muscles, those muscles that move our bones and joints.

For competitive weightlifters over the age of 40 (masters level), performance drops more precipitously than it does for endurance athletes such as runners, swimmers and cyclists. That’s likely because weightlifting draws on type II muscle fibers (called “fast-twitch” muscles) to produce strength and power. Research indicates that these cells decline in number and function with age.

Not only do these cells decline with age, but so do the cells that support the repair and growth of skeletal muscles in response to exercise decline.

These age-related declines are not as obvious in type I muscles, those muscle fibers most associated with endurance-type exercise.

Recovery can take longer

As they age, many athletes complain that the ability to recover from hard bouts of exercise diminishes.

This can affect the intensity and volume of training of all athletes. But in many contact sports, such as professional American football or rugby, recovering from injuries and the cumulative effects of hard hits becomes the limiting factor in continuing to play at the highest level.

For instance, last season there were only two people in the NFL, Sav Rocca of the Washington Redskins and Adam Vinatieri of the Indianapolis Colts, playing in their 40’s.

Injuries take their toll on people playing non-contact sports as well. For masters athletes, experiencing more training-associated injuries leads to reduced training intensity and volume, and thus poorer performance come race day.

Better training can help you stay at your peak longer

Although all athletes will eventually lose the age versus performance race, with better training and recovery practices, in the coming years we likely will begin to see more athletes in their 40’s remaining competitive at the highest levels of sport. By “training smarter, not harder,” athletes can reduce the chances of injuries, maximize gains from training and minimize the effects of aging.

Older athletes need longer to recover and adapt to a training stimulus, so workout planning needs to change with age.

High-intensity interval training, for instance, focuses on the quality of a workout, rather than the sheer volume of training, and can be used effectively by older athletes to improve aerobic capacity.

Cross-training, such as weightlifting and yoga, can help to maintain muscle mass and flexibility, and reduce overuse injuries in endurance athletes.

An emphasis on “active recovery” strategies (an easy run or swim on your rest days) and improved sleeping habits are important for athletes of all ages, but become essential for older athletes.

Performance decline isn’t just about physical changes, however. As we age, our intrinsic motivation to train diminishes. Even in athletes, the motivation to train may shift somewhat from setting personal records to remaining active and healthy. And that’s a great motivation for any athlete at any age.The Conversation

Christopher Minson is Professor at University of Oregon.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY financial advice

The Painful Secret to Retirement Success

The co-founders of retirement and investment analytics firm BrightScope share the secret of a well-funded retirement.

BrightScope co-founders (and brothers) Mike and Ryan Alfred say saving is the most important thing you can do for your retirement. Start saving early and start saving a lot—way more than the 5% or 6% that workers put in their 401(k) to get an employer match. Ryan, president and chief operating officer, said he knows it can be hard to start saving when you’re young and just started a career, but he thinks you should start saving a little bit and try to increase how much you save each year.

TIME Dalai Lama

Exclusive: The Dalai Lama Talks About Pope Francis, Aging and Heartbreak With TIME

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Matt Dunham—AP The Dalai Lama stands on stage before making a speech to an audience at the ESS Stadium in Aldershot, England, on June 29, 2015

On the morning of his 80th birthday

On Monday, the morning of his 80th birthday, His Holiness the Dalai Lama sat down with TIME in Anaheim, Calif. The Tibetan spiritual leader shared his advice on growing old and mending a broken heart and talked about maybe meeting Pope Francis. Below are excerpts from the conversation, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

The gap between the Tibet cause in exile and the situation on the plateau is widening. Some say that your message — which is so cheerful, hopeful, and, as we see here in Anaheim, appeals to upper-middle-class Westerners — is so counter to the situation on the ground in Tibet, where some feel that the exile government isn’t doing enough for Tibetan Buddhists themselves. How do you see that tension, and its future?
It seems that regardless of how much censorship they impose, the people in Tibet do seem to be able to get the news … Inside Tibet, is physically distant … but there’s a few who get some information, then that spreads … There are organizations, their main responsibility is to look after the Tibetan refugee community, their education, and also the way for preservation of our own culture, mainly, and monastic institutions, to carry our tradition and culture — I think quite sophisticated knowledge about the tradition. So then we are not representing, directly, inside Tibet. We have no direct responsibility like that, so by the way, say in our last, I think, 30 years, many Tibetans have the opportunity to come to India and join our school. … So then after they get some education level, they return, they carry [that] inside Tibet … Then these people now carry the main responsibility for teaching … More of these connections are taking place on the personal, individual level, organic process, not so much through the centralized institution.

You have not yet met Pope Francis, correct? If you could have a meeting with Pope Francis, what would you want to talk with him about?
Yes, not yet … Recently he also has been showing genuine concern about the environment. Wonderful. A spiritual leader should speak — these are global issues. So I admire [him].

MORE: Pope Francis Urges Climate-Change Action in Encyclical

How do you find sense of purpose as you age, especially if you live in a Western society that values youth?
I believe in also telling people, when you are young is its own special beauty, doing active things. Then, getting older, its own beauty, more experience to share with other people. One time in Sweden, I noticed, one small group of people, they have some kind of program, those retired people should take more active role taking care of young children. I think that is very good. Old people play, mixing with young children, the old people themselves feel something fresh. Sometimes, children see more love with grandparent rather than parent, that also happens. So I think children may do not attraction external beauty, old people, no longer any beauty, but smile, play, make joke, some sort of short stories, then children looked at. So if you age but then still feel bitter because you are not able to lots of things you could do when you were young, that is total, silly, unrealistic. Of course, the wider experience, the young people, youth, cannot do that — not yet.

I don’t know if you’ve ever been in love, but I’m wondering — how do you heal a broken heart?
Actually, you see, practice celibacy … If you look at the nature of strong attachment, underlying that strong attachment is a clinging, grasping, and if you look at other reactive emotions that arise, actually it is strong attachment that underpins hatred, anger, jealousy, and so on, so if you somehow are able to look at this and recognize that a large part of the reception is perception, that could lose some of this strong grasping. I always remember, in a dream, if … a beautiful woman or something like that, I remember I am a monk. It is very helpful.

And if you aren’t a monk?
I think the desire for sex goes extreme, always creates some trouble. So that I think, in Western culture, there is a lot of emphasis on sensuality, and sexuality is part of that.

TIME Aging

Here’s Why You May Be Aging Faster Than Your Friends

Researchers zero in on more than a dozen factors that can predict how fast you’re aging — and have some ideas about what makes people age more slowly

We all have friends who were born in the same year but look years younger (or older) than we do. Now researchers say that such perceptions aren’t just about outward appearances but about something deeper—the different pace at which each of us ages, and what that means for our health.

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists led by Daniel Belsky, an assistant professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine’s division of geriatrics, describe a panel of 18 measures tested in 20- and 30-year olds that showed how quickly they are aging. The markers proved to be a good indicator of physiological age; they mirrored the biological effects of aging found in older people. But they were also good markers of physical age, meaning that those who aged faster also looked older, according to unbiased assessments by random people looking at their photos.

MORE: The Cure for Aging

Most studies on aging, and the factors that affect aging, come from investigations of older populations, says Belsky. And in most cases, the chronic diseases or physiological changes that come with aging are already well established in these groups. But it’s clear that aging doesn’t happen overnight; rather, it occurs gradually over a period of decades, much like water affects the shape of riverbanks or stones over time. It’s not obvious on a day-to-day basis, but can be dramatic if several years have passed.

In the study, 954 people born in 1972 or 1973 in Dunedin, New Zealand, agreed to participate in a study that followed them from age 26 to age 38. Each participant agreed to be tested on a range of 18 different factors that earlier studies have linked to aging, including blood pressure, lung function, cholesterol, body mass index, inflammation and the integrity of their DNA. Based on their scores on these measures, researchers calculated a biological age for each volunteer. They did this again when the people in the study were 32 and 38 years old, and combined them to calculate the pace at which each person was aging.

MORE: This Diet Has Been Linked to a Longer Life—Again

Some people were biologically older and aging faster than others, despite being the same chronological age. Not only that, but the researchers showed, by giving the 20- and 30-somethings the same tests of balance and thinking skills that gerontologists give for older adults, that these aging changes were the same as those occurring later in life.

Though some people really were biologically older than they are, the good news is that some were younger than their chronological age and aging more slowly than they should be. Comparing the slower and faster aging groups should reveal some hints about how to keep aging in check. And of the factors that influence aging, says Belsky, the vast majority, as much as 80%, aren’t genetic and therefore well within our control. (Even the 20% that’s DNA-based is modifiable to some extent.) “This is just the beginning,” he says. “The next step is to figure out what knowing this information helps us to do. One of the things it can help us do is identify the causes of accelerated aging so that we might slow it down. And the other thing it can help us do is evaluate therapies that slow down aging.”

MORE: Eat Better and Stress Less: It’ll Make Your Cells (and Maybe You) Live Longer

Having a way to measure, relatively accurately, the pace at which people age provides a good way of tracking whether any anti-aging treatment works or not. Some of those keys to youth likely won’t be surprising; given the 18 factors that the scientists studied, they will probably involve habits like having a healthy diet that’s low in fat and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, having a strong immune system and getting regular exercise. Not smoking, or quitting smoking may also play a role. To find out, Belsky says he will continue to follow the study group and re-evaluate them again when they are 45. The researchers are charting the participants’ diet, exercise and other behaviors. “We can start to evaluate which behaviors are working to slow down aging,” he says, by seeing which changes slow down the pace of aging. “It’s a tremendous opportunity to begin to sort things out.”

MONEY Social Security

This Surprising Sign May Tell You When to Claim Social Security

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Liam Norris—Getty Images

For aging Americans, the condition of your skin can be a barometer of your overall health and longevity.

Skin is in, and not just for beach-going millennials. For boomers and older generations, the condition of your skin, especially your facial appearance, is a barometer of your overall health and perhaps your life expectancy, scientists say. And as the population ages—by 2020 one in seven people worldwide will be 60 or above—dollars are pouring into research that may eventually link your skin health to your retirement finances.

What does your skin condition have to do with your health and longevity? A skin assessment can be a surprisingly accurate window into how quickly we age, research shows. Beyond assessing your current health, these findings can also be used as to gauge your longevity. This estimate, based on personalized information and skin analysis, may be more reliable than a generic mortality table.

All of which has obvious implications for financial services companies. One day the condition of your skin—your face, in particular—may determine the rate you pay for life insurance, what withdrawal rate you choose for your retirement accounts, and the best age to start taking Social Security.

Skin health is also a growing focus for consumer and health care companies, which have come to realize that half of all people over 65 suffer from some kind of skin ailment. Nestle, which sees skin care as likely to grow much faster than its core packaged foods business, is spending $350 million this year on dermatology research. The consumer products giant also recently announced it would open 10 skin care research centers around the world, starting with one in New York later this year.

Smaller companies are in this mix as well. A crowd funded start-up venture just unveiled Way, a portable and compact wafer-like device that scans your skin using UV index and humidity sensors to detect oils and moisture and analyze overall skin health. It combines that information with atmospheric readings and through a smartphone app advises you when to apply moisturizers or sunscreen.

This is futuristic stuff, and unproven as a means for predicting how many years you may have left. I recently gave two of these predictive technologies a spin—with mixed results. The first was an online scientist-designed Ubble questionnaire. By asking a dozen or so questions—including how much you smoke, how briskly you walk and how many cars you own—the website purports to tell you if you will die within the next five years. My result: 1.4% chance I will not make it to 2020. Today I am 58.

The second website was Face My Age, which is also designed by research scientists. After answering short series of questions about marital status, sun exposure, smoking and education, you upload a photo to the site. The tool then compares your facial characteristics with others of the same age, gender, and ethnicity. The company behind the site, Lapetus Solutions, hopes to market its software to firms that rely heavily on life-expectancy algorithms, such as life insurers and other financial institutions.

Given the fledgling nature of this technology, it wasn’t too surprising that my results weren’t consistent. My face age ranged between 35 and 52, based on tiny differences in where I placed points on a close-up of my face. These points help the computer identify the distance between facial features, which is part of the analysis. In all cases, though, my predicted expiration age was 83. I’m not taking that too seriously. Both of my grandmothers and my mother, whom I take after, lived well past that age—and I take much better care of my health than they ever did.

Still, the science is intriguing, and it’s not hard to imagine vastly improved skin analysis in the future. While a personalized, scientific mortality forecast might offer a troublesome dose of reality, it would at least help navigate one of the most difficult financial challenges we face: knowing how much money we need to retire. A big failing of the 401(k) plan—the default retirement portfolio for most Americans—is that it does not guarantee lifetime income. Individuals must figure out on their own how to make their savings last, and to be safe they should plan for a longer life than is likely. That is a waste of resources.

I plan to live to 95, my facial map notwithstanding. But imagine if science really could determine that my end date is at 83, give or take a few years. It would be weird, for sure. But I’d have a good picture of how much I needed to save, how much I could spend, and whether delaying Social Security makes any sense. I’m not sure we’ll ever really be ready for that. But not being ready won’t stop that day from coming.

Read next: This Problem is Unexpectedly Crushing Many Retirement Dreams

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Here’s a Secret to Living Longer You May Not Like

healthiest foods, health food, diet, nutrition, time.com stock, swiss chard, greens, vegetables
Danny Kim for TIME

You have to cut those calories

Want to live longer? Eat a little less.

At least that’s what a growing body of research suggests. A new study published Thursday showed that occasionally adopting a diet that mimics fasting could slow aging.

In the study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, the researchers looked at the effectiveness of periodic fasting on aging-related factors in yeast, mice and humans. The results showed occasionally cutting back on calories improved health, notably in areas that worsen with age. In the mice study, the researchers had the mice consume a four-day low-calorie diet that mimics fasting (FMD) and found that it improved their metabolism, decreased bone loss, improved cognitive function, lowered cancer incidence and extended their longevity.

Humans underwent three monthly cycles of a five day diet that mimics fasting and the researchers noted a drop in risk factors related to aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer.

The goal of the diet is to cut individuals calories down to between 34-54% of their normal consumption. For humans the diet comes out to about five days of a 750-1,050 calories per day, with very specific amounts of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and micronutrients. “[It] looks like a low calorie plant-based diet but, in fact, [it] is designed to turn on stem cells and trigger regenerative effects and beneficial changes in many risk factors for aging and diseases,” says study author Valter Longo, director of the USC Longevity Institute.

The diet also decreased the amount of the growth hormone IGF-1 which is important for early development, but too much of it has been shown to spur faster aging.

Longo’s research is not the first to suggest occasional fasting could lead to a longer life. As TIME reported in February, several experts recommend intermittent fasting and some argue that a eating a diet with 25% fewer calories a day could lead to a longer life. Animal studies have shown promise, and human studies have shown that eating fewer calories can lower heart disease risk and impact longevity.

“I only eat a light breakfast, a full size dinner and a snack—all plant based and low proteins,” says Longo. “We believe everyone else will need to go on a diet like this more frequently. For example, someone obese with elevated fasting glucose and a family history of cancer may benefit from being on the 5-day FMD once per month.”
Longo says undergoing such a diet must be approved and supervised by a physician or registered dietitian.
Two of the study authors have equity interest in a medical food company called L-Nutra, which makes products that claim to “reduce markers associated with aging,” but neither author had a role in the data analysis.

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