By Carla Oates
When we think about ageing—we often only consider the physical and biological processes that take place as we age—as well as what we see reflected back at us in the mirror.
However, in order to age well, we need to think holistically—taking into account our emotional, physical, spiritual and lifestyle practices—understanding how they impact and influence our health, beauty and wellbeing.
Below, we’ve curated a few simple tips on how you can age well—and take charge of your glow (inside and out!)—no matter your age…
Be Sun Smart
As our largest organ, our skin needs to be nurtured and nourished at every stage of life. And it will always be the first to tell us if we’ve been neglecting it! While there are a multitude of ways to ensure our skin stays healthy, radiant and hydrated as we age—the best thing we can do for our skin now (and in the future!) is to be sun smart by wearing SPF daily (even during winter) and covering up when we’re in the sun. Exposure to UV radiation is considered to be one of the leading contributors for skin ageing—and can actually accelerate this process, not to mention contribute to harmful skin cancers. In fact, studies show that around 80% of facial ageing is linked to sun exposure with photo-damage causing loss of skin elasticity, dryness, pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles.
There’s nothing better than a good night’s sleep—and it’s no secret that it’s integral to our overall physical and mental wellbeing, as well as our skin’s health. But lack of sleep can not only put us at risk of chronic health issues (like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and even depression) and increase inflammation in the body, it can actually age us faster, too. Evidence shows that poor sleepers have increased signs of skin ageing, as well as a slower recovery from environmental stressors—and a University of California study has also illustrated that sleep deprivation activates genes linked to biological ageing in older adults, showing how disrupted sleep can actually interrupt cellular processes. Getting enough sleep also plays a role in our gut health which is why it’s essential to prioritise sleep at every opportunity and practise good sleep hygiene.
Eat More Fibre
We know that our microbes love fibre—in fact, it’s one of the most simple and profound ways we can positively affect our gut health! But eating enough fibre can also help us age ‘better’, too with one study illustrating that participants with the highest intake of fibre had almost an 80 percent likelihood of iving a long and healthy life over a 10 year follow up. Eating enough fibre also helps to combat inflammation—and inflammageing—as when it ferments in the large intestine, it products anti-inflammatory byproducts known as short-chain fatty acids which strenghthen the intestinal barrier and support our immune and metabolic health.
For years we have been told of the importance of exercise with research showing how sedentary lifestyles are more closely linked to chronic illness. However, physical exercise needn’t be rigorous to extend our life span! The key is finding a form of movement that you enjoy and remaining consistent with it as you age. From walking to Pilates, yoga, HIIT training, cycling, stretching, weight training… the choices are endless.
The art of mindfulness is literally about practising staying present in the moment—rather than reflecting on the past or worrying about what might happen in the future. And it’s not as woo-woo as it once was either—with studies showing how mindfulness can help improve focus, sleep, reduce chronic pain and improve overall wellbeing.
Stress can impact our health and wellbeing in a multitude of ways, but it can also make us age faster according to research. While physiologically, stress can impact our physical health by raising our blood pressure and suppressing anabolic processes, it can also lead to inflammation—which as we know, is at the core of many chronic health issues, impairing our immune system and also instigating skin inflammation, breaking down collagen and contributing to skin issues like acne, psoriasis and eczema. Reducing stress is therefore essential if we want to age well and a few proven methods include meditation, mindfulness and breathing exercises, getting adequate sleep, journaling, exercising and finding purpose.
When you wake up in the morning, instead of leap-frogging immediately to your to-do list—or picking up your phone—consider what brings you joy. With out busy schedules and countless responsibilities, it can be all too easy to pop our own pleasure and joy on the backburner, but truth be told, finding joy and purpose in our own lives helps to keep us engaged—and can help us live longer, too. In fact, research shows that those who embrace hobbies and their own leisure, not only have a decreased risk of dementia and depression, but a longer life span.
Drink. More. Water.
Need we say more? Not only do we need to drink plenty of H2O if we wish our skin to glow—but drinking enough water also ensures we can maintain balanced energy levels, it improves our cognitive focus and function and keeps our cells healthy and hydrated.
Stay Up To Date With Health Checks
If you’re guilty of only going to the doctor when you find yourself unwell, then it’s time to start booking in regular health checkups! This is especially important as we age given long-term chronic health issues can percolate over many years—so undergoing appropriate expoloratory tests and determining your individual risk factors for disease can improve your quality of life and ultimately, your life span.
Meaningful relationships are vital–but not only do they bring us joy and happiness, but social connections are proven to slow cognitive decline and keep us feeling mentally fit. While our social circles can tend to shrink as we get older and life takes us in new and different directions from our friends, prioritising these relationships is key if we wish to avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness. Studies show that older adults who feel lonely or socially isolated are at greater risk of health issues like heart disease and depression, so staying connected is vital in order to improve mood, mental wellbeing and ensure we age well!