There’s no shortage of products promising a youthful look and while some can reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, how you treat your body makes a difference. Healthy habits play a major role in how we age, but so does our mindset. “As we age, it’s important to remember that we are still the same person inside, even if our outside appearance has changed,” Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies reminds us.
She adds, “In the world of anti-aging, it’s easy to get caught up in looking younger and forgetting that our personality and inner beauty are what matter. Putting our best foot forward is essential, and in the world of anti-aging, that means our best face forwards. So let’s face it (no pun intended), our bodies sometimes age in a way that does not reflect our age, level of health and vitality, or personality, which can lead to unfortunate outcomes. We should all focus on being the best we can be at any age, which means remembering that it’s not all about how we look on the outside.”
While we can maintain a younger appearance with sunscreen and some anti-aging creams, staying youthful is also about positive lifestyle choices and the right attitude. Dr. Mitchell says, “Aging is a natural process that everyone must go through. While some people may view aging as a negative experience, having a growth mindset towards aging is essential. This means seeing the positive aspects of aging, such as the wisdom that comes with age. With age comes knowledge and understanding that can only be gained through life experience. Remembering that aging is a sign of good health is also essential. The fact that we can grow old is a testament to our good physical and mental health. Therefore, instead of seeing aging as a curse, we should see it as a blessing.” Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
Dr. William Li, physician, scientist, president and medical director of the Angiogenesis Foundation, and author of the upcoming Eat to Beat Your Diet: Burn Fat, Heal Your Metabolism, and Live Longer explains, “Although your chronological age (number of birthdays you’ve had) is a real reflection of your physical age, many people appear more youthful than their actual age because of their attitude. Having the energy to engage the world, continuously being curious and wanting to learn new things, staying physically and mentally active, and having strong social bonds with family and friends are all hallmarks of coming across as being youthful, regardless of your age.”
Dr. Mitchell says “As people age, it’s natural for them to start to feel like they are losing their youth. They may no longer be able to do the things they used to do and begin to feel like they are a burden on those around them. However, people need to have a positive outlook on aging. Growing older has many benefits, and people can live joyful and fulfilling lives by embracing aging. One of the best things about aging is that people have more time to do the things they love. They may no longer be able to work long hours, but they can spend more time with their families and friends, pursuing hobbies and enjoying life. In addition, older people often have a wealth of knowledge and experience that can be shared with others. They can mentor younger people, teach them new skills, and help them navigate life’s challenges. Finally, aging can be an opportunity for personal growth. As people age, they can reflect on their lives and learn from their mistakes. They can also improve their health and well-being and set new goals. Finally, people can make the most of this stage of life by having a positive outlook on aging.”
Dr. Li says, “To appear physically youthful, it’s important to start with the skin and hair. Skin that is smooth, soft, and glowing looks more youthful. Taking care to hydrate your skin daily, protecting it from sun damage, and making sure you are hydrated internally by drinking enough water all help. So does making sure you have a strong circulation. Good blood flow to the skin is important for youthful looking skin.
Exercise is very important because it stimulates blood flow. So does eating the right kinds of food. Some foods encourage more blood flow, like beets and spinach, while others stifle it, like red meat. All these moves can help to prevent or reduce the appearance of wrinkles. When it comes to hair, a youthful hairstyle (if you have hair) can aid in countering the appearance of aging. The adage is that you don’t have to ‘look your age”.
Dr. Mitchell emphasizes, “One of the worst decisions you can make for your health is smoking. Health problems associated with smoking cause damage to your whole body. Smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to get lung cancer, chronic (long-lasting) bronchitis, and other types of lung disease. These respiratory diseases make it hard to breathe. However, smoking also increases your risk for numerous cancers, such as bladder, esophageal, and pancreatic cancers.
Smoking can contribute to the clogging and hardening of arteries (atherosclerosis), leading to heart attacks, strokes, and peripheral vascular disease. Premature wrinkling and age-related yellowing of the skin are pretty standard. Smoking can start causing damage immediately. Within ten years of picking up a smoking habit, you may begin to see some of the following changes: dull, dry, or thinning hair, hangnails, increased wrinkles, less elasticity in the skin, more yellow eyes and teeth, slower healing of cuts and wounds, weakening sense of smell and taste, to name a few. Quitting smoking at any age can improve your health and help prevent some of these health problems from getting worse. It also helps repair some of the damage that’s been done from smoking over time so that you look and feel younger than smokers who don’t quit.”
Dr. Mitchell says, “Most people have experienced a time when they didn’t get enough sleep. Whether it was while raising young children, during a stressful time at work, or due to increased demands at home, the following day, we often look and feel tired. Chronic sleep deprivation is severe and shouldn’t be taken lightly for many reasons, one of which is that lack of sleep can accelerate the aging process. While we all know that getting older comes with some physical changes, such as wrinkles and gray hair, we may not realize that sleep deprivation can also lead to these changes. In addition to causing wrinkles and gray hair, lack of sleep can also lead to dry skin, dark circles under the eyes, and a decrease in collagen production. All of these changes can make us look older than we are. In addition to physical changes, sleep deprivation can also lead to cognitive decline.
So not only can lack of sleep make us look older, but it can also make us feel older. When we don’t get enough sleep, we may find that we are more forgetful, have trouble concentrating, and are more easily confused. These changes can make us feel like we are losing our sharpness as we age. Sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being, so if you’re not getting enough rest, you must make changes. Taking steps to get more restful sleep can help you look and feel your best at any age.”
According to Dr. Li, “Pre- and probiotic foods help to nurture your healthy gut bacteria, also known as your microbiome. When it is at its best, your gut microbiome secretes substances called short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that reduce inflammation in your body, help streamline your metabolism, and also influence your mental state by prompting your brain to release social “feel good” hormones. All of these actions by your gut bacteria will make you look and feel younger.”
Also eat foods that activate your health defenses. These five systems are: 1) angiogenesis (your circulation); 2) your stem cells (helps you regenerate your organs which is important for youthful function); 3) your gut microbiome (SEE ABOVE); 4) your DNA protection system (slows cellular aging); and 5) your immune system (lowering inflammation, and raising your protective shields against bacteria, viruses, and cancer growth). There are more than 200 foods that activate these systems. Most are plant-based foods, but they also include seafood. These foods not only strengthen your health defenses, but they also help your metabolism work more efficiently, giving your brain and muscles more energy. Conversely, you should cut down or cut off foods that damage your health defenses. These harmful foods include the ultra processed foods that are considered junk food.”
Dr. Mitchell adds, “For several reasons, a healthy diet is essential for a graceful aging process. Eating heavily processed junk food will accelerate the aging process because those foods contain little to no nutritional value and are full of unhealthy ingredients that can damage your cells. Processed and junk foods also tend to be high in sugar, contributing to wrinkles and other signs of aging. In contrast, a healthy diet includes foods rich in nutrients and antioxidants, which help protect cells from damage. These healthy foods can also help to boost collagen production, keeping skin looking young and supple. Furthermore, a healthy diet helps to support a robust immune system, which is essential for fighting off infections and diseases that can accelerate the aging process. Ultimately, eating a healthy diet is one of the best things you can do for yourself if you want to age gracefully.”
Dr. Mitchell says, “Regular exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy body and mind as we age. Exercise helps to improve cardiovascular health, increase bone density, boost brainpower, and ward off chronic diseases. Moreover, exercise can help improve our mood and reduce stress levels. In short, there are many ways in which exercise can help us age gracefully.
However, it is essential to remember that the benefits of exercise are cumulative. In other words, the more we exercise, the greater the benefits. That’s why it is so important to start exercising while we are young. So we can set ourselves up for a healthier, happier old age by establishing lifelong exercise habits.”