A few months ago, I turned 40. Growing up, I always thought 40 was SO OLD! This big birthday didn’t affect me too much but I suddenly became quite aware that I am closer to some pretty major health changes affected by aging. And I want to do everything I can to prevent premature aging.
Luckily for me, I have been pretty diligent in attending to my health. I’ve been told all through my adult life that I look 5-8 years younger than I am (thank you Grandma, for forcing me to start applying your Oil of Olay face lotion when I was 10). But premature aging affects everything about you, not just your skin.
So, if you haven’t been so diligent until now, no worries – you can start adding in these easy ‘hacks’ to prevent premature aging now.
The Science Behind Aging
SENESCENCE or biological aging is the gradual deterioration of functional characteristics. The word senescence can refer either to cellular aging or to deterioration of the whole organism. I don’t know about you, but the word “deterioration is kind of scary, right?
The fact is, we’re aging from the moment we’re born.
Our bodies do a wonderful job of regeneration through our youth but there comes a point in our lives when the aging process begins to win over the rebuilding activities. We can, however, definitely support the anti-aging functions through good nutritional choices, proper supplementation, and healthy lifestyle behaviours.
And, remember that every person’s aging process is going to look a little bit different.
While the Internet likes to tell us to simply embrace the aging process, I, for one, would love to slow it down as much as possible…naturally, of course. And, to me, this doesn’t mean spending hundreds of dollars on expensive creams and lotions and miracle potions. We CAN naturally prevent premature aging with some super simple, completely natural methods.
The Aging Process & Your Hormones
Before we dive into the 10 hacks, it’s a good idea to understand what might cause premature aging. Besides lifestyle and nutrition factors, your hormones can either promote or prevent premature aging.
The Anti-Aging Hormones:
DHEA: This hormone is a steroid hormone made by your adrenals. DHEA is changed into testosterone and estrogen. Testosterone is important for sex drive, muscle mass and bone density. Besides its reproductive health properties, estrogen is important for bone, heart and brain health.
Estrogen: This important hormone helps keep your skin elastic. As women age, the natural drop in estrogen causes thinning skin, wrinkling and sagging. This is because less collagen and elastin are produced by the ovaries. Plus, estrogen helps maintain skin cell hydration, which keeps skin looking healthier.
Progesterone: Like estrogen, progesterone helps keep skin glowing and hydrated. It’s also important for skin elasticity and circulation of blood to the skin.
Growth Hormone: This important hormone, like its name implies, is important for regeneration of cells and keeping skin elastic and supple.
The Pro-Aging Hormones:
Insulin: Our bodies naturally produce insulin in response to glucose metabolism. However, too much processed carbs, sugar, junk or grains can keep insulin levels chronically high, eventually leading to insulin resistance. Insulin, if kept unchecked, can lead to wrinkles.
Cortisol: High levels of your main stress hormone, cortisol, lead to lowered levels of collagen production, wrinkles, sagging and lack of lustre in the skin.
10 Hacks to Help Keep You Looking Young
These ‘hacks’ truly are super simple to add to your daily routine. I highly recommend you practice all 10 if you want to reduce the aging process.
#1: Stay hydrated
The plumper your cells are, the younger they look. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer that staying hydrated is important for both inner and outer beauty. Pure, filtered water is your best choice to keep your body hydrated, but hydration also comes from foods high in water content. Such as watermelon – each bite contains 92% water!
Fruits and vegetables are highest in water content, while whole grains help ensure moisture from foods gets into cells.
Chronic stress, a high-sugar diet and frequent exercise are all reasons for dehydration (and you may be dehydrated without realizing it). So, drink at least 3 liters of pure water daily! If you drink a lot of water and still feel thirsty, try adding a bit of Himalayan rock salt or trace minerals to your water – this helps balance your electrolytes to get water into cells better.
#2: Choose your foods wisely
We all know that whole foods are best for our health, right? (I hope you’re nodding!)
All fresh fruits and vegetables are great for preventing premature aging. The healthier ones include cucumber, watermelon, sweet potato, tomato, avocados, apples, ginger, berries (especially blueberries), pomegranate, dark green leafy vegetables, lemon, and garlic.
Fresh produce contains a ton of vitamins and minerals that are amazing anti-aging players. Vitamin A is especially important for skin health, and antioxidants help fight the free radicals that promote cellular degeneration.
In addition to fresh produce, healthy fats are also extremely great at preventing aging. Omega-3 fatty acids are especially critical for anti-aging. One main reason for this is because they help reduce inflammation, a major factor in aging. Choose wild-caught salmon, walnuts, ground flaxseed and extra virgin olive oil.
#3: Drink less alcohol – or none at all 🙂
Yes, there are abundant antioxidants in wine, especially red wine, but too much alcohol can promote premature aging for a few reasons.
Alcohol is dehydrating (see #1), for one thing. Your liver has to detoxify alcohol so over time, the liver can become sluggish, leaving toxins circulating in your blood. This means toxins end up in your cells, which promote degeneration. This can then cause inflammation, which leads to free radical damage and aging.
#4: Move your body, and break a sweat daily.
Daily exercise is super for anti-aging! Exercise, even moderate active recovery movements, help keep blood flowing to the skin, brain and other organs. This means nutrients are circulating to where they need to be.
A sedentary lifestyle will speed up aging because it prevents nutrients and resources from getting to the organs and body systems. Plus, too much sitting can lead to a stagnant lymphatic system, which can lead to inflammation.
On the other hand, too much exercise could also lead to premature aging. When you exercise, your adrenals kick in to produce cortisol. Cortisol’s job is to convert stored glycogen to glucose for energy. Too much cortisol is connected to pre-mature aging (see #6).
#5: Work on improving your sleep.
Sleep deprivation not only causes those annoying dark circles under your eyes. It also speeds up the aging process throughout your entire body. Just one night of poor sleep can increase cellular aging! Imagine what night after night after night of sleep deprivation can do to you.
Log at least 7 hours of good quality sleep each night. If you’re frequently feeling wired and tired at bedtime OR you’re waking up way too early, that means your cortisol is imbalanced. Work on stress management (see #6) and speak with a health care provider about natural sleep and stress management options.
#6: Manage that stress appropriately!
When you’re chronically stressed, as most of us are, your body is continuously producing cortisol. High levels of cortisol have been linked to shorter telomeres in white blood cells, which is an indication of premature aging.
To help manage stress naturally, consider incorporating adrenal adaptogens into your diet. Look for ways to calm your body and mind daily, things like yoga, stretching, reading quietly or a hot bath before bed.
#7: Be careful in the sunshine.
A little natural sun exposure each day is fine. Your body needs sunshine to produce vitamin D. But excessive exposure is detrimental and undoubtedly ages the skin.
Vitamin D plays a critical role in several biological processes, including skin health. This helps to promote a youthful skin appearance. Higher Vitamin D levels are associated with healthy aging.
Ideally, try to get 20-30 minutes of sun exposure on skin that is not protected with any sunscreen. That’s all you need for adequate vitamin D. Too much sun can increase free radical damage and cellular degeneration.
#8: Do NOT smoke. Ever.
Really, this should be all I have to say about this.
But, if you’re still not convinced, the toxins in cigarettes circulate through your body, creating free radicals that age the cells.
#9: Laugh more often.
Laughter truly IS the best medicine. Combine this with your daily self-care routine to promote a more balanced mindset and reduce cortisol production.
#10: Get outside.
The outdoors and being in natural surroundings can be their own kind of therapy and should be part of any healthy anti-aging routine. Again, being outdoors has been shown to reduce cortisol production and management the stress response.
Obviously, there’s nothing that completely halts senescence or the biological aging process, but these simple anti-aging hacks may help you slow it down – even if it’s just a little bit.
More importantly, they may help you look and feel better RIGHT NOW, while promoting a an overall healthier, and more energetic lifestyle!
Wikipedia definition: senescence
Science Daily: How Much Sun is Good For Our Health?
Dermato Endocrinology: Discovering the link between nutrition and skin health
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