As a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I often meet with women in their midlife and older who are struggling with signs of aging. They complain that their skin has lost its elasticity, they keep getting new wrinkles that seem to deepen daily, and have unwanted weight gain. Plus they don’t sleep well and feel sluggish all day! They’ve tried all the latest potions, procedures, and Pilates programs, but nothing seems to work when it comes to reduced signs of aging.
My advice to my clients and to anyone who wants to look and feel younger is to look at what you put into your body and make some simple lifestyle changes. That’s because slowing down aging and keeping a youthful appearance, with abundant energy to match, begins from the inside out. Read on for my tips and tricks on how to reduce signs of aging and improve your lifestyle!
First of all, to slow down aging, focus on the foods that you eat. Adding in plenty of vitamin and antioxidant rich foods to your daily diet can help to feed your skin the vital nutrients it needs to stay soft, supple, and blemish-free. Plus eating nutrient rich foods can help you maintain your weight and feel more energetic throughout the day.
In addition to changing your diet to slow down aging, I also recommend a few lifestyle changes that can help to improve your skin and overall health.
Here are simple but powerful ways to reduce signs of aging and look and feel younger.
1. Eat lots of vitamin rich foods
What you eat can make a big difference in how you look and feel! Make sure your daily diet includes foods rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium and antioxidants. These important vitamins help protect the skin’s surface from oxidative damage caused by free radicals and environmental skin aggressors like UV and pollution.
Vitamin C especially is a potent antioxidant that helps to reduce signs of aging! It is needed for a strong immune system, radiant skin, and Vitamin C can even help blemishes heal properly. Vitamin C is key to helping your body’s production of collagen, which is the protein that forms the basic scaffolding of your skin. Collagen breakdown can leave your skin saggy and wrinkly. Eating Vitamin C rich foods can help improve the tone and texture of aging skin. Aside from citrus, you can also get your daily dose of Vitamin C from these fruits and vegetables:
- Brussels sprouts
- Chili peppers
- Red bell peppers
In addition to Vitamin C rich foods to slow down aging, you want to include
- Foods high in Vitamin A like dark leafy vegetables and dark orange vegetables. Dark leafy greens are also high in fiber, which slows blood sugar production.
- Foods high in Vitamin E such as sunflower seeds, almonds, papaya, asparagus, and bell peppers.
- Selenium rich foods such as tuna, cod, halibut, shrimp, salmon, and turkey, barley, and lamb.
- Antioxidant rich foods such as berries, green tea, acai, pomegranates, purple carrots, black grapes, and beets. The latter contain anthocyanins, which help promote blood flow to the skin.
You can also benefit from applying Vitamin C topically. Topical vitamin C is sold in a wide range of facial products, but I only recommend using ones that contain between 3% and 10% of vitamin C and include the active ingredient ascorbic acid or L-ascorbic acid. Note that all antioxidants, including vitamin C, are vulnerable to deterioration in the presence of air and light, so only purchase a product that comes in an airtight and opaque package.
2. Avoid processed and eat organic
An important part of helping your skin look and feel healthy is to keep your cells nourished on a deep level. The best way to do that is to consume foods that are minimally processed (and ideally in their whole form) and organically grown. Whenever possible, I recommend eating organic produce. Organic produce has higher nutritional value and antioxidant content than its conventional counterpart. That’s because organic produce is grown in accordance with strict standards, does not contain toxic pesticides or genetically modified seeds, and has not been subject to harmful irradiation.
Avoid processed foods. Most processed food includes ingredients created in a lab, and since your body doesn’t recognize these “foods,” it registers them as toxic and goes into overdrive to move them from your system. Many processed foods are also designed to be addictive. The convenience is never worth the toll it takes on your body.
3. Embrace fat!
Healthy fat, that is; in moderation. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats—the types found in avocados, fish, nuts, seeds or oils such as flax, EVOO, avocado and coconut— provide essential fatty acids which act as a natural moisturizer for your skin, keeping it supple. These fats also come packaged with a healthy dose of vitamin E (a vitamin many of us lack), which will help protect against free-radical damage that can cause our skin to look dry and wrinkly.
You’ll also want to add in foods rich in omega-3.. Fish that is high in omega-3 while being low in toxins like mercury includes wild-caught Alaskan salmon (not Atlantic salmon, which is typically farmed), and small fatty fish like sardines and anchovies.
4. Love your gut
Because a big part of your immune system is housed in your gut, it’s crucial that you pay attention to gut health. Your gut is also connected to your brain. Your digestive system is literally your second brain, with the power to influence your mood, mind, and behavior.
I recommend taking a high-quality probiotic (ideally enteric coated so the bacteria makes it past harsh stomach acid, which can kill them), as well as eating traditional non-pasteurized fermented foods like kombucha, kefir, pickles and kimchi. Eating fermented foods helps to boost good bacteria production in your gut so your body can thrive and your mood remains stable.
I also recommend including collagen peptides into your daily diet. Collagen has been shown to help improve gut health, as well as improve the health and vibrancy of your skin, reducing signs of aging. I love Further Food Collagen Peptides, as it is sourced from grass-fed / pasture-raised cows. Add a scoop or two a day to your morning smoothie for a great protein boost!
5. Say no to sugar
White sugar wreaks havoc on your health in so many ways. Consuming excess sugar contributes to obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes. Plus sugar is addictive and toxic to your entire body, including your skin. I recommend that you minimize or eliminate sugar altogether. At the very least, aim to keep your sugar consumption down to 15 to 25 grams per day. (This means you may have to stop at one cookie, but it doesn’t mean you need to cut all the sweetness from your life.)
6. Trade caffeine for water
Your morning coffee may feel like a lifesaver most days, but caffeine wreaks havoc on your skin! Caffeine is a diuretic, so it can make you and your skin dehydrated. And keeping yourself hydrated is key to keeping your skin moist and supple, as well as keeping your energy level up.
Staying properly hydrated with lots of water throughout the day is the first line of defense against wrinkles and other effects of aging. The latest studies show you should drink nine 8-ounce cups of water per day (men need 12.5). You can also benefit from eating high-water content foods such as lettuce, watermelon, and broccoli.
Avoid drinking out of plastic bottles. They’re full of potential endocrine-disrupting chemicals that leach out when bottles get hot or sit around for a while. Instead, go for a glass or stainless steel bottle. It’s the healthier choice and better for the environment.
In addition to changing the foods you eat, here are some other things you can do that can have a huge impact on how you look and feel.
7. Eat dinner by 7pm
You don’t do yourself any favors by eating a late dinner. Here’s why: from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., your body is hard at work detoxing. When you eat later than 8 p.m., your body needs to kick into digestion mode, which in effect shuts down the detox functions that happen at night while you’re sleeping (see #8 below for more info on that).
What’s more: When you eat later, you set yourself up to be “off” from your natural satiety rhythms the entire next day. This sets off a dangerous cycle that can spike cortisol and cause you to put on pounds that are difficult to lose.
8. Get 7-8 hours of sleep
Sleep may seem like a luxury, but getting 7 to 8 hours of solid shuteye each night is truly one of the simplest ways to keep your body slim and avoid those dark bags under your eyes!
Your body is busy rebuilding during your nighttime sleeping hours: healing, detoxifying, and rebuilding cells! When you cut short the number of hours your body has to apply to these critical functions which help you feel your best, you end up looking exhausted and dragging throughout your day.
9. Dry Brushing
Dry brushing is a body massage with a dry, stiff-bristled brush. Daily dry brushing can help get rid of flaky skin, increase circulation and do wonders for helping to combat cellulite. The best time to dry brush is every morning before you shower. Start at the bottom of your legs and brush in long strokes, working upwards. The key is to always brush towards the heart; that way, you keep the blood flowing and help the toxins exit your body. Then move onto your stomach, arms (raise above your head and brush downwards), and finally to your chest area. Follow with a combination of organic sesame oil and cypress or grapefruit essential oil. This helps prevent lymph stagnation that can contribute to cellulite and locks in moisture. (Cypress and grapefruit essential oils help with circulation.)
10. Oil Pulling
Instead of rinsing with a mouthwash that may help your mouth feel minty but has actually been shown to increase your risk of heart disease, try oil pulling with coconut oil! Oil pulling is a more healthful alternative because it activates enzymes that have a powerful detoxifying effect on your entire system. Oil pulling helps remove toxins, bacteria, fungus, and other bugs from your mouth and your entire body, helping to cleanse your blood.
Since your mouth is a focal point for bacteria and microorganisms that mix with saliva and eventually hit your bloodstream, wiping out these bad guys can have a profound impact on your health.
To get started, make sure you find a high-quality organic coconut oil. Then every morning after you wake up, drink a glass of water and take about 1 tablespoon of oil into your mouth. Swish it around for as long as you can (start with 5 minutes and gradually work up to 15 to 20 minutes). Spit out the oil after 15 to 20 minutes of swishing. Spit it into the trash, not the sink as it can clog pipes. Don’t swallow the oi as it’s loaded with toxins! (But don’t beat yourself up if you accidentally do). Wash out your mouth thoroughly to help clear any lingering bacteria or toxins. Repeat daily.
Whatever age you are, changing the way you eat and these few lifestyle changes can make a big difference in your appearance and energy levels and help you age with strength, confidence and grace.
You can learn more about me and get more tips on how to live a healthy life on my blog, Redeeming Wellness. You can also get my free E-book for additional lifestyle and nutritional advice at www.agelessbeauty.life.
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