Growing old is a fact of life. Not one of us can defy the calendar and every day we are a day older. But the number of days we have lived is not the only thing that determines our age, and especially the appearance of our age. The years do things to our bodies—cells find it harder to regenerate, muscles lose their power, bones get more fragile, skin wrinkles. We cannot stop these things happening, but there is plenty we can do to slow them down.
All in the Mind?
Getting older is a physical process, but our mental attitude is an important thing when it comes to fighting the symptoms. People who have a positive outlook on life, who expect to enjoy each day and who believe that they can achieve something, look better (and younger) than those who have given up on life. A sparkle in the eye counts for a lot.
Far too many people cannot help focusing on the things they hate about their bodies. A far better start is to notice the things that are good about yourself and build on those. That is the approach used by dermatological consultants AVA MD, who ‘work with each patient to determine the focal point of their individual beauty and take steps to enhance that feature.’
Cut Out the Poison
We can easily subject ourselves to a relentless onslaught from substances that are not good for our cells. The biggest risk is from smoking, which has been recently shown to cause DNA mutations not only in the lungs but throughout the body.
Alcohol is another risk factor. While there is still some evidence that a moderate consumption of red wine may be beneficial, there is no doubt that regular consumption of more than one drink a day for women, or two for men, is harmful, as well as causing dehydrated skin and broken veins.
Essential for production of vitamin D, but dangerous for the skin when excessive, is sunlight. Ultraviolet rays eventually damage the skin cells and make it harder for them to replicate.
Add Some Nutrients
A good diet will help to fight the effects of aging. A healthy diet—plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds and nuts, lean proteins, low in saturated fats, high in unsaturated fats and omega-3—will provide you with the vitamins and minerals you need for healthy skin, muscles, and bones. Don’t forget to keep your body hydrated—after about 60 we tend to need more water than our thirst reflex tells us.
You can also apply nutrients to the outside. Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A which causes the skin to regenerate, leaving a healthy glow. Other substances which are widely believed to help are creams containing alpha-lipoic acid, or madecassol (a plant-derived treatment for scars and wrinkles). A vitamin C serum applied before moisturizing can also help to stimulate cell growth.
Probably the best thing you can do to keep yourself looking young is to exercise. Exercise keeps the lungs, heart, and circulatory system efficient, making sure that nutrients reach every part of our bodies. It is essential for a good mental outlook, and that has knock-on effects on our physical well-being. It makes us move more easily and stand more confidently, which will make us look younger.
The unwelcome fact is that nature has no interest in maintaining our bodies beyond their biologically useful years and abandons them to gravity. But keeping muscles exercised can delay or even reverse that process, keeping figures toned and in shape.
Beat the Stress
People who are constantly living with stress often find that they bear the marks of time. Stress makes us feel tired, and that shows in our faces and demeanor. It causes high blood pressure and a tendency to inflammation.
A regular regime of relaxation and stress-busting will help. You can take up yoga or join a meditation class. Set aside a time every day when you will center down and focus on your breathing and inner stillness.
Exercise and relaxation will also help you to sleep better, and sleep is a key factor in the regeneration of body and mind.
Live Long, Live Well
Our current obsession with appearing younger than we are may seem self-indulgent when compared to the problems which much of the world’s population has to deal with. However, if it drives us to look after ourselves in a proactive way, it will perhaps enable us to stay healthy and enjoy longer life.
Georgina Ball is a mature woman who tries to keep age at bay when looking after her appearance. She writes articles about health, beauty and fitness aimed at women her own age as well as younger.