Have you ever thought it’s odd that birthdays are a celebration of aging?
I’m turning 50 this month and feel every year is worth celebrating. The bigger the number, the bigger the celebration!
This year for my birthday, I’m heading out with close friends and family on an evening snowshoe in the mountains of Park City to a yurt for a 4-course meal and live music.
Not everyone is as excited about aging. With years of gravity, injuries, illnesses, and toxin exposures, our bodies can start to feel burdened.
Whether you’re in your:
- 20s and 30s and think 50 sounds far away and old…
- 40s and 50s and are starting to notice your body changing…
- 60 and up and think 50 is young…
I’m going to share some healthy aging tips with you.
These are discoveries from my patients and myself that help us defy the effects of aging.
I’m going to avoid the term anti-aging because there’s no such thing! We are all getting older… every single day. No anti-aging cream, anti-aging serum, or anti-aging supplement will stop time from moving forward. And that is NOT a bad thing. Every day we get wiser, and we have the opportunity to live a vibrantly healthy life for many years to come.
While we may have to work a bit harder to remain healthy and fit, our 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond can be some of the best years of our lives.
How we think about aging is part of the issue. And how we care for our bodies day to day makes a difference.
Genetics plays a role in the way we age, but lifestyle can alter the ways our genes are expressed. So, we’re not stuck with the hand we’re dealt in life. We do have options that impact our health today and for years to come.
In my family, allergies, cardiovascular disease, and depression are a few of the health issues that numerous members of my family have struggled with. As I’ve grown older, I’ve seen some family members thrive while others struggled or passed away earlier than expected. I’ve also seen certain patterns that have helped direct the way I live my own life.
Looking at your own family patterns can help you know what your own aging process could look like. If you don’t know your family or if you want to know which genes you inherited, you can do genetic testing. However, there are certain lifestyle factors across the board (regardless of your genetic predispositions) that help you live a long, healthy life.
The biggest age accelerators are:
- Inadequate nutrition
- Toxin exposures
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Excess sun exposure
- Poorly managed stress
- Unresolved trauma
- Unaddressed injuries
- Infections and dysbiosis
The good news is there are ways to address these age accelerators.
12 Ways to Resolve Age Accelerators
1. Eat nourishing foods and avoid toxic ones.
Eating healthy is easier than most people realize. Eating foods close to nature is key. Choose organic, locally grown, and seasonal as much as possible. Consume a variety of fiber-rich colorful fruits, veggies, and legumes to help support your gut health and provide antioxidants that protect against oxidative damage. Include healthy fats such as olives, coconut, and avocados. For omnivores, be sure your meat is organic, free-range, and grass-fed and your fish is wild for optimal nutrition and to reduce toxin exposures. (For a list of foods to avoid as well as top foods to eat, check out my books Clean Skin From Within and Natural Beauty Reset.)
2. Move your body.
In today’s world, we sit in front of screens too often and for too long, but that is rapidly aging our bodies. Get up and move your body. What exercise should you choose? The one you’ll do! Find a movement you enjoy and that feels good to your body. That’s the kind that’s sustainable and that brings you results. Ideally, this will be a combination of stretching, cardio, and strength training. As we age, changes in balance and flexibility can create major risks for injuries, so performing exercises that support your balance is essential.
3. Reduce toxins in the places where you have control.
Toxins are everywhere around us – in our air, water, food, and personal care products. Some of these exposures we don’t have control over so focus your efforts on the ones where you have control – choose organic and clean foods and drinks, swap out plastic with glass, ceramic, or stainless steel containers, switch to non-toxic cleaning supplies, and replacing toxic skincare products with clean ones. Toxins can also appear in surprising places like alcoholic beverages and even clothing and furniture.
4. Use non-toxic skincare products that nourish your skin.
There are many so-called “natural” or “hypoallergenic” skincare products in the market today, but most of them still contain toxic ingredients. Unfortunately, the FDA does not regulate these claims nor do they have strict standards on the ingredients in personal care products.
Skin care products marketed as anti-aging creams, anti-aging serums, and other anti-aging skin care often contain some of the most toxic ingredients.
Choose truly clean skincare products but don’t stop there. You also want them to nourish your skin and support your skin’s natural barrier function. Your skin has a beautiful skin pH and microbiome that helps keep your skin healthy and aging gracefully rather than rapidly, so it’s important to give it the nourishment it needs.
5. Only take medication when necessary.
While some medications are necessary, like a round of antibiotics to treat a life-threatening bacterial infection, many medications people take on an ongoing basis can be age accelerators. Some medications, like birth control pills, can create nutritional deficiencies and gut microbiome disturbances. Talk to your healthcare provider before stopping any medication to determine if this is something you need to be taking and for how long. Most medications are intended to be taken for a short term, but people often stay on them longer than necessary.
6. Don’t wait or put off taking care of health issues.
It’s easy to get busy with life and delay important screening tests like colonoscopies or put off addressing aches, pains, and other ongoing symptoms.
The longer you delay, the harder it may be for doctors to help treat your health issues.
When symptoms arise, it’s a sign that something is out of balance within the body, so pay attention to the warning and get help. If your doctor recommends something invasive and expensive or it doesn’t feel right, it’s wise to get a second opinion. Taking care of health issues also means addressing root causes such as hormonal and gut imbalances.
7. Manage stress as it arises.
Stress is part of life. We can’t live without it, but if we don’t manage stress it can be one of the biggest age accelerators. Cortisol and other stress hormones are essential for living, but when they’re too high for too long, they can worsen skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and rosacea. A high level can also lead to sugar cravings—and eating excess sugar increases inflammatory skin issues and unhealthy weight gain. There are many ways to manage stress such as the next five items below on this list.
8. Laugh, play, travel, and love.
What’s the point in aging if we’re not enjoying our lives? In addition to making life more enjoyable, laughter, play, travel, and love can boost our feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin and hormones like oxytocin and reduce stress hormones like cortisol. I encourage you to get in touch with your inner child to get out, laugh and play!
9. Build a community of healthy people.
You are who you hang out with. Research shows that who we spend time with impacts our lifestyle choices, so if we spend time with healthy people we’re more likely to embrace healthy habits. Studies also show that our microbiomes (especially skin and gut) are impacted by the people around us. Due to work and living situations, you can’t always control who you’re with but I encourage you to find support groups, memberships, and other communities that embrace healthy eating and active and emotionally aware lifestyle choices.
10. Pray, meditate, breathe, and express gratitude.
Pick your favorite(s) and start today. If you already do one but not the others, try adding them to your daily routine. It only takes a few minutes in your day to say a prayer, close your eyes and focus on breathing in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 5 and thanking someone. These simple acts can instantly drop cortisol levels and boost your feel-good neurotransmitters. It’s free and easy. Plus, you may brighten someone’s day with words of gratitude.
11. Continue to work on your relationships.
Love and boundaries go a long way in relationships. Most of us struggle with boundaries and have a history of hurts and heartaches. There are ways to address this pain rather than ignore or fight it. Rather than continue to let people hurt you or cut them out of your life, see if there are ways to work through your differences. Oftentimes our family members and partners can provide us with big growth opportunities. However, if someone is physically or emotionally abusing you, get help, and do not let this continue to impact you or other loved ones around you. You deserve loving, healthy relationships in your life.
12. Spend time outdoors and appreciate the beauty in nature.
Studies have indicated that spending time in nature helps alleviate stress, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. Being outdoors also helps support our gut and skin microbiomes, which is linked to longevity. When we take in the beauty in nature through our senses, it reminds us there is something greater that connects us all and makes life worth living fully.
Ideally, we do these twelve things every single day. If that seems daunting, start with a few and move your way up to as many as possible. At some point, it becomes intuitive. You’ll feel so good embracing this in your life, you won’t want to go a day without them. I know it’s possible. It’s how I live my own life, and I want this for you too because I know how great it feels – and because you deserve it today and for the years to come.
The Spa Dr.® Approach
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