Ageing: That thing most of us try to avoid! The cool truth is we actually have a lot of influence over ageing. Read on for ways to keep it at a distance for as long as possible.
What is ageing?
Ageing is the result of intrinsic changes caused by genetics and factors such as telomere shortening and by extrinsic changes such as lifestyle/pollution/sun damage etc.
I’m sure I don’t need to remind anyone of the signs of ageing skin: wrinkling, sagginess, and pigmentation.
Lets take a look at different factors contributing to ageing skin:
We are getting all science-y here…bear with me for a minute! Biochemical factors are things that are created in the body and cause signs of ageing. There are three main types associated with ageing:
- Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) or free radicals
- Matrix Metalloproteinases (MMPs)
- Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGEs)
- ROS: Sun exposure, pollution, sugar
- MMPs: Sun exposure, inflammation
- AGEs: Sugar, alcohol, method of cooking
A Note about Telomeres
Telomeres are like little caps that protect the end of strands of DNA. (Think the end of shoelaces).
Damaged/shortened telomeres and + resultant damaged DNA = ageing
We want long telomeres for as looooong as possible!
Top Telomere Enemies and Friends
Enemy #1: STRESS.
Friend #1: Meditation.
I hear you groaning and moaning, but it doesn’t have to be extended hours a day of sitting still like a Buddhist Monk. A short and sweet 5 minutes once per day is a perfect starting place for you to begin to reap the benefits.
Friend #2: Exercise.
Doing regular exercise that you enjoy and that makes you feel good helps to flush out stress hormones that cause cellular damage. (And it boosts feel-good hormones). Our body is not designed to Sit. All. Day. It really isn’t. so find something, anything, that makes you sweat and breathe fresh air into your lungs.
Friend #3: Good thoughts.
Pessimists have shorter ones! Think nice thoughts. Every time you feel a negative thought creep in, try looking for the positive in it. Start with the simple, little things: I used to get annoyed at having to stand on the train for 15 stops because there were no seats, but now I turn it into a positive and realise that I am burning more energy than if I were sitting on my butt. Start with the little things and build up to the seemingly more daunting thoughts.
Enemy #2: LIFESTYLE BADDIES
Smoking, obesity, environmental pollution.
Smoke? Find someone to help you quit.
Obese? Reduce weight to a healthy range (I can help you with that *wink wink*) Note: excessive and strict dieting has the same effect as being obese and shortens telomeres.
Pollution? Move to a tranquil forest overlooking a beach. (Ok, that was me sharing my dream with you). Pollution can be a tougher one to avoid but you can do a lot to ensure your home environment is healthy: houseplants clean the air, use natural floor-coverings/bedding/non-toxic paint and varnishes, choose safe cleaning products.
Friend #4: Nutrition
Antioxidants: See below for where you can find these good guys.
Fear not! There are lots of natural things we can do to slow down ageing. Think long-term: nothing will change overnight or in a week and there are no magic bullets (yet!) when it comes to anti-ageing, so stick at it.
Protect, protect, protect! (See my earlier post on sunscreens) Photo ageing, or sun damage, is caused by free radicals that subsequently cause the wrinkling and sagginess, and causes a large percentage of the signs of skin ageing.
Public Enemy #1: Sugar.
Sugar reacts with the protein in our skin (collagen) and creates Advanced Glycation End-products (AGEs…how appropriate!) and free radicals (Reactive Oxygen Species). The important thing to remember is these mean losses of elasticity, firmness and other signs of ageing. AGE’s turn into R-AGEs and trigger inflammation, another age accelerator.
All we need to remember is that Sugar = Sag
The higher our blood sugar levels, the higher the level of glycation = faster ageing.
Cooking method contributes to increased levels of AGEs in food: grilling, frying roasting. Choose methods such as steaming to reduce levels. Avoid foods such as donuts, fries, BBQ meats.
Aim for a healthy weight, as increased weight is associated with increased formation of AGEs.
Muscles use sugar for energy so the more muscle the less sugar left floating around to cause AGE formation. Muscle mass lessens with age, so lifting weights regularly can keep you younger longer. Exercise also helps prevent shortening of telomeres.
Foods that may inhibit AGE formation:
Cinnamon, cloves, oregano, allspice, ginger, garlic.
Antioxidants and Anti-Inflammatories
Plant-based sources of antioxidants have been shown to reduce the activity of a particular cell-regulating complex (mTORC1), which helps slow signs of ageing. It is strongly responsive to nutrients, so eat your antioxidants! Telomeres (the protective caps around our DNA strands) are also protected from damage by free radicals and their shortening is lessened, keeping us younger longer.
The most potent antioxidant and can be found in the skin of grapes (and red wine). Don’t get too excited and think drinking copious amounts of red wine will keep you young looking: alcohol raises levels of AGEs. Plus you would have to drink 41 glasses of red wine to obtain 20mg of resveratrol (the minimal amount shown to be beneficial).
Other sources: blueberries, bilberries, cranberries, raspberries, and cocoa.
Numerous studies in recent years have shown it to be an important consideration in regard to anti-ageing, with having properties that help prevent collagen breakdown. It also has an effect on an enzyme called sirtuin that is involved in the ageing process.
Green and white tea:
Polyphenols from green tea protect against damage from the sun and are strongly anti-inflammatory. Recent studies show that white tea was more effective than green tea at inhibiting two MMPs that break down elastin and collagen. Note: Take tea away from supplements as it inhibits their absorption.
Found in the bright yellow spice turmeric, is another strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and can be added to your food and drinks or taken as a supplement.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids:
Strong anti-inflammatory action that helps reduce signs of skin ageing by improving atrophy and dryness. May help inhibit MMPs triggered by inflammation. Omega 3 protects telomeres.
Rich Sources: Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herrings.
Found in Milk Thistle and is thought to work by being a strong antioxidant, which helps protect telomeres from damage by free radicals. It is also a great liver herb and increases glutathione production that boosts antioxidant and detoxifying activities.
Plant-Based Collagen Boosters
The Super Collagen Booster. This nutrient rises above the rest when it comes to building collagen, and without sufficient quantities collagen production is impaired.
Rich Sources: Rosehip (drink as a tea), citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, mango, red peppers, dark leafy greens, onion, berries.
Vitamin C helps change lysine and proline into the forms needed to make collagen.
helps Vitamin C do its job, and acts as an antioxidant, which means it fights the bad guys off that can cause ageing. It also protects against cross-linking of collagen (damaged collagen).
Rich sources: Avocado, raw and unsalted nuts and seeds, wheat germ oil.
boosts production and helps knit collagen and elastin together.
Rich Sources: Lentils, mushrooms, nuts and seeds.
leeks, onion, cucumber, strawberries, lentils (?) green beans. A herb called Horsetail is loaded with silica.
pineapple, seaweed, pecan, whole grains, leafy greens
onions, garlic, fish, cabbage
Tria: this is an FDA approved hand-held laser device that is used at home and has been proven to increase collagen production if used 5 times a week for 12 weeks. Ongoing treatment required for effects to remain. It hurts. It is expensive. I have one and definitely notice a difference in skin texture after about a week of use. I haven’t been able to continue for the recommended 12 weeks as of yet because it does take some getting used to.
Supplements can be a good option if your diet is not optimal. I also recommend taking resveratrol as a supplement rather than drinking copious amounts of red wine.
Always check with your Physician before taking supplements especially if pregnant, nursing, or on medication.
Reputable Supplement Brands
Antioxidants and resveratrol from wholefood sources:
Garden of Life
Plant-Based Collagen Boosters:
The Beauty Chef:
Rainbow Light Super C:
- https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201404/emotional-distress-can-speed-cellular-agingcur for better or worse within just a few hours.