Beating the Years
There’s no need to accept that weight gain, wrinkles, dry skin, and a whole host of other problems are inevitable aspects of aging. Natural healing offers plenty of solutions to beat the clock.
Research shows that poor diet, too much sun, lack of exercise, and stress can speed up the aging process. On the other hand, you can combat the wear-and-tear factor by stalling the action of free radicals on your body.
Free Radicals and Aging
Highly reactive compounds, free radicals are produced during your body’s normal metabolic processes, and also by such things as air pollution and overheating certain oils. They can attack and damage the genetic code and memory of your cells and prevent your cells from producing energy.
This all sounds deeply complex, but the effects of free radicals are around us all the time. Have you ever seen what oxygen does to certain metals? Rust is a product of oxidization, triggered by free radicals. What about wrinkles? Free radicals are the culprits of those, too. They also contribute to cancer and heart disease.
You can’t do anything to prevent free radicals, but your body does have defence mechanisms that can clear them away. Your major line of defence is through your diet. In addition, you can make certain lifestyle changes that can help you fight free-radical attack.
It’s Up to You
Age happens (free-radical attack seems to escalate over the age of 30), but how it happens and whether or not you look older than you should is – to a certain extent – up to you. You know you can avoid weight gain, heart disease, osteoporosis, and high cholesterol through diet and exercise. You know you can minimize wrinkles by taking care of your skin. Keeping your mind active can keep your brain young. You know that extra weight, aches and pains, memory loss, and so on can make you look and feel old. In other words, visible aging is at least partly a product of how you live your life and, particularly, how well you treat yourself.
It’s never too early to start thinking about how well you’re aging, and it’s never too late to make positive changes. So, whether you’re in your teens or your seventies, I urge you to start taking care of your body and your mind, and develop a battle plan to slow down the aging process in your body, so you can start to hold off the years with success.
A healthy diet is your front line of defence against aging, so follow the expert’s recommendations. These will help prevent weight gain and poor health by keeping your blood-sugar levels and hormones balanced and by ensuring that every system in your body gets the nutrients it needs to function at optimum levels. It’s especially important to make sure you eat at least five portions of vegetables and fruit, preferably organic, every day.
All vegetables are longevity foods, but perhaps the ones with the most power to prevent premature aging are leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and kale. Leafy greens are loaded with nutrients that can help prevent free-radical attack. Studies show they can help block cancer, prevent heart attacks and obesity, and keep osteoporosis at bay.
Boost antioxidants Although a well-balanced, nutritious diet is key to staying young, nutrients called antioxidants – vitamins A, C, and E, as well as zinc and selenium – are the key players in an anti-aging diet. Found in vegetables, nuts, and fruits, antioxidants are your body’s defence against free-radical attack. Make sure you eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables because different antioxidants are found in differently colored foods. For example, leafy green vegetables, berries, carrots, beets, and so on all contain different antioxidants, but all with the same free-radical fighting benefits.
Increase fats and B-vitamins Essential fatty acids (found in oily fish, nuts and flax seeds) and B-vitamins (found in whole grains) can help balance your hormones and keep your skin supple.
In an ideal world, you would get an adequate intake of the above (and all) nutrients from the food you eat. However, because modern farming and processing techniques deplete the nutritional power of much of your food, I urge every woman to take a good-quality multi-vitamin and mineral every day – not as a replacement for a healthy diet, but as an insurance policy.
Build up a sweat Aside from a healthy diet, there is perhaps nothing of more benefit to your anti-aging plan than moderate exercise. Study after study shows that exercise can reverse many of the physiological changes that are normally associated with aging. Don’t overdo it, though, as exercising too hard and for too long can have the opposite effect.
“Moderate” means about 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, five times a week. In addition, weight-bearing exercises, such as brisk walking, jogging, and dancing can help keep your bones strong and prevent osteoporosis; stretching and yoga can help keep you flexible (there’s nothing more aging than seized-up joints). Aim to do 30 minutes of weight-bearing or suppleness exercises two or three times a week.
Other research has found that exercise can help prevent age-related increases in weight, cholesterol, and blood pressure. As you get older, your metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns fat), gradually slows down. However, regular exercise can help give your metabolism a boost. If you’re over 60 and find the idea of regular workouts unappealing, consistent low-level exercise, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking the car far from the entrance to the supermarket, walking round the block for ten minutes, gardening, and housework, can also be beneficial and help prevent many of the problems that make women feel old before their time.
No smoking Not only does smoking damage your fertility, lower your immunity, and increase your risk of cancer and heart disease, it gives you dry skin and yellow teeth. The facial contortions required to puff on a cigarette leave you with unsightly wrinkles around your nose, mouth, and eyes. In fact, smoking is one of the fastest ways to accelerate the aging process. If you want to stay young-looking, you have to quit.
Enjoy the sun in moderation Lying in the sun for long periods of time or spending hours under a tanning machine may give you what you think is just a tan, but dermatologists call it “photo aging”. This is because exposure to ultraviolet rays (from the sun or a sunbed) can cause wrinkles, age spots, and even cataracts. With overexposure, your skin eventually thickness and becomes leathery and harsh. The fairer your complexion, the more your skin will suffer.
This doesn’t mean you should spend your life indoors. Studies show that you need at least 30 minutes of natural light every day so you don’t’ become deficient in vitamin D. A deficiency can increase your risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, breast cancer, and, ironically, premature aging. As with everything in life, expose your skin to the sun in moderation.
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