We are constantly targeted by the media about what makes us age more quickly and what we can do to slow down the aging process. Some strategies are true, some haven’t been scientifically proven, but are we doing everything we can to prevent our body/mind from breaking down too soon? Nobody can stop the clock, but we sure can slow it down. Here are a few habits we can add to our to-do list, and adopt to make us look and feel awesome (Part 2 will follow soon after this article). Chronological age doesn’t have to dictate how old we feel.
1) Proper nutrition comes first. The effects of aging can be reduced by eating more raw vegetables, berries and nuts, food rich in antioxidants (which fight the wrinkle-causing free radicals), less processed foods (especially when loaded with trans fats, saturated fats, sugar, high-fructose-corn-syrup and salt) and fewer calories in general. Such nutrition also lowers the chances of cardiovascular disease and cancer. I know, it takes time and energy (and money) to prepare a healthy meal, but it’s probably the most important thing we can do for our long term health status. Some of the best anti-aging foods are: blueberries and oranges, bell peppers and carrots, almonds and walnuts, cod and sardines (both low in mercury), beans and egg whites, tropical guava and yellow kiwi, tomatoes and avocados, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, radishes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and broccoli, healthy greens like romaine lettuce and spinach, whole grains and oatmeal, extra-virgin olive oil and dark chocolate.
2) Bad news if we have a sweet tooth: sugar makes us age faster. Experts now believe sugar can increase wrinkles on our skin. In addition – and more importantly - sugar increases chances of cardiovascular disease, and plays a heavy role in weight gain. Sugar is a highly addictive substance that is proving itself to be much more harmful to our general health than we previously thought. The food manufacturing companies exploit this property by adding more and more sugar to their products, so that we become more and more dependent. Bottom line: we should limit our sugar consumption to a minimum.
3) Crash-dieting is never successful. It’s only a short-term solution. Research shows that it can make us feel older by reducing our energy level, messing with our concentration, and making us depressed and irritable. And depression is a major aging factor. Switching from one diet to another never works, because only a well-balanced nutrition is able to provide all the nutrients we need and, at the same time, allow us to “break the rules” once in a while without negative consequences and feelings of guilt. Diets are not sustainable long-term, and those who follow them usually regain the weight lost as soon as they discontinue them.
4) Stress can severely damage our health, and in the long run it can shorter our life. All those hormones released during stressful events raise heart rate and blood pressure in order to help us deal with the challenging situations. This basically means that we are making our heart work harder. Once we identify the stressing factor/s, there are infinite strategies that can help reduce stress levels in our life: meditation, exercise, the company of a pet, sharing problems with somebody else (without holding issues inside), trying to be more adaptable to change, or entirely removing ourselves from the stressing factor. Ultimately, it’s what works for us that matters the most.
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