It's rare to find someone who likes the idea of aging. Perhaps it's just the idea of change when you start to look and feel differently. Maybe you have to work a little harder to take care of yourself than you felt like you did when you were younger? But you don't have to dread getting older when there are some simple lifestyle changes you can make daily that can help to prevent aging — or at least support some of the less desirable effects of growing older at a less rapid rate.
You may be busy, need to work late or have other responsibilities at night. But sleep should still take priority as often as possible. Lack of sleep increases your risk of a range of health problems, including impacts to heart health, weight management and blood glucose levels. Getting enough sleep helps your body produce the hormones that help you build or maintain muscle mass, a task that can become more difficult with age. Sleep is also the time when your body repairs cells and boosts your immune system.
Stress puts you at risk of negative health effects to your nervous system, digestion, sleep habits and immunity. Persistent high levels of cortisol, the body's stress hormone, can lead to cognitive impairment as you age and is a known risk factor for conditions linked to impaired brain health. Doing your best to avoid stressful situations, manage how you respond to daily stressors and engage in activities that support healthy levels of stress like daily mindfulness, yoga and meditation, can help lower stress and protect your brain.
Harmful sun exposure is one of the fastest ways to increase skin aging and look older. Sun damage can cause wrinkles, age spots and a dull skin tone. Opt for a natural sunscreen with zinc oxide when spending time out in direct sunlight. Drinking plenty of water daily will keep your skin hydrated, and a collagen supplement may also help you restore youthfulness to your skin by supporting skin structure and elasticity that can decline naturally as collagen decreases with age.
Smoking and drinking too much alcohol are both high-risk factors for the development of serious health conditions, and they can also make you look older. The chemicals in cigarettes can cause cellular damage that harms your skin's elasticity and cellular integrity. This can lead to premature wrinkles, skin color changes and other visual signs of aging. In addition to effects on your brain and liver, drinking too much alcohol can speed up the aging process, increasing wrinkles and blood vessel visibility. Quit smoking and drink in moderation to reduce unnecessary damage.
You may notice some weight gain as you get older with hormonal changes or reduced activity levels — however, it is just as important to maintain a healthy weight as we age. Excessive weight gain also speeds up aging by creating cellular and molecular changes that resemble normal aging. Intermittent fasting or healthy caloric restriction may help slow the aging process and overturn some of the negative effects of aging.
Following a structured nutrition plan can be a great way to eat more nutrient-dense foods and guide healthier decision-making at the grocery store. Take the Mediterranean diet, for example, this plan recommends eating 7 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, fish a few times a week, lean meats or plant-based proteins and healthy fats like avocado and extra virgin olive oil.
Aim for 30 minutes of exercise daily. Mix it up with flexibility, aerobic exercise and strength training. Exercise increases oxygen flow to cells, creating more aerobic capacity. Frequent physical activity not only keeps you strong — it also helps you maintain a healthy weight and promote a healthy body and mind as you age.
You can consider a high-quality nutritional supplement to complement your daily nutrient dense diet and ensure you are getting the best dose of all the nutrients your body needs to function optimally -- clinically proven to decrease unhealthy levels of inflammation and increase mitochondria and energy - the two major factors that support anti-aging
To help your physical age reflect how you feel in your mind, focus on these steps to wellness. While you can't stop the aging process, making a few diet and lifestyle changes can help prevent aging from speeding up.