3 key strategies
to slow the hands of time
TIP 1:EAT A RAINBOW
The old adage that says you get out of life what you put into it also applies to your diet. A poor diet can have far-reaching ripple effects on your health—but so can a good diet, even if its effects aren’t immediately apparent, says Manuel Villacorta, MS, RD, author of Peruvian Power Foods: 18 Superfoods, 101 Recipes and Anti-Aging Secrets from the Amazon to the Andes. Villacorta points to the importance of “nutritional investment”—in other words, how you treat yourself in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond will determine how you look and feel in the following decades of your life. “Aging is not just about looks, and we’re living longer now,” he says. “As our cells go through cycles of regeneration, it’s important to keep vital organs like the heart and kidneys functioning properly.”
Villacorta advocates the increased consumption of brightly colored fruits and vegetables. “They provide important phytochemicals and antioxidants, which provide different health benefits,” he says. For example, orange, yellow, and red are typically higher in certain antioxidants such as beta-carotene. One bright red fruit emerging as a superfood is lychee, native to China, which is exceptionally rich in polyphenols, antioxidants that fight signs of aging on the outside, such as brown spots on the skin, and on the inside by protecting the heart.
Dark-green vegetables have a different nutrient and antioxidant profile. “Kale is a great green, and so is spinach because they contain lutein,” says Villacorta. Green foods supplements (e.g., wheat grass) are a concentrated, convenient way to get the benefits of these foods. And purple foods like blueberries, blackberries, red cabbage, and purple potatoes are rich in anthocyanins, which are potent anti-aging phytochemicals.
A diet rich in fresh, organic, and colorful, plant-based foods is the best way to combat the effects of our modern processed food diet, a primary cause of accelerated aging, says Raymond Francis, MD, author of Never Feel Old Again. Supplements are also important piece of the nutritional puzzle when it comes to the aging process. “Due to the compromised state of our food supply, supplements have become a necessity for virtually everyone,” he says. Therefore, he recommends taking a quality multivitamin in tandem with a healthy diet.
CATCH MORE ZZZS
Researchers have long extolled the virtues of getting a good night’s sleep, linking chronic sleep deprivation to obesity, diabetes, cancer, and immune deficiency. But did you know that bad sleeping habits also increase the visible signs of aging in our skin?
In a recent clinical trial, researchers studied groups of pre-menopausal women between the ages of 30–49 and found the skin of poor-quality sleepers to be more prone to fine lines, uneven pigmentation, and reduced elasticity. In short, poor sleep weakens the skin’s ability to repair itself at night. “Nothing will age you faster than sleep deprivation,” says Gregory Vassilev, MD, a board-certified physician and anti-aging specialist. “Most of the ‘housekeeping’ in your body is done when you sleep, and each sleep stage has its function and is equally important to a healthy state of being.”
How can you ensure you get close to the recommended 8 hours a night? Vassilev suggests consuming only light foods early in the evening, as well as limiting the consumption of caffeinated beverages to early in the day or mid-morning. Try going easy on foods and beverages like wine, aged cheese, beer, and dark chocolate, which are naturally high in tyramine, an amino acid with stimulant-like properties. And taking 30-60 minutes to unwind or meditate before bedtime also gives the mind a chance to sort through most issues that might prevent you from falling asleep later on.
Because hormone imbalance could also be a sleep thief, DHEA and other testosterone-boosting supplements for men, and natural progesterone cream for women, may be effective. Natural sleep aids such as valerian and melatonin (taken within one hour of desired sleep) can also help with sleeplessness. Melatonin, a hormone released by the pineal gland, is also a powerful antioxidant; melatonin production declines with age, and it is being studied as an anti-aging therapy.
DIFFUSE STRESS IN HEALTHY WAYS
Stress is often evident in a haggard expression and exhausted body. And studies show the damage in the body is very real—chronic stress has been linked to damaged DNA and a wide range of diseases. So it makes sense to do all you can to minimize daily stress and practice relaxation.
Moreover, it’s important not to let “stress eating” take over, which can compound health problems. In his book The Emotion Code, Bradley Nelson, MD, discusses the connection between stress and a depleted immune system—especially when emotional eating is a factor. “When you feel stressed, your best choice is to feed your body the healthiest things you can find, because unhealthy foods will actually increase your stress level,” he says. “Think about it: the last time you were stressed out, and you ate a whole box of chocolates, how did you feel afterward? Less stressed? I doubt it!”
When anxiety hits, Nelson suggests stress eaters skip anything with a label and reach for natural whole foods like almonds (rich in vitamin E); blueberries (high in antioxidants); coconut (high in natural anti-fungal compounds); spinach (rich in magnesium); nuts like pistachios (a good source of healthy fats); and avocados (high in potassium).
A steaming cup of comforting herbal tea also offers stress-busting benefits. “Chamomile tea helps to calm your nervous system, while rooibos tea varieties are high in antioxidants,” he says. “Lemon balm tea tends to lift your spirits and improve your concentration, while rosehip tea is an excellent source of vitamin C.”
And because stress rapidly depletes the body’s levels of B vitamins, Nelson suggests a vitamin B-complex supplement that includes vitamin C and zinc.
And finally, go easy on yourself! Channel your stress into more productive outlets because the energy you spend focusing on negativity and fear is directly proportional to your stress level. “Find peace through forgiveness; strive for a state of acceptance and understanding of others, despite their negative behavior or difficult natures,” says Nelson. “Make intelligent and balanced decisions. When you find yourself automatically being guided toward the emotion of anger, for example, wait a few seconds and ask yourself if it would better serve you to change course.”
REBOOT YOUR BODY
Give yourself a fresh start with a detox
With age comes accumulated toxins that can prevent your body’s ability to work at peak performance—and even accelerate the aging process. Detoxing (or cleansing) is like spring cleaning for your body. By eliminating the toxins from your system, your body is better able to “fire on all cylinders.” “We are ingesting, breathing, and coming into contact externally with toxins all day long,” says Tom Ziegler, MD, a pharmacist at the Medicap Pharmacy in Ashburn, VA. “We need to do a cleanse to rid the body of those toxins.” Here are a few of the ingredients you’ll find in supportive formulas:
A primary component in most detox regimens is psyllium, a fiber that helps sweep waste out of the colon where
toxic waste can accumulate.
This natural volcanic clay that is said to draw out pesticides, herbicides, pathogenic viruses, heavy metals, and other toxins through the process of adsorption.
Some detox kits and supplements are specially formulated to address the unique physiological and nutritional needs of men and women. For instance, women can benefit from a cleanse that includes chaste-tree berry, an extract that has been historically used in Central Asia to ease menstrual-related issues. For men, formulas often include Asian ginseng, a caffeine alternative that improves stamina and endurance.
Herbal and superfruit extracts offer benefits such as reduced abdominal discomfort during a cleanse and improved immune system function.
OUR PRODUCT PICKS
PINES INTERNATIONAL Wheat Grass ensures that you get a healthy dose of greens even when you can't eat all your veggies. Mix powder with juice or in a smoothie.
QUALITY OF LIFEOliginol Patented Lychee Polyphenol is a potent, high-antioxidant lychee extract formulated to provide powerful protection against free-radical damage and the effects of aging.
RISHI TEA Organic Blueberry Rooibos blends dried organic superfruits including blueberries and revitalizing schizandra berry—an ideal drink during a cleanse as well as everyday.
SONNE'S ORGANIC FOODS Sonne's No. 7 Detoxification contains bentonite to assist in the removal of chemicals, heavy metals, and environmental pollutants during a cleanse.
MEGAFOOD Un-Stress replenishes nutrients depleted by stress, including B vitamins and vitamin C. This formula is made with whole organic herbs and superfruits.