Cameron Diaz Is on a Mission to Change the Way We Age

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If there was any question left about whether or not Cameron Diaz was serious about her health (and yours), her latest endeavor officially clears it upThe actress' last book—The Body Book—was way smarter than the average here-are-my-health-tips celeb memoir and her latest release, The Longevity Book: The Science of Aging, the Biology of Strength, and the Privilege of Time, continues that brainy legacy.

Photo: HarperWave

The book was inspired by some critical thinking on Diaz's part about what it means to age well. As she approached 40, Diaz began to encounter a societal fear of aging that was all about beauty standards and not so much about health. "[Journalists] started asking about my age, [but] they weren't wondering if I was afraid that my health might decline after forty....They were saying, 'Aren't you afraid that the death of your career is imminent because you don't look twenty-five anymore?'"

Instead of recommending anti-aging moisturizers in her book, the actress dove headfirst into the science and history of aging, teaming up once again with her writing partner, and best-selling author, Sandra Bark.

Along the way, they unpack the changes your cells undergo, what your telomeres are and why they matter (spoiler: they protect your DNA), the biological link between your gut and your health—and just how much of an impact you can actually have on your aging process with nutrition, sleep, and workouts. (It turns out, a lot.)

Reading this book will make you the person people want to sit next to at a dinner party.

But the biggest takeaway Diaz says she wants for The Longevity Book is the lesson that aging should be considered a normal life experience, and not an unfortunate downfall: "As long as I get to keep on aging, I'm pretty lucky," she explains. "Not everybody has the opportunity to grow old."

Between witty anecdotes from her personal life, and sweet encouragement to really value your friendships, family, and yourself, Diaz explores all facets of a woman's aging beauty and captures all the nitty, gritty science-y stuff you just wouldn't expect from the celeb. She'll also open your eyes to the reality that stressing over a stray grey hair may actually be the cause of it—and the simplicity of living a happy and beautiful life:

“The best way to age healthfully is to live fully. To take care of your body and your spirit in this moment, where you are now. You can spend your energy on love and not on worry. You can love the world, you can love the people around you, and you can love the person you have spent all these years becoming—yourself."

Move over Mary, there's something about Cameron, too—and we like it.

Here are Cameron Diaz's 6 most surprising and science-backed facts on how to age beautifully.

1. We're taught to be afraid of aging, but it happens the second you're born—not on your 30th birthday

If there’s one lesson that Diaz seems to really want to bring home about aging is that we’re taught to be afraid of it—and yet, it’s inevitable. "Right when your boobs were at their perkiest, when you weren’t thinking about getting older except maybe to turn twenty-one so you could get into bars and clubs legally, the aging process was starting to take hold deep with your body," Diaz wisely points out. Along with all those long days you spent on the beach, the occasions you forgot the sunscreen, those glasses of wine you drank, [and] how often you laughed, everything has "aged" your skin. Diaz instead says to focus on a process of living well and being happy—rather than on fear or anti-aging tactics.

2. Your attitude—not your moisturizer—is everything

One super interesting study that Diaz references shows how people who have a positive outlook about aging live approximately 7.5 years longer than their glass-is-half-empty peers. "Fearing aging, stressing over the symptoms of aging, and worrying about the downsides of age can actually make the aging process more challenging," explains the actress.

The same goes for your body: Another study conducted at Yale, Diaz shares, found that "people who were exposed to positive attitudes about aging actually showed improvements in physical ability, like how quickly they could walk. The kinds of benefits found in the study—which arose from just letting people know that aging with health and strength is possible—were comparable to the kind of gains usually seen from exercise."

3. Aging well is not always genetic

You may look at your mother or grandmother and count your lucky stars that they're aging so gracefully—or maybe you think the opposite. (No judgment.) Although genes can play a strong role in your looks and health, Diaz's research finds that "some genes are like light switches that can be flipped on or off by experience. Good nutrition, fitness, and low levels of stress may help flip off some of your genetic predispositions to disease, while smoking, eating poorly, and being sedentary may flip on your genes for disease." In other words, your actions have a lot of impact on your aging process.

4. 'Sleep when you're dead' is a terrible mantra

"Sleep is critical to health," Diaz explains, "and it is important to realize that we need a full night’s sleep—seven hours—not just bits and pieces." And while we all know that dark circles and puffiness are side effects of a bad night sleep and not ideal for looking your best, Diaz brings the did-you-know power with this alarming fact: missing sleep can exacerbate some skin disorders like eczema or rosacea and throw off your hormones that affect appetite, satiety, and more. In short, sleep should be up there with working out and eating well.

5. Buy a plane ticket to the Mediterranean

Although we feel like Diaz would strongly recommend you use every single vacation day, sticking to a Mediterranean diet of clean proteins, fresh veggies, olive oil, and a glass of wine—wherever you are—is a close second. While this is not ground-breaking information, Diaz references many convincing studies which a lot of diets don't have, from lowering your risk for Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, colon cancer, and stroke to improving cognitive function. Bonus points if you can cook with a friend (you know, like Gwyneth Paltrow).

6. Those laugh lines are worth it

Diaz tells the story of a time when she was at dinner with some girlfriends. At a table nearby was a group of women in their 50s and 60s who were laughing and chatting loudly, enjoying wine and each other’s company, and hardly noticing anyone around them—but her table couldn't stop commenting on how much they all were glowing. The friendships brought out their inner beauty, in a deep and true way, and gave them joy right back. At the end of the day, Diaz thinks of aging as the luckiest gift in the world: "Isn't that the point of all this self-care? To enjoy our lives. To enjoy our families and friends. To look forward to possibilities and improbabilities and the best surprises that life can bring." We couldn't agree more.

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