By Corina Tan
Everybody wants to look young, and achieving it may be easier than you think. The key to youthfulness may be as easy as tweaking certain aspects of your life and shifting your focus. Your goals should probably start to move towards developing a wholesome and healthy lifestyle. Here are some things that could help get you on the right track.
(See also: Is Intermittent Fasting For You?)
In a study where people were asked to guess the age of models with various facial expressions, neutral expressions yielded the most accurate results and fearful expressions made subjects look older. Smiling, happy faces were rated as being younger than they really were. So, bring out that wide smile and keep at it!
Strive for healthy relationships, less stress and conflict
Positive relationships nurture the positive energy in you. Love and appreciation from others make you happy, more relaxed and more attractive. With an abundance of love, the body releases oxytocin which is our ‘feel-good hormones’ that improve blood flow which leads to a more radiant appearance. Toxic relationships can bring you down, and studies show that stress actually ages your cells. When stress and conflict are reduced, stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are turned off and endorphins are activated instead. This natural pain killer makes everything about you more youthful.
Meditate or do yoga
Research suggests that meditation may slow aging by reducing stress, improving overall well-being and adjusting hormones. Deep breathing also helps increase outward signs of attractiveness. The techniques in meditation and yoga help you relax, open your heart, and centre yourself. The appearance of a calmer and more centred you makes you look youthful.
Seven to eight hours of beauty sleep is what the body needs to rejuvenate and repair its cells. Lack of sleep causes puffy eyes, dark circles, dry skin and makes wrinkles deeper and more visible. Also, collagen production increases during sleep so your complexion looks better and younger. Ensure you are getting sufficient rest for these important repair processes to take place.
A healthy diet
A diet rich in antioxidants help to protect skin cells against sun damage, environment and inflammation. Vitamins C and A found in strawberries, oranges, blueberries, bell peppers and spinach, helps fight against free radicals which help maintain a younger appearance. Vitamin K from kale and other green vegetables helps coagulate the blood thus reducing bruising, while Lycopene in tomatoes protect against UV rays. Fruit and vegetable consumption overall results in better skin complexion. Oily fish like salmon have a compound called DMAE (dimethylaminoethanol) that boosts muscle tone and is an important ingredient in many expensive anti-aging creams. Twice a week consumption of oily fish may result in a younger you. Also, protein is important for building and maintaining muscles. Less defined muscles or muscle loss can cause the appearance of looser, saggy skin, making you seem older than your age. For the extra health conscious, an alternative to protein from meat is plant protein.
Cut down on sugar and salt
Added sugar and excessive salt can increase inflammation which accelerates the aging process. On top of that, inflammation also produces enzymes that break down collagen in the skin, resulting in wrinkling and sagging.
Drink less alcohol
As with sugar and salt, alcohol is a substance best not to overindulge in. The negative effects on the body reach even the cellular level, where dehydration and increased inflammation speeds up aging and gives skin a dry, wrinkled appearance. It is best to drink alcohol in moderation, along with plenty of water.
Hydration is important to our skin as it keeps the skin looking plump and youthful. In addition to that, it also improves energy levels and fights against cravings which makes it easier to stay on target with your exercise and diet goals. As our skin is our body’s biggest organ and the body is made mostly out of water, we want to keep hydrated to avoid dry, dull and wrinkled skin.
Regular exercise of four or more times a week can slow the aging process, fending off muscle loss as well as aiding sleep. A good exercise regime combines cardiovascular exercises, resistance training and stretching for flexibility. Strength training should be added into your fitness regimen as it can help increase metabolism, strength, and improve balance. An increased muscle tone also provides a more youthful appearance.
Whiter teeth can give you a brighter smile and a young and fresh appearance. Yellow or discoloured teeth tend to make people look older. As such, avoid dark soda, red wine, coffee, tea, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar and red sauce if you are keen to keep your teeth looking whiter. Rinsing after eating or drinking through a straw may help, but some studies indicate that straws can also cause mouth wrinkles! In any case, keep in mind these teeth staining foods before consuming them. Regular dental check-ups and professional cleaning can keep older teeth and gums looking good. Brushing, flossing and using a mouthwash twice a day, along with twice a year cleaning is highly recommended.
Thinning, greying hair is part of the aging process, but it need not define you. Shorter hair is better if your hair is very thin. Choosing a hair colour that closely matches your skin can also conceal thinning. A root concealer or hairline spray may also be helpful, or if you want to go natural, coconut oil and cedarwood essential oil is purported to help with hair growth. Although many people try to hide their greying hair by colouring it, upkeep becomes tedious. A full head of grey actually looks more natural and fresher with an updated cut. Less heat styling and more deep conditioning helps with dryness.
Dress smart, not shapeless
Dressing in big baggy clothes to hide your size isn’t flattering. Instead, tailored clean lines look sharper. The cut of a garment that is well-fitting makes you look better and gives you an emotional boost. It also prevents you from looking frumpy and dull. A younger, more defined and fashionable you will emerge when you make an effort to dress well.
Research suggests that community service and acts of compassion help create positive, rejuvenating feelings that reflect outwardly. It also acts as a buffer against other stressful life events and contributes to a healthy balance in life. An act of kindness is a rewarding option for everyone and should be considered no matter what your station is in life.