As you get older it is inevitable that you will age.
Sadly, this means that you decline in many aspects of your health.
This process starts as young as your early thirties. But with poor life choices it can start sooner and progress faster.
Many people say age is just a number, however, despite this cliché there is often a vast difference between actual age in years and biological age.
Some lucky people do not look their age.
This if often said to be because they have ‘good’ genes.
However, genetics only affects about 20% of aging.
And it is not down to luck concerning how fast we age.
Lifestyle and our environment are responsible for the other 80% of how fast we age.
Therefore, looking younger than your age may be great for your self-esteem and pride, but your cells could actually be a lot older biologically.
The rest is down to how kind we are to ourselves
Slow down the Aging Process Tips
Say farewell to sugar
For our skin to be firm, elastic and young-looking we need the proteins called collagen and elastin.
Unfortunately too much sugar in the diet can dramatically age our skin due to its effect on these proteins.
Too much sugar in our diet causes insulin to be over-produced. This over-production of insulin causes inflammation.
The knock-on effect of inflammation leads to the breakdown of collagen and elastin. This inevitably affects the appearance of our skin.
Refined sugar, in the form of glucose and fructose, is particularly damaging.
This is because the glucose and fructose molecules stick to the amino acids.
Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins.
This process is called glycation and causes the skin to lose elasticity and strength while becoming thinner and weaker.
This leads to dull looking skin and wrinkles.
So if keeping your skin young looking is important to you, it is a good idea to consider limiting sugary foods.
These include cakes, biscuits, candies and even white bread.
Sugar, in the form of high fructose corn syrup, is hidden in many processed foods such as dressings, pasta sauce, baked beans and soda drinks.
These foods should be eaten sparingly to avoid the effect that they have on aging.
Sugar is often used as an exfoliator.
When used on the face, it is particularly damaging as the granules can be quite sharp and injure the delicate facial skin.
This can lead to redness, inflammation and potentially, to scarring.
The more often your skin is damaged in this way, the less likely it will repair itself completely and over time will weaken.
It is then more susceptible to damage and wrinkles.
Eat more fat
Have you ever looked closely at someone who has lost a lot of weight?
Did you notice that their face can look drawn and hollow which makes them look much older?
A little bit of fat goes a long way to helping plump up the skin and keep it young-looking.
Internally, fat is necessary for every single cell in the body because each cell is surrounded by a membrane that contains fat.
Omega 3 fats are particularly important as they are anti-inflammatory.
Inflammation is one of the main aging processes in the body so keeping it at bay is incredibly important in the fight against aging.
Healthy fats also help to keep the skin lubricated which keeps it looking radiant and youthful.
Omega 3 is also important for a healthy heart which is extremely important if you want to add years to your life.
Goodbye to Gluten
First of all bread contains hidden sugar and, as already explained this can cause glycation which is very aging.
In fact, 2 slices of whole wheat bread can increase blood sugar (and subsequently insulin) more than 2 tablespoons of sugar.
I bet you didn’t realise that!
Gluten is a protein in wheat products such as bread and pasta.
A lot of people react to gluten which causes inflammation in the gut.
It also reduces the absorption of nutrients such as vitamins and minerals in the gut.
Losing these important nutrients means they are not able to do their job and support skin health.
Gluten and other food intolerances also cause rashes and blemishes which make the skin look less healthy and vibrant.
Those who are allergic to gluten often turn to gluten-free products.
However, these products contain starches, fillers and added sugars which, although they don’t cause an allergic reaction, can still cause inflammation.
The best gluten-free diet is one with lots of fresh meat, fish, fruit and vegetables.
They don’t contain gluten and provide all the nutrients necessary to maintain healthy, vibrant body and skin.
Water, water everywhere.
Dehydration is the number one enemy of healthy skin.
Water bathes every single cell in our body, is necessary for helping to lubricate joints and helps flush toxic substances from our body.
Water is the most important nutrient for health.
Without it we would die within days.
Water restores skin elasticity and, along with fat, plumps the skin giving it a youthful glow.
We need about 2 litres of water every day to support all our bodily functions.
However, after activity when we lose water through sweat, we need to drink even more.
Water is also necessary to ensure healthy excretion of waste.
Without adequate water, toxins build up in the body and this can cause rashes, acne and eczema on the skin.
These impact how healthy and youthful our skin looks.
Taking a cold shower now and again uses the power of water to boost blood flow.
Optimum blood circulation ensures the delivery of important nutrients to the skin and makes it glow.
On the other hand hot showers are not good for the skin as the heat dries it out.
It is therefore best to avoid really hot showers, steam rooms and saunas.
So long stress
Nowadays we all encounter stress – whether it is caused by work, relationships or money worries.
These constant stresses lead to chronically high levels of the hormone cortisol.
This can be the cause of many life-threatening diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, and heart disease.
Constant cortisol in the body can also lead to obesity, digestive problems and lack of sleep – all of which take years off your life and wreak havoc on your skin.
Immunity is also affected negatively which makes you more susceptible to skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis or rosacea.
Cortisol accelerates the aging process of the skin, increasing unwanted signs of ageing such as age spots, and skin dullness.
When you are stressed you are also less likely to smile and more likely to frown which if done often enough will leave permanent wrinkles and a furrowed brow.
The other stress hormone adrenalin was historically produced when we were in a fight or flight situation.
Unfortunately adrenalin can be produced in modern society when we feel threatened.
This can be when we have to speak in public, or someone pulls out in front of us in traffic.
This causes a surge in adrenalin.
One of the consequences of this is that the blood vessels in the skin contract in order to redirect blood to other areas of our body such as the heart, brain and leg muscles.
When blood supply is limited to the skin it means nutrients are not being delivered to the skin leaving it looking dull.
It is therefore, important to try and manage stress.
This can be done in several ways.
Try to meditate, breathe deeply or enjoy a brisk walk in the fresh air.
Or take a warm, not hot, bath and relax with lavender scented candles and a good book.
Feeling relaxed and refreshed is also beneficial for overall well-being.
And when we feel well we look much more healthy, vibrant and young!
Eat a Mediterranean diet
Have you ever heard of The Blue Zones?
They are places in the world where people live the longest and are the healthiest and happiest.
Aging isn’t just about how many wrinkles you have, but the quality of life that you live.
The Blue Zones include Sardinia, Ikaria in Greece, Loma Linda in California, Nicoya in Costa Rica and Okinawa in Japan.
One reason for this phenomena is that these people all eat a healthy diet based on vegetables, beans, pulses, and fish.
They eat meat, but only a few times a month.
And they drink red wine once a day (or sake/Awamori in Okinawa)
But it is a small glass of high quality red wine.
And NO you can’t save them all up for Saturday night!!
This diet is known as the Mediterranean diet and along with other factors contributes to longevity and health.
Most meals are based on beans or pulses, such as lentils, and are served with lots of fresh, preferably locally-grown, organic vegetables.
Now I realise that we don’t always have the time or resources to grow our own vegetables, and organic produce can often be expensive.
But how about changing just one meal a day?
Vegetables are packed with nutrients that protect the brain from mental decline that comes with aging.
And resveratrol in red wine is credited with supporting heart health.
What better reason to pop the cork on the Merlot?
Aloha to anti-oxidants
When many people think of anti-aging they often just think of their skin and outward appearance.
But the whole of our body is aging and breaking down so we heed to take a holistic approach to slowing down aging.
It’s not just what we put on our skin but also what we put into our bodies that affects our outward appearance.
Every day we are exposed to free radicals that damage our cells.
This causes oxidative stress which is one of the main causes of aging and disease.
Even our own cells create free radicals so it is a constant battle to stay on top of it.
Our body does create its own defense in the form of anti-oxidants but stress, lack of activity and inflammation all play their part to deplete these anti-oxidants.
So we need to boost our anti-oxidants by eating plenty of them in our food.
These are primarily vitamins A, C, and E but there are hundreds of others.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
The Mediterranean diet we talked about earlier has a high tomato content.
Now tomatoes contain the powerful anti-oxidant lycopene.
Lycopene is particularly effective when it is cooked.
So eating cooked tomatoes, tomato puree, juice and even ketchup all increase your fight against aging.
Lycopene has also been shown to protect against prostate and breast cancer.
Vitamin C is vital for maintaining healthy and resilient skin.
As we age, our skin loses more and more vitamin C, which can contribute to age spots and more wrinkles.
It helps with the formation of collagen, which we already learnt is important for skin elasticity.
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, cantaloupe, mango, papaya, berries and pineapple.
Vitamin A is found in orange fruits and vegetables.
Sweet potato is a particularly good source.
To prevent aging and cellular damage it is best to ‘eat a rainbow’ every day.
Get as many colours on your plate as possible and you will know that you are providing your body with a full range of skin protecting nutrients.
Pop some protein in your mouth
Collagen is a protein that strengthens your skin, hair and nails.
But it doesn’t just magically appear.
We need to support protein production in the body by providing the building blocks.
Protein is also necessary to repair our body and prevent saggy, wrinkly skin and premature aging.
And that means we need to eat protein.
That doesn’t necessarily mean eating red meat.
Protein comes in many forms including white meat, such as chicken, fish and also beans and pulses.
If you remember that is what is so beneficial in the Mediterranean diet!
Protein also helps to reduce insulin spikes in the blood.
This means the body can maintain stable blood sugar levels, reducing oxidative stress on your body and keeping cortisol levels in check.
All of which affect the skin’s appearance.
AGE cause aging
When we learnt about how sugar is detrimental to the aging process we talked about glycation.
The scientific name for this is Advanced Glycation End Products or ironically AGEs.
Unfortunately modern diets contain far too many processed foods that have been cooked at high temperatures.
Heating food at high temperatures, both during processing and also char-grilling, grilling and cooking on a barbeque all create AGEs.
Eating foods contaminated with AGEs leads to oxidative stress and inflammation, which cause aging of the skin tissue.
AGEs are actually already present in uncooked animal protein naturally.
But cooking at high temperatures results in the formation of new AGEs.
So if you really enjoy your meat try to eat high-quality, organic, free-range, grass-fed meat and cook it slowly. Slow cooking methods like braising and stewing are best.
In fact if you put your meat in a slow cooker with lots of vegetables and herbs you can produce a delicious meal, reduce the amount of AGE’s and you won’t lose any nutrients.
So it’s a win-win all round.
With regard to AGE’s these are also produced in dairy products that have been heat-treated such as pasteurised milk.
But butter, cream, cheese, margarine and mayonnaise also contain AGE’s.
So if you really want to look after your skin and slow the rate of aging try and minimise these in your diet.
Take a leaf out of those Blue Zone centenarians who eat cold pressed extra virgin olive oil.
It’s not heat treated and contains healthier omega 3 fats.
So much kinder to your skin and it also protects against mental decline by protecting your brain.
And if you really can’t do without your cheese try unpasteurised cheeses – but NOT if you are pregnant.
Boil those bones
Another delicious way to get collagen for healthy skin and joints, is to make bone broth.
You can boil chicken bones left behind after a roast dinner or buy bones from the butcher to make broth.
Bones that are rich in collagen are oxtail and chicken feet.
If you can, use fresh bones from healthy, preferably free-range, organically-raised animals.
Boil the bones gently for a few hours with an onion, carrot, celery and a few herbs.
Cool and then skim off the fat and strain before eating.
Use the broth as it is or for adding to stocks, stews and gravies.
As well as collagen, bone broth contains hyaluronic acid, and loads of anti-aging minerals too.
It also contains MSM (methyl-sulfonyl-methane), a sulphur-rich ingredient well known for its anti-aging properties.
Look after your gut
Our skin reflects what is going on in the gut and liver so it is important to keep these healthy.
The best way to do that is to feed the one trillion ‘good’ bacteria that live in our gut.
The food that they thrive on is fibre and you can get that from vegetables.
Fibre also keeps you ‘regular’ which is great as a congested gut is also reflected in the skin.
Unfortunately, modern day living can deplete the friendly bacteria living happily in our gut.
To repopulate them and make sure that there is a good mix of different varieties, eating fermented foods is a great thing to do.
These fermented foods such as kefir, kamboucha, sauerkraut and live yoghurt not only provide the bacteria (as probiotics) but also contain vitamin C, and loads of enzymes for maintaining a healthy gut.
Remember, keeping the gut healthy will keep our skin healthy!
Weigh in with some heavy lifting
Resistance training, be it with body weight exercise or lifting weights has been shown to be a very effective anti-aging strategy.
Unfortunately once we turn 30 our muscle mass starts to decline.
We then begin to lose strength, endurance, and power.
Paired with slower metabolism and increased body fat we begin to find it harder to lose weight whilst getting weaker at the same time.
For tighter, firmer skin weight lifting not only burns calories, it also helps to regulate blood sugar, blood pressure and slow down premature aging.
Exercise helps to maintain your muscle mass which means that your skin does not wrinkle and sag so easily.
It also helps to increase blood flow which carries those anti-aging nutrients to the skin.
If you don’t fancy lifting weights why not take another leaf out of the book of those Blue Zone centenarians.
They add exercise into their daily schedules and there are many ways this can be done.
Why not walk or cycle instead of using the cars – it’s not only better for you but also for the environment.
Try using the stairs instead of the lift, getting off the bus one stop sooner, parking further away from the shops or going for a brisk walk or swim during your lunch break.
Getting those feel-good hormones, endorphins, going is also great for giving your skin a youthful glow so why not join in some team games or just get out in the garden with your children.
Forget your worries for an hour or so and play. It’s great for your heart, your skin and your soul. And best of all its free!
When we sleep our body not only rejuvenates and regenerates but it also detoxifies.
We need sleep to be ready to take on what the new day throws at us.
Just an hour less sleep than we need causes hormonal imbalances and can increase cortisol levels up to ten-fold.
This causes higher blood sugar and insulin and oxidative stress.
As we have already learnt these are our aging enemies.
If our body is not able to repair itself adequately the production of human growth hormone is affected.
This is a really important hormone when it comes to anti-aging!
Plus if you don’t get enough sleep you will get puffy, bloodshot eyes with dark circles underneath.
Instantly making you look old and haggard.
Not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, will lead to skin breakouts and has also been found in scientific studies to be linked to the development of life-shortening diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
All of which make you look older.
To ensure you get a great night’s sleep limit access to screens such as laptops, phones and tablets at least an hour before bedtime.
Do not use your phone as an alarm and invest in a good mattress.
It is also best to make sure that your bedroom is completely dark and if that is not possible try using an eye mask.
Lavender and camomile have been shown to help with relaxation so a sprig of lavender under the pillow and a calming camomile tea before bedtime are great for ensuring a great night’s restorative, anti-aging sleep.
Finally, if possible sleep on your back to smooth out those wrinkles.
Sleep is not the only use for that bed you know!!
Research has shown that regular sex (about 3 times a week) can make you look between 4 to 7 years younger.
Sex releases endorphins which are those feel-good hormones that leave you glowing but they also increase immunity.
And an active sex life also boosts blood flow which we have already learnt makes our skin look youthful.
The feeling of happiness you get from the shared intimacy with someone you love also puts you in a great mood.
And happy people always look younger.
Plus it’s great exercise and if you have to exercise you may as well enjoy it.
The sun has got his hat on!
What is it that the Australians say with regard to sun protection? “Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide”.
Slip on a shirt, Slop on the sunscreen, Slap on a hat, Seek shade, Slide on some glasses.
This guidance is to protect you from getting a type of skin cancer called melanoma.
However, its mighty fine advice when you are wanting to protect your skin from the aging effects of sun exposure. All year round!
It doesn’t matter what the weather wear a moisturiser on your face, neck and hands with at least factor 30 SPF (sun protection factor).
Those nasty UV rays can damage your skin even on a cloudy day and they are one of the quickest ways to age your skin.
When it is sunny reapply the sun lotion every three hours.
Remember to also wear sunglasses to protect your delicate eyes and also a hat.
The sun can dry your hair out making you look older.
Quit the Ciggies.
Smoking is bad news for so many reasons.
It can cause cancer and breathing problems, heart disease and cognitive decline.
It increases the breakdown of collagen and narrows blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients to your skin.
Take a look at any smoker and you will see they have far more wrinkles than non-smokers and often look older than their age.
In addition they have yellow nails and fingertips and bad breath! Yuck!
People who smoke are also more likely to not eat a healthy diet or exercise regularly.
This compounds the effect of their poor lifestyle choices and increases the speed at which they age physically.
Cut down on the alcohol
Having the odd drink now and again is not a bad thing, but alcohol dehydrates you and your skin.
So if you do have to over-indulge try and alternate each glass of alcohol with a glass of water.
Alcohol also expands the blood vessels which leads to broken blood vessels, redness and tiny pimples.
This has an aging effect on the face. However, alcohol, in moderation, can help slow aging and red wine is especially potent.
This is due to resveratrol, an anti-oxidant-like ingredient that is also found in black grapes and mulberries.
It is also reported to be protective for the heart but that doesn’t mean you can drink a whole bottle.
The effect is not compounded, so less is more.
Lose weight and maintain it
Yo-yo dieting where you regularly lose and gain weight is not great for either your health, wellbeing or skin.
Repeatedly gaining weight will stretch your skin and then losing it can leave it saggy the more times this cycle is repeated.
Skin loses its elasticity and will find it harder to bounce back.
It is much better to lose weight and then seek to maintain it by eating healthy food and taking regular exercise.
Get back to nature
Have you ever thought about what you are putting on your skin?
Beauty and personal care products are often loaded with chemicals that increase the amount of toxins in your body.
They get absorbed through the skin and increase the toxic load that the liver has to deal with.
And when the liver is overloaded it is reflected in the skin.
The chemicals in these products also have a direct damaging effect on the skin which speeds up aging.
The skin on your eyes and lips is much more delicate than elsewhere on your face so why not try going make-up free some days.
Let your natural beauty shine through.
Cleanse the skin with natural products that don’t contain chemicals.
Or better still why not try DIY skincare using pure, fresh ingredients like yoghurt, avocado and honey.
There are loads of recipes on the internet.
Your skin will then absorb nutrients and healthy fats rather than chemicals.
Finally, try not to over-wash your face as this can cause damage and also dry out the skin.
If the wind changes you’ll stick like that!!
Remember when you pulled a face as a child your parents told you that if the wind changed you would stick like it?
Well, they weren’t entirely wrong.
If you tense your forehead when you are thinking, squint when you are reading or smile all the time then despite being a happy bunny it will show in your facial skin.
Laughter is, of course, the best medicine and releases endorphins which are great for our health and well-being.
However, facial expressions can cause wrinkles so try and be mindful of the faces you are pulling!
You now have plenty of ideas to try and slow down the aging process and look younger than you actually are.
For an idea of what your biological age is likely to be, try typing ‘biological age checker’ into Google.
There are a few websites that have short questionnaires to answer and then they tell you your estimated biological age.
Go on give it a try but be truthful. It may shock you – one way or another!
To your health!
PS…Have any other ways to slow down the aging process? Let us know in the comments section and please share the post on Facebook.