When it comes to aging, wrinkled, and sagging skin, we tend to think of slathering our skin with the latest beauty product to reduce lines and imperfections. There’s a good chance we also spend money on expensive surgeries and treatments to take the years off our face.
Truth is, aging is more than just skin deep. From inflammation to stress to a diet lacking in nutrients, this can all affect aging and in turn, show up on our skin in the form of wrinkles, dullness, dryness and sagging skin.
There are many elements that help to slow the aging process. From diet and exercise, to reducing stress and of course choosing the right beauty care products; you can take years off your skin naturally and without a hefty price tag. Below, are 10 ways to slow the aging process naturally.
1. Ditch The Sugar
We are well aware of the detrimental effect sugar can have on our health and in spiking our blood sugar levels, but it can also dramatically age our skin and steal away our youthfulness. Excess sugar, mainly glucose and fructose, like to team up with collagen and elastin, two skin protective proteins, and dehydrate them. This process is called advanced glycation end product, AGE for short. How fitting, right?
Due to glycation, your skin loses its elasticity and starts to look dull and less vibrant. Those individuals who have a history of high blood sugar levels or are pre-diabetic, tend to have far higher levels of sugar bound to protein in the skin and in turn, age faster.
2. Go Gluten-Free
This is really for the same reason as above. Unfortunately, due to the hybridization of modern wheat, 2 slices of whole wheat bread can spike blood sugar levels more than 2 tablespoons of pure sugar can. So, you guessed it! Glycation occurs simply by eating glutinous grains and breads. Gluten has also been shown to affect mineral absorption and assimilation in the gut, leaching vital minerals and nutrients that help to support the health of our skin. Going gluten free has its many benefits, however, the downfall lies in the many starches, fillers and added sugars in many gluten free brands. Be cautious when purchasing gluten free products and become a label detective. If you see potato starch, rice starch, cornstarch or tapioca starch making up the bulk of ingredients, all you’re really doing is replacing gluten with other starches. My suggestion is, opt for naturally gluten free foods, such as rice or quinoa or ditch the breads and pasta all together — and eat more veggies!
3. Drink More Water
Chronic dehydration is a common culprit of aging skin. From lubricating our joints to helping flush toxins from our body, water is important for so many reasons. Water helps to restore elasticity to the skin and hydrates us on a cellular level, which helps to plump up our skin and add a more youthful glow. Based on activity levels and lifestyle, everyone’s water requirements are different. As a general rule, approximately 2L of water a day is sufficient to help keep your youthful glow, support bowel health and assist in daily detoxification.
4. Reduce Stress
Chronically high levels of cortisol, your stress hormone, leads to many harmful and potentially life-threatening diseases. From heart disease to asthma, diabetes, obesity and gastrointestinal problems, chronic stress is literally taking the years off your life and adding many wrinkles to your skin. High cortisol levels robs your body of essential minerals, such as vitamin B5, B6 and vitamin C, which are all important for immune health, stress reduction and for healthy glowing skin. Make it a point to reduce stress by practicing deep breathing exercises, meditating, attending a yoga class, taking a walk outside or enjoying a hot bath before bed. Even a quick 5-minute workout can give you that cathartic release you need. It is vital to take time in your day for yourself, which in turn will lead to greater mental and emotional health and a more youthful glow.
5. Load Up On Antioxidants
We are exposed to numerous toxins and chemicals on a daily basis, all of which create free radical damage in our cells. Our own metabolic process can create free radical damage as well. Add to this a poor diet, stress, inactivity and inflammation, and you’ve got a cascade of free radical damage scouring around your body, leaching vital minerals and causing premature aging. In order to combat free radical damage, we need antioxidants, such as vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene. These work to fight free radical damage, repair cells and stop the free radical cascade from affecting more cells and creating more damage. Vitamin C is critical for maintaining healthy and resilient skin. As we age, our skin loses more and more vitamin C, which can contribute to age spots and more wrinkles. Vitamin C helps with the formation of collagen, which helps to give your skin more elasticity. In fact, there are hundreds of antioxidants that help to prevent aging and cellular damage. In order to load up on these beautifying nutrients, it’s important to include a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet to ensure you are providing your body with an array of antioxidants and skin beauty nutrients.
6. Eat More Protein
Protein helps to slow insulin levels, which you want to keep in balance to avoid experiencing blood sugar highs and lows, weight gain and increase your risk of disease. Eating protein helps promotes stable blood sugar levels, which reduces stress on your body and keeps cortisol levels in check. Protein is also essential for helping to repair tissue as well as construct new tissue. In fact, collagen, which is one of the most valuable proteins in our body, helps to strengthen our skin, hair and nails. With adequate protein intake, you will reduce sagging skin, prevent premature aging and support health overall.
If you’re looking for a tasty, protein-packed recipe, check out this Portbello Breakfast Bake (pictured above). You’re welcome.
7. Lift More Weights
From optimal hormonal balance, to strong and sexy lean muscles, weight lifting is essential for bone health and maintaining a healthy weight. For tighter and firmer skin, weight lifting is one of the best exercises I recommend. Plus, having lean muscle mass means you burn calories more efficiently, you support healthy blood glucose levels, manage blood pressure and reverse oxidative stress, all of which can lead to premature aging if mismanaged.
8. Use Natural Beauty Care
As with anything we put on our skin, we absorb it into our blood stream and in turn have to eliminate it. From parabens to preservatives and toxic chemicals found in many beauty care products, not only are we increasing our toxic load, but also aging our skin at a faster rate. Although many beauty products contain the promise of less wrinkles and a more youthful glow, they in turn damage our gentle skin causing it to be more susceptible to infection, dryness and inflammation, while increasing the risks of imbalanced skin (either oily or dry), wrinkles, acne, and other skin conditions. Unfortunately, many store-bought brands contain the very ingredients that ruin and destroy our skin in the first place, leading to premature aging and more wrinkles.
Make sure your beauty products contain natural, safe ingredients. Often, DIY skincare is cheaper and better for you, such as these homemade makeup removers made from jojoba carrot seed oil and cucumber.
9. Get More Sleep
We all know that feeling of not getting a good night’s sleep. Of course fatigue will set in, but what’s worse is the hormonal cascade and imbalance that results from less sleep. Just one hour less of sleep per night can increase cortisol levels ten-fold, which can lead to oxidative stress and imbalanced blood sugar levels, all of which will rob you of your youthful glow. During sleep, our body works hard to repair and regenerate and rid itself of toxins, which we excrete upon our morning visit to the bathroom. Less sleep will result in less repair and also affect our body’s ability to produce human growth hormone, which is the king of all anti-aging hormones. Puffy eyes and wrinkles will also result from less sleep, so make it a point to get to bed at the same time every night and create a nighttime ritual to help your body unwind and de-stress.
10. Eat More Fat
Essential fatty acids such as omega 3s are important for heart health, hormone health and for combating inflammation. Having these 3 things in check will slow the aging process and prevent disease. Healthy fats, which you can obtain from avocadoes, fish, walnuts, coconut oil and olive oil, help to lubricate the skin internally, leading to more vibrant, radiant skin as well as protecting the skin from oxidative damage. Following these simple and effective tips will not only prevent wrinkles and fine lines, but protect your health overall, while also adding years to your life.