The question about the possibility of stopping the clock of ageing is being asked by many scientists all over the world, and the research is ongoing. There are those who believe that it is possible to extend life indefinitely, even though they are still to provide solid proof of it.
At present, we are nowhere near finding a solution to stopping the clock of ageing – not yet anyway. Nevertheless, we can all take steps to extending our own life, and improving its quality, by following these simple common sense rules:
1. Is an active mind the key to a healthy body?
Have you come across people well into their 80s and 90s who, although covered in wrinkles, radiate the aura of youth and vitality? What could be the secret to their youth? Could it be that they remain interested in life and everything it has to offer? An active mind helps to stop degeneration and death of the brain cells – one of the biggest scourges of old age. It has been researched to delay and even stop an onset of Alzheimer’s and other dieseases linked to ageing.
To achieve it, make sure that you have something to challenge your brain positively all the time – for example, learn to play an instrument, learn a new hobby, write a book which requires research, engage in sport, join an acting club, a political group, join a course, start a business – there are so many ways to keep your mind going. The longer it remains active, the more likely it is that your body will follow.
2. Chill out
A stressed mind damages the body in many ways. While a one-off stressful situation can be challenging but manageable, repeated stress is not good for us. And of course, there is chronic stress which is the most destructive of them all, leading to a release of cortisol – a hormone which leads to accumulation of cholesterol, metabolic waste and all sorts of toxins, thinning of the skin, inflammation of the skin – such as eczema, psoriasis, acne, cardiovascular conditions, arthritis, and even autoimmune disorders. Also, stress damages and destroys nerve and brain cells, which cannot be restored. Developing a flexible attitude to what is happening around you is the key to remaining healthy.
Stress management is an important part of our health routine. It involves not allowing ourselves to get into an anxious state over things which do not present immediate danger. It is important to train our mind to react calmly to changes in our surroundings. Learning to manage challenging situations can add decades to a life. As we grow older, our ability to quickly assess and react to a situation diminishes. Learning certain techniques can help. Look into NLP, self-hypnosis, tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique), breathing exercises, meditation.
3. Smoking makes us age so much faster!
Tobacco affects the cells way beyond the skin. The mouth, oesophagus, bronchial tubes and the lungs suffer most. They virtually turn black in people who smoke a lot, or moderately, but for a long time in their lives. Tobacco is loaded with toxins, one of which is heavy metal cadmium – a well-known, dangerous carcinogen. It causes blood vessels (especially peripheral) to shrink, which reduces blood flow to the limbs. This is why smokers have problems with circulation, and sometimes even lose their limbs to gangrene. Besides, when smoke gets into contact with the skin, it damages collagen and elastin fibers in the skin which become harder and a lot less elastic. This pulls layers of the skin together forming wrinkles.
4. Eat well – an enoy it!
We are what we eat. The body gets all the nutrients it needs from food. Imagine building a house. If you use poor quality building materials, the house will crumble, and eventually collapse. The same with the body. If you keep putting rubbish building materials into it, it will become sick, and will eventually collapse too. So make sure that the food you eat is balanced, and nutrient-rich.
No more than 30% of your daily calorie count should come from fats (and that’s not a lot of fat in weight, since it is a high-calorie product). The fat should be counted in all the foods you eat. 15% of your calorie count should come from protein, and the rest from complex carbohydrates which include fruit, vegetables, the fiber in them, pulses, brown rice, and other similar nutrient-rich foods. Plus, good food is bulky, so you can eat more, with fewer calories going into your body. Just be careful – you can still get too much of good food too. As we age, we need less food, due to a decline in base metabolic rate. About 25% less in calories in fact. If you get the balance between the intake and output right, you will be in good shape.
5. Drink plenty of water
About 70% of our body weight consists of water. Our body is an ocean which needs to be replenished all the time, to keep functioning at its fullest capacity. Every body cell needs water. If it doesn’t get it, it dies. Water is a medium for blood cells, lymph, it is needed in and outside the cells – to ensure delivery of nutrients and oxygen, and removal of metabolic waste and carbon dioxide. Water is also a medium for neurotransmitters between nerve cells, ensuring that messages get transmitted, and the body-mind stay connected.
When we don’t get enough water, we become disoriented, confused, may lose consciousness and even die. The skin suffers a lot when the body is dehydrated. You know that you are dehydrated when you press on the skin with a finger, and the dent doesn’t disappear straight away. Dehydration also shows as chapped lips, dry skin, circles under eyes. It can happen as a result of taking blood pressure medications (diuretics), electrolyte (salt-water) imbalance due to diarrhoea, cystitis, insufficient hydration, prolonged intense exercise (e.g. marathon run), sweating. Taking care of replenishing the salts can be as important as replenishing water, to keep up the electrolyte balance correct.
- Walk, run, swim – whatever you enjoy. Aerobic exercise is great for the heart!
- Do resistance training – lift weights, do sit-ups, and other resistance exercises.
- Yoga – apart from stretching the body, it also trains the mind. It is even more suitable and beneficial for older people than vigorous exercise.
Regular exercise has a lot of benefits on our body, mind and spirit. It strengthens them all. It enables us to cope with stress a lot more efficiently. It enables the mind to work faster and be more resilient. It promotes the release of endorphins (the happy hormones), so exercise means less doom and gloom, more positivity. The body gains the muscle which it starts to lose as we grow older.
More muscle tissue means faster base metabolic rate (the metabolic rate of the body when it is at rest). It also means less fat, so better health. The bones become stronger too as a result of exercise, due to improved metabolism and circulation. Blood vessels and heart muscle get a good workout with regular exercise too, which means reduced risk of heart failure or stroke. Regular exercise also tends to normalise cholesterol and blood pressure, and is great for weight management.
7. Remember antioxidants
“Some foods may actually combat the aging process because of the nutrients they contain. Under the free radical theory of aging, our bodies wear down as the result of cellular destruction by free radicals. These are molecules or atoms with an unattached electron, produced by normal body processes where oxygen is used, which seek to attach itself to another atom. These radicals can attach to a number of different molecules and atoms; if they attach to a cell’s mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), damage can occur and the cell may eventually die.” Source
So make sure that you eat the foods which are rich in vitamin C (tomatoes, lemons, oranges, spinach), carotenoids (carrots, apricots, peaches), Vitamin E (avocados, cold-pressed and unrefined vegetables oils, seeds, nuts), selenium (fish, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, whole grains), isoflavones (berries – such as blueberries – are rich in them), zinc (seafood, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds).
Yes, sleep is as important as food and water. It is needed so that our body can repair and detoxify itself. As we age, the body becomes less efficient at repairing the damage caused during the day. So we need more sleep as we age (not less as is commonly thought). 8-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep will ensure that the repair is completed.
If we don’t get the sleep the body needs for this, the damage remains, and the toxins stay in the body. The body becomes stressed, producing hormone cortisol, which causes inflammations. Unrepaired cells accumulate, and there is a higher chance of them mutating to cancerous cells. The skin appearance deteriorates. We generally age much more quickly when we chronically under-sleep. So do get those hours of sleep that you need.
9. Manage your hormones.
Hormone levels change as we age, both in men and women. With men it is the level of testosterone that is in decline, and with women it is both oestrogen and progesterone. This affects the sex drive. For women Hormone Replacement Therapy is on offer. It has its upsides and downsides. The upside is that women on HRT have a lower incidences of heart disease and osteoporosis. The downside is that it can increase a risk of cancer, especially linked to oesrogen (breast and ovarian cancer). There are ways to boost hormones naturally – using herbal remedies, such as sage, red clover, black cohosh, Evening Promrose oil, Wild Yam, and quite a few others.
For men, declining testosterone levels can be managed medically and naturally. The natural treatment includes using Wild Yam, Damiana, Saw Palmetto, Gotu Kola, Siberian Ginseng.
10. Hugs and love are important too
Whatever age we are, we need that “special someone”. A friend, a soulmate, a lover. Someone who would give us a hug when things go wrong, and say that it is going to be all right. Someone to confide in. Someone to hug and hold. Love and sex become more intertwined as we grow older. Perhaps declining sex hormones get replaced by the hormones which stimulate romantic love and attachment… Whatever the answer, a functioning relationship has been proven by science to increase life by as much as a decade, and perhaps even more. Keep those flames burning! It is never late to love and be loved.
11. Look after your skin
It is important to keep your skin hydrated. You don’t have to use expensive lotions, but definitely make sure that they have an SPF of 20 and over, to keep your skin protected from the damaging effects of ultraviolet rays. Exposure to the sun not only ages the skin prematurely, but is the most common cause of skin cancers. Plus, those “liver spots” you see on older skin have nothing to do with liver, do you know? It’s the result of sun damage too. So keep your skin protected.
The good thing to do is exfoliate the skin once a week, using mild exfoliator. If you have none, make your own using rolled oats and yogurt. Wash it off, apply a home-made face mask to suit your skin type for 15 minutes. Wash off, moisturise. Repeat the procedure weekly. But keep moisturising daily.
12. Indulge yourself with massage and other body treatments
Make sure that you have a body treatment which involves massage at least once a month.