Wellness Warriors, I believe that the biggest key to looking younger is feeling younger. There is nothing that ages us more quickly than illnesses, pain and stiffness, or chronic stress. The great thing is that much of what we do to take care of ourselves will also help us defy our age and give us a youthful appearance.
Last week, I shared two of the things I do routinely to define my age. Today, I’d like to share the remaining three things.
Food Choices – You Are What You Eat
Much has been written about nutrition's ability to prevent you from getting sick, boost your immune system, and enhance your complexion. But poor food choices not only affect your health, they also affect the way you age.
While supplements can help, real food is more beneficial to your body and skin. And professionals who study the effects of food on aging agree that a balanced diet made up of a wide variety of lean proteins, colorful fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, seeds and nuts, healthy monounsaturated fats, and whole grains is the way to go.
To help your skin age well, add foods containing vitamins A, C, and E and polyphenols (antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties that protect and benefit the skin) to your daily diet. Delicious (and colorful) examples of foods that provide these essential nutrients include:
Vitamin A – Sweet potatoes, broccoli, asparagus, squash, leafy greens (such as spinach and kale), red, orange, and yellow produce (such as cantaloupe, carrots, bell peppers)
Vitamin C – Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green and red bell peppers, strawberries, pineapple, kiwifruit, tomatoes, and citrus fruits (like oranges and tangerines)
Vitamin E: Nuts and seeds, vegetable oils, pumpkin, tomato products, collard greens, and spinach
Polyphenols: Berries, herbs & spices, green tea, olives, cocoa, and dark chocolate
In addition, say NO to processed sugars. It’s one of our body’s biggest enemies! It causes body inflammation and actually diminishes your energy. Avoid processed foods as well, as they are depleted of nutrition and full of chemicals that only serve to age your body.
Finally, stay hydrated! Water is essential for keeping your skin moist and firm, which is something we badly need when we reach a certain age. It also has other positive effects, such as helping to improve your thinking skills, and it acts as a prevention against sore muscles.
Get Your ZZZs
It’s easy to see the effects of a lack of, or poor quality of, sleep. Bags under our eyes, not being alert, and even a change in our mood and demeanor can make us look—and feel—old! If this becomes a nightly habit, chronic sleep deprivation will age your body from the inside out.
Our body regenerates and restores its energy mainly when we are asleep. That’s why getting regular sleep is of key importance in achieving a youthful look.
Most of us don’t get enough sleep, and that plays a significant role in our appearances and how we generally feel. If your lack of sleep is because you have a lot to do and you think more time equals the ability to get more done each day, think about the time you waste due to fatigue interfering with your efficiency. Adjust your habits and start working on getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night.
It’s important to take care of yourself, so you can define your age. Grab a copy of my latest bestseller, 30 Summers More, and get on the right track to a long, healthy, and youthful life! If your lack of sleep is due to another reason, such as insomnia, a snoring partner, or other nighttime disturbances, simple lifestyle adjustments might help. Reduce afternoon caffeine, turn off electronics a few hours before bedtime to reduce your exposure to blue lights, or try calming activities like reading, listening to music, or a relaxing bath. If that doesn't work, be sure to consult with your doctor to rule out sleep apnea or other medical conditions that may be preventing you from getting the rest you need.
Take Care of These “Little” Things
Just because I refer to these as “little” things, they are big to defying your age.
Stress Management – In addition to the physical issues that come from chronic stress, stress can make us look and feel old before our time. Set aside a few minutes each day to be quiet, center yourself, and let your worries drift away. Deep breathing exercises and meditation are also great to practice. I love yoga, and it has the added benefit of not only calming my mind, but also keeping my body flexible and strong.
Protect Your Skin – Nothing ages the skin faster than overexposure to the sun. Collagen, the structural protein of our skin, breaks down in response to exposure to UV rays, and from the production of free radicals. Use sunscreen, wear lightweight clothing to cover your skin, wear a hat, and avoid activities outside during high-sun hours to protect your skin.
Stop Smoking – Beyond the obvious health reasons not to smoke, smoking is a massive contributor to early aging. It directly correlates to the yellowing of your teeth, aging of your skin, and wrinkling around your lips. If you want to look and feel younger—and live longer—stop smoking, plain and simple!
You Control How You Age
Yes, you can control how you age. You can choose how you will live and age. Much of what you choose to do on a daily basis will not only prolong the length of your life but the quality of those years as well.
We should be proud of the years we have under our belts. They come with experience, wisdom, and greater insight. I’m ok with getting older. But looking old? Feeling old? That's not for me. Let us be the definers of our age!
Until next time, Wellness Warriors, Live Well, Live Long!