Recently I was asked to speak at Eat to Live Nutrition here in Newport, RI about one of my favorite topics – holistic anti-aging and beauty! It’s such a powerful topic because I truly think that you can slow down the rate at which you age – and even turn back the clock.
After all, genes only account for about 30% of aging, which means that about 70% comes from how we live and take care of ourselves – our environment, what we eat, how we treat our body, our relationships, our attitude and our thoughts.
No matter where we are in life, we all always have the opportunity to welcome in youth, energy and vitality. As long as we’re alive, our cells are constantly renewing themselves. Your stomach cells, for example, renew about every five days; your skin cells, every two to three weeks.
Through self-care and self-love, we can practice beauty rituals that nurture our mind, body and spirit and create the kind of optimal health we’re all attracted to – luminious skin and hair, positive energy and vitality that glows from the inside out. If you want to slow the rate at which you age, here are nine things to be mindful of:
1. Welcome in flow with dry brushing and self massage
Stagnation and lack of movement in the body is aging, whereas flow and circulation that allows nutrients to flow to the cells and toxins to be expelled from the body is anti-aging. Dry brushing and self massage work by stimulating the lymphatic system, which supports the immune system and helps the body clear itself of wastes. These effective beauty rituals that have been practiced for thousands of years in the ancient Indian medical practice of Ayurveda.
How to do it: Before your shower, use a natural bristle brush to brush all over the skin in movements toward your heart – this will get rid of dead skin cells and promote cell renewal. Make sure to focus on any areas where you have cellulite – this is wonderful for breaking up the toxins in your fat that are causing it. Skip your face though, since the brush is a little harsh for it.
Then, use coconut or sesame oil to massage your entire body for a few minutes by tapping the body or using long strokes with gentle pressure. This is great for destressing, soothing the muscles and nervous system, improving sleep, and enhancing the softness and texture of the skin. Note that sesame oil is more warming, so it may be more comforting in the winter, while coconut oil is more cooling and more be more fitting for warmer months.
Don’t forget your scalp! Massaging your scalp with oil promotes healthy hair growth. I like to use sesame oil for this since coconut oil can be a little more difficult to wash out of your hair. In the mornings, I also love to take a little oil and massage my face to increase circulation. I don’t use any face wash at this time – I just wash the oil off and put on my sunscreen to start the day.
2. Protect your beautiful skin with sunscreen
Sunscreen is the most important skin care tool we have. If you want to slow the aging of your skin, be sure to apply sunscreen to your face, decollete, neck and the backs of your hands every day, winter or summer, rain or shine. Sun damage is cumulative, and can account for up to 80% – 90% of wrinkles. Yes, the sun is that powerful!
When we’re choosing a sunscreen, we want to make sure we’re using something that doesn’t have aging side effects. Chemical based sunscreens with ingredients like avobenzene (i.e. most mainstream sunscreens) seep into your skin, enter the bloodstream and disrupt hormone levels – not beautifying!
How to do it: choose a mineral based sunscreen with zinc or titanium oxide that has natural ingredients. Right now I’m using this Mineral Fusion Facial Moisturizer with SPF – it’s lightweight, hyrdrating, illuminating and phalate and sulfate free so I’m happy with it and would definitely reccomend it. My favorite is the Pratima Neem Rose Sunscreen, which is super pure and made out of botanicals, but it’s also pricier.
The sun in general is healing for us and helps us produce vitamin D, so to get safe sun I suggest 15-20 minutes a day on your limbs. Just keep your face covered! For more info on the sun, sunscreen and protecting your skin, see my article here.
“Age means nothing when you have good health” – Louise Hay
3. Slash cortisol levels
Cortisol, the main hormone that’s released when you’re stressed or have negative thoughts, causes your blood sugar levels to go up and your body to hold onto stomach fat. Not beautiful!
We can’t avoid problems along the way; how much cortisol we produce is a matter of our perception of the issue and how we view it.
How to do it: reduce aging cortisol levels with exercise, massage, meditation, hydrotherapy, time in nature, time with friends, and positive thinking and affirmations. Say a positive affirmation daily – go to www.louisehay.com/affirmations/ for ideas.
4. Strength train
Any type of exercise improves mental health, counteracts the effects of stress, and improves the skin, circulation, immune system and metabolism. For anti-aging though, weight bearing exercise is especially important. A greater proportion of muscle to fat helps you naturally burn more calories and process sugar more efficiently (and you’ll strengthen your bones, which helps prevent osteoporosis!).
How to do it: aim for 45 minute sessions of weight bearing exercise, three times a week. For exercise motivation, go to my article here.
5. Avoid blood sugar spikes
“Nearly a third of all calories in the average American diet today come from refined sugar and corn syrup.” – Healthy at 100 by John Robbins.
Saw what?! That’s insane. You don’t want to be a part of this statistic, since we know that refined sugar and high glycemic foods speed up aging and break down collagen, causing premature wrinkles and sagging skin. Being insulin resistant (your body isn’t responding to insulin, the hormone that helps you process sugar and keep blood sugar levels stable), and pre diabetic is one of the most toxic things that can happen for aging of the mind and body.
How to do it:
- Make sure sugar isn’t creeping into your food. The number one thing I’m looking for on ingredient labels is added refined sugar, which can be called cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, agave, dextrose and many other names. If you don’t know what an ingredient is, assume it’s a chemical or sugar.
- Avoid high glycemic foods like white bread, pasta, cookies, cake, and candy made with refined carbohydrates and sugar when possible, since they rapidly convert to glucose in the body.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and splenda, since they’re aging and linked to cancer.
- Embrace natural sugars that metabolize well in the body, such as whole fresh fruits and veggies, and use dates, bananas, honey, maple syrup and stevia to sweeten things and make desserts.
Wanting some sweet taste is a natural thing, just make your sweets out of whole foods to avoid accelerated aging! For example, try making chocolate “ice cream” by blending two frozen bananas, ½ cup frozen cherries, 1/4 an avocado, 3 TB raw cacao, a 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk (keep adding as much coconut milk as you need until it blends fully) and a dash of sea salt. Add stevia if you need some extra sweetness, and add cacao until it’s got enough chocolate for you. So delicious!
6. Focus on plant foods
Fruits and vegetables are a perfect package gifted to us from nature with fiber, water, phytonutrients and antioxidants that fight aging free radicals. No matter what your diet philosophy is (paleo, vegetarian etc.), we should all aim for the majority of our diet to be plant foods – whole vegetables, fruits, healthy fat from nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados, and gluten free whole grains including oats, rice, beans, quinoa etc. These foods alkalinize the body, and we know that acidic bodies age faster and are at a higher risk for developing disease.
How to do it:
- Choose foods labeled USDA organic or Non-GMO Project Verified as much as possible to avoid aging, toxic pesticides and GMOs. This is especially important for animal foods, since any toxins they’re eating bioaccumulate up the food chain. Enjoy wild salmon and other wild fish (salmon is my favorite for anti-aging), grassfed meat, and pasture raised poultry to avoid antibiotics, which disrupt the harmony in your gut, and hormones, which can disrupt your endrocrine system.
- Try a new recipe! Toss chopped veggies such as broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and carrots with coconut or olive oil and your favorite spices (I love cumin, turmeric, paprika, sea salt and pepper). Throw on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 45 minutes, stirring halfway through.
7. Pay attention to digestion
Digestion takes up energy in your body, especially when food is difficult to digest or we overeat. The less time your body spends on digestion, the more “beauty energy” it has left over to do clean up, detox, and support the immune system.
We want to make sure everything is moving and flowing through our digestive system and making its way toward the exit. Constipation is very stagnating and aging for the body; when waste sits in your digestive system for too long without being eliminated, the toxins can actually be reabsorbed back into the body, which is not beautifying!
How to do it:
- Pay attention to what foods digest easily, and which don’t; avoid those that are a burden on your system.
- Take a soil based organism probiotic daily – right now I’m using this one.
- Allow 12 hours between dinner and breakfast to give your system a break and allow time for cleansing and detox.
- Drink warm water between meals to aid digestion, alone or with lemon, ginger or herbal tea.
- If needed, try oxygenated magnesium at night to help with elimination – I love Kimberly Snyder’s Detoxy for this.
8. Maintain and nourish relationships
Positive relationships so crucial for our health and wellbeing. Isolation, loneliness and lack of emotional support are linked to death and disease in studies and are profoundly aging. So give hugs, call someone you need to catch up with, invite someone for tea, join a new group and be open to new connections. Nourish those relationships that serve you and don’t be afraid to cut ties with people that bring toxic energy into your life.
How to do it: you attract love by spreading it to others 🙂
9. Get your beauty sleep
There’s a reason it’s called beauty sleep! While lack of sleep causes visible signs of aging (we’ve all experienced this!), good quality sleep helps repair damage to the skin, such as sun exposure.
Lack of sleep also disrupts the hormones that control appetite, making you hungrier and more prone to weight gain. We should all aim for eight hours.
How to do it: To support quality sleep, exercise, get natural sun exposure during the day, limit caffeine and stimulants, and avoid screens (TV, computer, phone) an hour before bed. Create a night time ritual, such as reading (a real book or magazine so the light doesn’t keep you up!), turning on a humidifier and enjoying some soothing music or nature sounds.
I hope these tips inspired you! There’s a lot of information here, so don’t get overwhelmed – welcome in one new practice at a time. When you start adopting a few of these you’ll see that they’re all synergistic and build off of eachother – for example, exercise may make you crave healthier food, good sleep may support a better attitude, massage may help you sleep better, and on and on. You’ll start to experience what I like to call an “upward spiral” and then you know you’re on the right track!
If you have an anti-aging practice you want to share or have any questions, please reach out to me or comment below.
Here’s to your health 🙂 Lots of love,