Humans have been chasing the fountain of youth for thousands of years, and it seems a lot of us still do. The number of anti-wrinkle creams and anti-aging lotions are staggering, not to mention all the cosmetic procedures that could set you back thousands of dollars in your pursuit to look a little younger than your peers.
But as the name suggests, these are all cosmetic. Even if these treatments worked and you looked younger, you won’t necessarily feel any younger. To really turn back the clock, you have to start from the inside-out. Here’s how to do it naturally:
Fix your Diet
You are what you eat. Avoid starchy carbohydrates, fruits with a high glycemic index and sugar. A diet high in sugar can make you look 10 years older because sugar in the bloodstream binds itself to proteins, forming a harmful new molecule called advanced glycation end products or AGE, that damages other proteins in the body, most notably collagen and elastin.
These protein fibers are what keeps your skin looking firm and elastic. AGE damages these protein fibers, causing sagging and wrinkles. Add this to the natural decline of collagen production due to aging (1% decline every year) and you have a double whammy in your hands. You should be aiming for foods that promote natural collagen production such as garlic, blueberries, dark & leafy veggies, eggs, white tea, mangoes, carrots and avocados.
You can mix and match these foods to get all the collagen boosting benefits, such as leafy veggies with carrots sautéd in garlic and olive oil, or a blueberry and mango smoothie. You can eat avocados mixed with yogurt or even make an egg and garlic omelette. Be creative, and don’t forget to balance your diet with enough protein, fat and carbohydrates from natural sources.
Avoid Smoke and Sun Exposure
If you smoke, you should really consider quitting while you’re ahead. Smoking causes a myriad of health problems such as wrinkles, bad teeth, yellow fingers, COPD, cancer, heart disease, poor vision, blood clots, anxiety and other complications that are too many to mention. Plus, if you smoke at home, you’re endangering the lives of your loved ones with secondhand smoke, which has far worse effects.
The sun is good for our bodies and a good source vitamin D, but too much exposure can cause wrinkles, especially on the thin layer of skin surrounding your eyes. Never go out of the house without sunglasses with 100% UVA and UVB protection, a wide brimmed hat and sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun’s harmful rays.
Take Supplements when you can
If you feel you’re not getting enough nutrients from food, you can always take supplements to make up for what’s missing. Look for a good plant-based multi-vitamin that gives you all the essential vitamins and minerals lacking from your diet. You should also take supplements rich in omega – 3, 6 and 9, polyunsaturated fats known as EFA’s (essential fatty acids) that can be beneficial to your heart, bones, joints and skin. Last but not least, don’t forget your vitamin C.
Collagen supplements are growing in popularity these days as another way to help the body produce more collagen naturally and stave off aging. The jury is still out on the effectiveness of collagen supplements, but the few studies on hydrolyzed collagen seem to be promising in improving bone mass and reversing skin aging.
Exercise can really do wonders for your overall health and well being. Keeping yourself fit and healthy takes commitment, but the payoff is huge. Age not only brings wrinkles, it also brings a slower metabolism and decreased physical strength if you remain sedentary. Exercise can address these other issues, so you’ll not only look young, you’ll feel young too.
Do some cardio for your heart and lung health, while strength training can keep your muscles firm and tight. When your muscles are firm, you’re whole body will look well built and sagging won’t be much of an issue. Aim for three cardio sessions of 30 – 45 minutes and two sessions of strength training each week to look tight and toned all year round.
As long as you live a healthy lifestyle, watch what you eat and exercise regularly, you can keep the effects of aging such as increased weight gain, wrinkles, sagging skin and general weakness at bay. Remember, you don’t need to search for the fountain of youth to look and feel younger – you have all the tools at your disposal to fight aging from the inside-out.