Aging is a fact of life, but how quickly is happens is up to us. At least, in part. Holistic nutritionist and founder of Women’s Wellness Collective, Kristin Dahl, is sharing her guide to aging well (read: slowly!) in a three part series with us this summer, starting with these simple, yet crucial lifestyle tips.
Aging is an inevitable process that happens gradually over time. Though this often begins as an external process, as we mature we begin to notice internal changes as well. How fast we age, however, is a variable that is strongly influenced by belief, lifestyle, diet and nutritional supplements.
Accelerated aging is often the result of nutritional deficiencies, excessive stress and poor lifestyle choices. We’re exposed to free radicals (or oxidative stress) from both internal and external toxins on a daily basis, and this takes a toll on the body over the years, eventually beginning to wear away at external and internal cellular processes. Lack of circulation is also a contributing factor to premature aging, as movement has a rejuvenating effect on the entire body. Daily exercise is imperative for clearing stagnation from the body and for moving qi.
Our concept of aging and beliefs about the process also affect whether we age prematurely or not. Women who believe they are forever young tend to always look vibrant and radiant. Attitude is incredibly important, and being young at heart often translates into youthfulness in all areas of our lives, from the amount of joy and fun we experience daily, to how fulfilling our sex lives are, to the number of wrinkles on our faces. Instead of stressing about the inevitable process of getting older, focus on the benefits of age, such as increased resilience, security, good relationships and a strong sense of self.
The Anti-Aging Lifestyle
The endocrine system regulates all body systems and helps to balance hormones. Our organs and cells use hormones as messengers to communicate with the rest of the body. A balanced endocrine system supports synergy and internal harmony.
The following glands produce hormones, which work to regulate everything from our metabolism to our digestion. These systems are directed by our circadian rhythm, which is maintained by the nightly production of melatonin, making sleep an essential element for anti-aging.
+ The pineal gland (supports circadian rhythm)
+ The thyroid (regulates metabolism)
+ The pancreas (aids in digestion and blood sugar regulation)
+ The ovaries and testes (produce sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone and testosterone)
+ The adrenal glands (produce cortisol to maintain homeostasis through emotional and physiological stress)
The following lifestyle recommendations support endocrine balance and restoration and serve as preventative measures for maintaining that youthful glow.
Sleep is vital for recuperating and rebuilding and repairing the body. Every bit of our being benefits from regular, restorative sleep. Setting a routine that includes seven to nine hours of sleep nightly and getting to bed before midnight are critical steps for restoring harmony.
Downtime/meditation is incredibly revitalizing and restorative. Be still or take a walk in nature, listen to soft music and unplug for at least a short time every day. Disconnecting is absolutely essential for our happiness and well-being. Take time away from technology as often as possible. Capture every moment with your heart and mind and allow yourself to sink into the moments. This unplugged time may be one of the best ways to reset our nervous systems and to support endocrine harmony.
Drink water! Every cell, tissue, and organ in the body needs water to work efficiently. Without enough water, poor health is quickly on the horizon. There are a number of functions that water performs for the body: regulating body temperature, transporting nutrients and electrical signals to cells, lubricating the joints and flushing out toxins and waste. A mere five percent drop in the body’s water levels can cause a 30% loss of energy. Aim for half your bodyweight in ounces of water daily (so a 140-pound woman should consume 70 ounces of water every day), and drink filtered or spring water that is free of chlorine, fluoride and aluminum, as these are neurotoxins that have detrimental effects on the brain and overall health.
Regular exercise is an integral part of preventing premature aging, as it stimulates lymphatic drainage, tones the muscles, eases stress, stimulates internal organs, relieves depression, promotes sleep, reduces cholesterol and facilitates clear thinking. It also releases endorphins, which will naturally lift your mood. Moderate exercise three to four times a week, to start, is ideal. Regular movement is the single most important thing you can do to support your longevity.
Lymphatic drainage massage is a great way to support the lymphatic system, on top of regular exercise. The lymphatic system is spread throughout the whole body and is responsible for filtering and removing toxins using a network of fluid-filled nodes, glands and organs. When this system is not functioning at its optimal potential, toxins can get trapped and deposited throughout the body. Lymphatic drainage massage is a gentle massage along the lymphatic system pathways that helps to release any blockages and get the system flowing. Because of the sensitivity of this system, it’s recommended to go to a professional for this sort of treatment.
Exercise the brain to keep the neurons firing and to strengthen brain function. Do activities that are mentally challenging, such as puzzles, crosswords and learning new things. You can also keep your mind active through reading, writing and engaging in interesting discussions and debates. Other ways to support brain health and to strengthen neural pathways are to adopt brain plasticity exercises, such as switching from the dominant hand you use for everyday activities (so for example, using your non-dominant hand to brush your teeth, dial the phone or write a grocery list), performing multiple sensory activities (essentially doing two things at once that engage the senses, such as watching a sunset while doing a craft with your hands, or listening to music and smelling flowers simultaneously) and changing up regular routines (for example, taking a new route on a daily commute or jog, or using new machines at the gym). New experiences and difficult mental activities challenge your brain to adapt, which keeps it strong – it essentially exercises your brain!
Managing stress levels is crucial for slowing the aging process. Stress causes a consistent rise in cortisol from the adrenals, and when cortisol levels are chronically high, they can rob the body of nutrients that are essential for healthy glowing skin. Chronic stress alters neurotransmitter production (affecting your emotions) and depletes the nutrients needed to balance hormones. Stress also increases silent inflammation and can contribute to intestinal permeability – enhancing the aging affect. To keep stress levels low, allow yourself to have alone time every day to meditate, exercise or relax doing something you enjoy.
Reduce blue light exposure. High-energy visible (HEG) light, also known as blue light, is emitted by our computers, cell phones and other technological devices. This type of light generates free radicals, causing collagen and elastin in our bodies to weaken and die, which increases the signs of aging. Using screens at night before bed also disrupts our circadian rhythms, which has a negative impact on sleep. Cellular repair is most significant at night, and we need quality sleep to support the skin’s regeneration processes. Avoid excessive screen time and make sure to switch off all screens at least an hour before going to bed.
Social connection is key to healthy aging. Strong relationships offer the experience of feeling supported, which assists in an overall sense of being loved, esteemed and cared for. Plan daily and weekly activities with friends and family members, take classes and make efforts to talk to new people.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.