By Heidi Baldwin, MS, Holistic Health Coach
With age comes wisdom, experience, and memories. Every trip around the sun is to be enjoyed and treated as the gift it is, and I don't know one person that doesn't want to prolong their life and quality of life for as long as possible! People are surprised when they learn I turned 50 this past June. I am told repeatedly that I look like I am in my early 40’s, and asked if I had work done, and if not, what’s my secret? Well, my personal secret is treating my body like it’s a temple, remembering that everything I consume is either harming or healing my body.
While we can't stay young forever, we can incorporate a few lifestyle changes that help minimize the signs of aging. Here are a few tips to keep you feeling your best, no matter your age:
Cut Down on, or Eliminate Sugar
There are so many reasons we should limit our sugar consumption, but you can also add aging to the list. Sugar attaches to proteins in the bloodstream and damages them through a process known as glycation. Two of the proteins affected are collagen and elastin, which are responsible for keeping your skin plump, glowing, and looking youthful. Aside from the havoc it can wreak on your systems, it's best to keep the sugar intake low for a myriad of reasons. Using a natural sweetener sparingly such as honey, maple sugar, or monk fruit is always a better option as well.
Eat Anti-inflammatory Foods
Inflammation isn't just something we get when we're hurt or sick; many of us have chronic, low-grade inflammation that can cause damage to the body over time. Foods such as leafy green veggies, fatty fish (think salmon and mackerel), and nuts contain anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce the signs of aging. Some herbs, such as thyme and basil, also are anti-inflammatory. Avoid inflammatory foods, such as sugar and processed foods. Chronic low-grade inflammation is a risk factor for many lifestyle-related conditions, which I'm certain you are trying to avoid.
Load Up on Antioxidants
Our cells undergo damage from the environment. Compounds known as free radicals accumulate in our bodies and cause oxidative stress, damaging DNA and cells. Over time, this damage leads to signs of aging. Antioxidants in fruits, veggies, and other whole foods neutralize these free radicals and prevent DNA and cell damage. Try having some mixed berries as snacks or in your breakfast. Dark, leafy greens, Russet potatoes, red bell peppers, and apples also contain many antioxidants, but you won't go wrong with any fruits and veggies.
Eat Enough Protein
As we age, we tend to lose muscle mass. Muscles need protein to grow and remain strong, which is why including enough protein in all of your meals is essential for longevity. Try to include a healthy source of protein into all your meals, whether it be lean meats, fish, or plant-based options such as quinoa or beans and legumes. Nourishing your muscles is especially important as you age because it helps you stay active and functional, allowing you to go out, have fun, and explore.
Take Care of Your Digestion
A healthy digestive system is critical for our overall health and wellbeing, but it also helps slow down aging. What you put into your body has to come out, and if the digestive system isn't doing an excellent job at removing waste, accumulated toxins are going to have a difficult time leaving your body. This can lead to a dull, congested complexion, skin issues, and even wrinkles. Drink enough water, eat a diet full of whole foods, and take probiotics to ensure your body eliminates waste and toxins regularly.
Remember, you are worth taking care of, and the body you’re in right now is the only vessel you have in this lifetime – you can’t trade it in for a new model. Treat your body with the same care and concern most people have for their automobile, and you’ll be off to a good start! You wouldn’t pour soda into your gas tank and expect your car to take you places, would you?