Did your parents always look young for their age? Well, just because they aged well doesn’t mean you will. That's because only about 5% of the aging process has to do with genetics. The rest is all about fighting so-called “aging triggers.” Here’s how to stay youthful-looking and prevent diseases like diabetes, courtesy of nutritionist Dr. Jonny Bowden, author of “The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer.”

  • First, limit your exposure to free radicals.Those are chemically unbalanced molecules that attack our cells and damage our DNA. They speed up aging and create defective cells which cause cancer. The top two ways to avoid free-radicals? Avoid smoking and slather your skin with SPF 30 sun block. Dr. Bowden also recommends loading up on blueberries and blackberries because they’re packed with antioxidants, which combat free-radicals.  

  • Another aging trigger to avoid: inflammation. It’s how your body responds to cuts and infections. It’s not all bad. Without the swelling, increased blood flow and influx of white blood cells, you wouldn’t heal! 

  • But constant inflammation causes your immune system to target even healthy cells, and is considered a major player in many diseases of aging, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. The fix? Follow a Mediterranean-style diet of whole grains, fruits and vegetables and fatty fish like tuna. Studies show that heart patients on a Mediterranean diet have much lower rates of heart attacks. 

  • And, Skip the sugar! A sugar packed diet will destroy the collagen and elastin in your skin, which leads to wrinkles, and dull, saggy skin. Sugar should be no more than 10% of your daily calories. For the average person that's about one can of regular soda – or six Hershey’s Kisses. Sugar is sneaky.