Aging has a lot to do with attitude. As George Bernard Shaw put it: “You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” But there has to be more you can do, no? To find out, we asked a few experts how to deal with the most annoying signs.
1. Mood and Hormonal Shifts
Hormones shift throughout life, with levels of sex hormones rising during puberty, fluctuating every month (and with pregnancy) for women, and dropping in later years. And then, says Erika Schwartz, MD, a leader in natural hormone balancing and author of The New Hormone Solution, “Irritability is the classic story.”
Age-related changes in sex hormones get a lot of attention but our hormones all work together. As estrogen and testosterone levels drop, so do serotonin and dopamine, which influence mood. And so, we have grumpy old men, and women. Memory and focus problems, anxiety, and even palpitations can be other symptoms
In addition, says Schwartz, many women become depressed because they feel as though they’re losing their identity and have become invisible. All too often, doctors prescribe antidepressants which can make matters worse, depleting the urge to have sex and causing weight gain in some people. “The drugs are adding insult to whatever is left of their identity as a younger woman,” she says.
What to Do About Hormonal Shifts
Recognize that changes need to be made and daily habits make a big difference. “Once you’re in your 40s, 50s, and beyond, you cannot eat the way you did in your 20s and 30s,” says Schwartz. “And if you’re sedentary, your bones will fall apart, your brain will fall apart, and you will fall apart.” Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do. Here’s what she recommends:
- Include protein at each of three daily meals and cut back on starches and sugars. Eat whole foods instead of “low-carb” or “low-fat” processed foods in packages. If you need to snack, go for berries and nuts but, cautions Schwartz, “Don’t eat a gallon of them.”
- Eat only when you’re hungry.
- Make it a priority to move more. Schwartz recommends setting an alarm or reminder to get up and move around every 45 minutes—walk in a circle or in place, but move.
- Right after getting out of bed in the morning, spend 20 minutes stretching and doing a few other exercises, such as sit-ups, leg raises, arm raises, yoga—whatever works for you, but schedule it into your day.
- Try other activities, such as Pilates, swimming, dancing, hiking, or biking, always warming up before and stretching afterward.
- Take basic, essential supplements: a multivitamin, magnesium, probiotics, fish oil, and vitamin D. And consider hormone-balancing ingredients such as DIM (diindolylmethane) and indole-3-carbinol (I3C), found in cruciferous vegetables but much more concentrated in supplements.
- If you do all the right things and continue to have difficulty, find a health professional trained in natural hormone therapy. Places to check include “Find a Doc” at agemed.org and naturopathic.org.
2. Saggy Skin
“Sagging comes from genetics and a breakdown of collagen, not so much the sun,” says says Kally Papantoniou, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology, PC, in Great Neck, N.Y. Stress, lack of sleep, and an unhealthy diet accelerate the breakdown. And losing a lot of weight can also contribute to sags.
A combination of resistance and aerobic exercise will help to tone muscles and reduce sags below the neck. But with age, there’s naturally a certain amount of volume lost in the face, giving it a saggy or jowly look. Aside from a full face lift, there are minimally invasive fillers, mild lifting procedures, and laser and other treatments that stimulate collagen
production. And, the right nutrients can definitely help.
What to Do for Sagging Skin
Eating collagen, in bone broth or collagen supplements, doesn’t mean the collagen will go directly into your skin. However, says Papantoniou, “It gives your body building blocks for making collagen.”
- Drink bone broth and/or take collagen supplements.
- Take the supplements listed below for crepey skin.
3. Age Spots and Crepey Skin
“They come from cumulative sun damage—not last summer, but earlier in life,” says Papantoniou. “In your 40s, you see damage from your 20s.” Tanning beds are especially harmful because there are no filters from gases and particles in the atmosphere, as there are outdoors. Drinking and smoking make things worse.
While you can’t turn back time, skin cells turn over throughout life, and using sunscreen and getting the right foods and supplements will make new cells healthier in several ways. Sunscreen will reduce further harm. Avoiding sugar and starches will reduce the breakdown of collagen, which supports skin structure, and maintain levels of elastin, which makes skin supple and helps to reduce crepiness. Avoiding dairy and, for some people, gluten, reduces inflammation that speeds up skin aging. And antioxidants reduce and repair UV damage.
What to Do to Treat Crepey Skin
Papantoniou has found that many people put sunscreen on their face, but forget the neck and chest where the skin becomes thinner and crepey. In addition to eating a good diet and taking basic, essential supplements, she recommends the following:
- Extra vitamin A from cod-liver oil, for a total of 1,000 to 5,000 IU daily.
- Extra vitamin C from camu camu powder, 500 to 1,000 mg daily
- Extra vitamin D3, for a total of 2,000 to 5,000 IU daily, but it’s best to get vitamin D levels tested.
- Additional antioxidants such as Pycnogenol, grapeseed extract, lycopene, and/or resveratrol.
4. Hair Loss
Some people have a genetic predisposition to lose their hair, but hormonal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies also play a role. “The most common reasons for hair loss, especially for women, are an underactive thyroid and stress,” says Mache Seibel, MD, author of The Estrogen Window. An imbalance of other hormones can also contribute.
Pulling hair back tightly, wearing extensions, and styling with high heat can break hair. More fragile when wet, hair should always be treated gently.
What to Do to Reduce Hair Loss
While individual hormone balancing is something addressed by trained practitioners, a good diet and basic, essential supplements build a healthy foundation to support the thyroid and other hormones. In addition, Seibel recommends:
- Reduce stress by relaxing, getting enough sleep, and turning off TVs and other devices a couple of hours before bed. If you watch TV in the evening, stay away from news after 6 p.m.
- Avoid toxic hair products and toxins in general, as the thyroid is especially vulnerable to toxins.
- Take biotin supplements for healthy hair and nails.
“The most common reasons for hair loss, especially for women, are an underactive thyroid and stress,” says Mache Seibel, MD, author of The Estrogen Window. Depletion or imbalance of other hormones also contribute.
5. Low Energy
All too often, we look for quick energy fixes, but sustaining energy takes a more holistic approach, which Seibel calls “the sum of you.” Otherwise, he says, “It’s like having three good tires and one flat one.” A whole-food, low-carb, preferably organic diet that supports hormone balance; daily exercise; good-quality sleep; stress control; and essential supplements lay the foundation.
“I also use adaptogenic herbs, such as rhodiola and eleuthero,” says Robert Kachko, ND, LAc, a naturopathic physician and acupuncturist in New York. Adaptogens are viewed as tonics that can have an energizing or calming effect, depending upon what’s needed at a given time. They make it possible to enhance energy without causing jitters or interfering with sleep. B-complex vitamins also support and stabilize energy.
Did you know?
Acupuncture can be used to revitalize your face. It stimulates collagen production, improves circulation, and makes skin glow.
What to Do for Increased Energy
- Get enough protein: about 40 to 50 gm daily for most women and 50 to 70 gm daily for most men.
- Stay hydrated. Water is best. Drink half your body weight in ounces, e.g., 75 ounces for a 150-lb. person.
- Try rhodiola, eleuthero, or an adaptogenic herbal formula.
- Take a B-complex supplement.
Create a Spa-Worthy Drink
Add a scoop of collagen to a glass of water. This is best absorbed in the morning, before breakfast. Look for a “hydrolyzed collagen” that is broken down into smaller peptides for better absorption, such as COUNTRY LIFE Maxi-Skin (in Vitality or Zen). Maxi-Skin Zen also includes vitamins A and C, and is available in unflavored, Mandarin Orange, and Berry flavors, which makes it easy to use alone or add to any smoothie.
MEET THE EXPERT: Tracy Kreider, ND, is a naturopathic doctor and senior national product educator for Country Life Vitamins.
Adaptogens and Aging
Adaptogens are the best natural ingredients to help balance and restore the body. As we age, it is more difficult to manage the damaging effects of chronic stress on the body. Adaptogenic herbs like ashwagandha and cordyceps raise the body’s resistance to stressors, whether physical, chemical, or biological. They can improve mood, stamina, energy, memory, endurance, and sleep quality. DreamBrands Mdrive Classic for men was formulated with powerful, restoring adaptogens at levels shown to be effective in clinical studies.
MEET THE EXPERT: DreamBrands CEO Cecile Kehoe holds an M.S. in physical chemistry and a B.S. in chemistry, cum laude from St. John’s University.
Look and Feel Younger with Collagen
Starting around the age of 25, you’ll start to lose about 1 percent of your collagen each year. A lower collagen level is a major factor in duller hair, wrinkled and drier skin, weaker nails, achy joints, and less-toned bodies. Adding high doses of hydrolyzed collagen peptides to your diet helps replenish your body’s collagen naturally, which helps you look and feel younger. Health Direct AminoSculpt contains medical-grade collagen peptides used by approximately 4,700 doctors, hospitals, and health professionals for over 35 years.
MEET THE EXPERT: Jim Caras is founder of Health Direct and author of How to Completely Reshape Your Body! He has written and lectured on collagen for over 20 years.
Boost Your Brain Health
Think of your brain like a bank account. Every time you learn something new, play a challenging game, or read a book, you’re depositing a dollar into that account. The more deposits you’ve made, the more you have to spare. This is a concept called reserve, and it explains why people with higher levels of education have a lower risk of dementia. And take a supplement like Natrol Cognium, formulated to protect brain cells from oxidative stress, and improve memory and concentration.
MEET THE EXPERT: Mike Dow, PsyD, is a psychotherapist and the New York Times bestselling author of The Brain Fog Fix and Healing the Broken Brain.
Glow from the Inside Out
To enhance professional treatments we conduct in my practice and support collagen synthesis, I advise collagen supplementation, such as with NeoCell Super Collagen, a tasteless powder easily added to your morning smoothie or protein shake. It not only boosts natural healing, but also supports depleting collagen levels from the inside out. It’s excellent for my patients who suffer from dehydrated, lackluster skin.
MEET THE EXPERT: Julie E. Russack, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist, fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology, and founder of the Russak Dermatology Clinic in New York City.
Support a Sharper Mind
As we age, memory tends to decline. Quincy Bioscience Prevagen is safe and well-researched. It includes a protein that is backed by extensive research including randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies on human subjects to support improved memory, sharper mind, and clearer thinking, and a healthier brain overall.
MEET THE EXPERT: Ward W. Bond, PhD, is a nutritionist who hosts the daily television show Think Natural and a weekly radio show, Life Changing Wellness.
Raising hGH Levels Naturally
Human growth hormone (hGH) has been linked to a number of anti-aging benefits, such as reduced wrinkles, tightening of saggy skin, decreased body fat, increased lean muscle mass, improved mood, and even boosted energy. Injections of hGH are controversial, however. It’s preferable to raise hGH levels naturally by encouraging production in the pituitary—the gland in which hGH is produced. SanMedica International SeroVital-hgh works by nourishing the pituitary gland, encouraging it to produce hGH at more youthful levels. It’s been clinically shown to increase hGH levels naturally by 682 percent.
MEET THE EXPERT: Amy L. Heaton, PhD, is adjunct professor at Pennington Biomedical Center in Baton Rouge, La., and has been working in biochemistry and human clinical research for over 15 years.
Repair and Grow Hair
When hair extensions were breaking my hair, I took them all out and took Viviscal every day. After three months, I saw a huge difference, and I still take it. If your hair is weakened easily and you color your hair, or for men, if you see hair loss, don’t wait; fix the problem early so you can save the hair that is already there. I use it, so I know Viviscal works. Be a bit patient and make sure you stick to it, and you will see a major difference.
MEET THE EXPERT: Jennifer Yepez is a professional hairstylist whose work has appeared in top fashion magazines, including Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire, and in notable fashion shows including Dolce and Gabbana and Vera Wang.
Nutrients to Reverse Aging
Some nutrients work in many different ways, and their overall effect promises to reverse aging by slowing down the degeneration of cells or revitalizing them. They may be found as individual supplements or in formulas.
Found in a variety of berries, other fruits, herbs, and myrtle bark and leaves, myricetin is in the nutrient family of flavonoids, beneficial nutrients in plants. A review of lab and animal studies, published in the journal Nutrients, found that it is a strong antioxidant and helps to protect against sun damage, weight gain, cancer, diabetes, unhealthy blood clotting, high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, allergies, bone problems, immune system malfunctions, bacterial infections, disorders of the liver, heart, eyes, and the nervous system, and may relieve pain.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC):
A form of cysteine, an amino acid, NAC helps the human body to make a major internal antioxidant, glutathione. Human studies have found NAC to be helpful for chronic bronchitis, flu prevention, angina (in conjunction with nitroglycerin), and colon cancer prevention among people with polyps, and to enhance fertility treatment in women.
Green Tea Extract:
Listed on labels as epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, the extract has shown many benefits in studies, including protecting against flu, sunburn, and colon, prostate, and lung cancers; reducing cholesterol and triglycerides; helping to relieve Crohn’s disease; and enhancing weight loss.
Vitamin E in nature is a family of nutrients and one of these is gamma-tocotrienol. Studies have found that it prevents and inhibits cancer and growth of other tumors, protects against heart disease and stroke, and helps lower blood pressure and blood sugar.