“You’re as young as you feel.”
Though this adage is true, it doesn’t placate the ever-widening gulf between what you feel and what you see in the mirror. Crow’s feet, laugh lines, and sagging skin aren’t the thing we humans look forward to; neither does “feeling” young make ageing easier to accept.
If you come from money, you can perhaps delay fine lines for a bit longer. But don’t they say that precaution is better than cure?
Recapturing or holding onto your youth doesn’t always involve a cosmetologist, but it does require phasing out of a number of bad habits. These habits can not only slow down ageing but can also make you healthier; all in all, you can have the coveted duo – youth and health.
This September, as we celebrate Healthy Ageing Month, let’s look into what can speed up ageing and what helps delay it.
- Say Bye to Sleep Deprivation
While we sleep, our body works hard to restore all energy it lost through the day. It attempts to get rid of toxins and repair itself. After a stressful day, a restful snooze is exactly what your body needs to recuperate and get ready for the next challenge.
While this is the case for a good night’s sleep, only the opposite can be said for sleep deprivation. The ill-effects of less sleep usually seep into the next day and wreak havoc with not only the daily routine but also with hormones – the chemicals that adjust the internal workings of your body.
In fact, just one less hour of sleep every night can increase the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) by ten times, which can, in turn, throw sugar levels off balance and interfere with the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH), an important anti-ageing hormone. It also leads to oxidative stress, which can rob you of your youth when paired with the aforesaid hormonal cascade.
- No to Chronic Dehydration
Everyday bodily functions like breathing, sweating and excreting require a lot of water. Be it lubricating the joints or flushing toxins from the body, water plays an essential role in the bodily systems. For a healthy body, these processes need to work right.
Dehydration occurs when a body doesn’t have enough water and fluids to function normally. And, while it can happen to anyone, it is a common occurrence as you age. Due to ageing, thirst lessens and the kidneys aren’t able to conserve water as they used to.
Chronic dehydration is a precursor of sagging skin. Water not only hydrates the body on a cellular level, but also restores elasticity to the skin, which adds a youthful glow to the skin. Make sure to drink at least 2-3 litres of water every day to retain your soft, supple skin for a longer period of time.
- Avoid Too Much Stress
Chronic stress leads to persistently high levels of cortisol, which can be the grounds for the development of potentially life-threatening conditions like:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Gastrointestinal issues
Not only does stress (and these diseases) take the years off your life, it adds premature wrinkles and fine lines to your skin.
However, this was just the tip of the iceberg. High cortisol levels are known to leach the body of essential minerals (like Vit B5, B6) and vitamin C, which add a healthy glow to the skin and are vital for proper functioning of the immune system.
Reducing stress isn’t all that hard. Exercising regularly and practicing meditation can go a long way in doing that. Even a quick 5-minute session will offer you the much-needed cathartic release.
Hence, regulating stress and working out regularly can improve both physical and mental health. Remember, healthy mind resides in a healthy body.
- Give Sugar the Boot
We all know sugar is bad, but it can have a dramatic effect on our skin as well. The building blocks of sugar, fructose and glucose, like to bind with elastin and collagen, two proteins that help protect the skin. This process, eventually, leads to the formation of AGEs. No, not the ageing “age”, it refers to Advanced Glycation End-products, which are toxic compounds that affect the elasticity of the skin. Not only that, it can cause a multitude of complications, such as fast-track diabetes.
So, it’s better to ditch sugar altogether and switch to natural sweeteners.
- Right Diet is Always Right
The world has always been amazed by the life expectancy of Japanese people, who touch the age of 100 more often than the citizens of any other country. This feat is often accredited to their diet and physical activity (Japanese people usually prefer walking over taking a car, wherever possible).
Also, drinking green tea and eating nuts can boost longevity. Eating healthy fats like omega-3s can not only help boost health but life as well. Telomeres, the end-tips of chromosomes, are known to shrink with age. When they become too short, cells can no longer divide; they become senescent and inactive, i.e. cells die. Basically, eating nuts decreases the chances of developing cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes.
It cannot be disputed that age takes a toll on the body. The decreasing levels of collagen and elastin make it difficult to maintain the sparkle of youth. Worse yet, repeated exposure to the sun’s UV rays leads to some serious skin damage that only accumulates over time. It is no wonder that all the above factors paired with the harsh effect of the sun lead to discoloured spots, dullness, and wrinkles.
While going under the knife might help you stall ageing for a good while, improving your lifestyle will help you even when you reach those “golden years” from where there is no coming back. Beyond the little things we all do to look and feel our best, following some science-backed lifestyle choices can really help in turning back the clock.