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If you could turn back time, would you? Whether you're in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or beyond, there's a good chance your answer to that question is yes. That's because no matter how old you are, the desire to feel and look young is quite universal. (Not to mention we're constantly bombarded with messages and images that value youth more than age.)
While we certainly don't believe in age shaming and celebrate the process of aging gracefully, we also recognize that getting older does bring with it some added risks for age-related diseases and other concerns.
So, is it possible to reverse aging? In this guide, we'll answer that question along with reviewing what causes aging, the latest developments in anti-aging research, and some top tips for slowing down the effects of aging.
There is no single cause of aging. Rather, it's an accumulation and wide variety of factors that play a role in how the human body ages. From environmental factors like pollution to lifestyle habits like diet and exercise to genetics and medical conditions, all of these take a toll on your body.
As time goes on, it takes longer to sustain and repair molecules, cells, tissues, and organs. As such, conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, and Alzheimer's disease are more of a risk factor. Ultimately, aging comes down to human cells and the damage that accumulates over the years.
The quest for the fountain of youth is as old as humankind. While the ancient Egyptians — most notably Cleopatra herself — bathed in milk and honey to stay youthful, today's geneticists and plastic surgeons alike continue the pursuit of agelessness. And it seems that being able to reverse aging is within reach more than ever before.
In September 2019, a small study was published that demonstrated it might be possible not only to slow down but to actually reverse the body’s epigenetic clock (also called a biological clock). This clock depends on your body's epigenome, which tells your DNA what to do and measures your biological age.
Before we continue, keep in mind that a person's biological age is different from chronological age. The latter refers to how long you've actually been alive and it cannot be stopped or reversed. However, your biological age depends on a variety of factors (like those mentioned earlier). As such, you could be a 45-year old with the epigenetic clock of a 25-year-old and vice versa, depending on your lifestyle, genetics, and more.
Now, the findings of that small clinical trial get very scientific and quite complicated, so we'll spare you the more convoluted details. But in a nutshell, researchers used a combination of growth hormones and drugs to regenerate the thymus, which is an organ directly linked to the immune system.
By doing so, scientists successfully reversed the biological age of the participants by an average of 2.5 years and increased their overall life expectancy. While the study was small and had no control group, it offers promising news for what is possible and hopefully launches larger studies to take place in the near future.
OK, now that you know scientists are feverishly working to make reverse aging possible, you're probably wondering what you can do in the meantime. Well, wonder no more. Some of these tips might sound like common sense advice you've heard all your life, but there's a good reason for that — they're true! Here are the best ways you can slow down the effects of aging and stay young at any age.
Along with seriously increasing your risk of getting lung cancer or heart disease, smoking can significantly age you. Studies show that in both men and women, one of the most visible side effects of smoking is facial wrinkling. As if premature skin aging weren't enough, smoking also stains your teeth, which also signals older age.
Chances are you know that antioxidants are a must for optimal health. These compounds combat oxidative stress and help your body fight off free radicals, which damage your cells. To get an upper hand, load up on foods rich in antioxidants such as berries, artichoke, spinach, red cabbage, kale, beans, and (yay!) dark chocolate. You can also get your antioxidants topically with natural skincare products such as the Primal Life Organics Blu Berry Elixir made with goji fruit and green tea.
You may have grown up thinking that eating fat was bad for you. But as more recent scientific research shows, eating foods rich in "good fats" like omega-3 fatty acids can protect your heart and help you absorb a host of vitamins to keep you feeling forever young. Stay away from trans fats (mostly found in highly processed and packaged foods) and instead opt for healthy fats from avocados, nuts, olives, flaxseed, and protein sources such as wild-caught salmon and hormone-free chicken.
Our bodies are 60-75% water, so take a hint: Water is essential for life. Without proper hydration, your cells cannot hold their shape or function properly to keep the good stuff in and the bad stuff out. In fact, dehydrated cells develop wrinkles! What's more, water also affects your DNA and proteins. When you drink enough water, your body flushes out toxins and your skin looks healthier, glowing, and youthful.
Alcohol impacts the aging process and going overboard with booze can age you both inside and out. Not only does it dehydrate your entire body (and we know how bad that is), but it can also make you feel worse faster since your alcohol tolerance diminishes as you get older. That said, drinking wine might slow down aging thanks to the presence of resveratrol, an antioxidant-like compound. The main thing is to drink in moderation, which is about a glass a day for women, two glasses per day for men.
We know it's difficult to say goodbye to sweet treats. Instead of trying to go cold turkey, make small changes that can make a big difference over time. You'll not only reduce your risk of obesity and diabetes, but you can also prevent premature aging skin. Research shows that sugar impacts collagen and elastin, thus accelerating the aging process. Cut back on the most obvious culprits like soda, candy, and cookies, and read labels to avoid hidden sugars in everyday foods like ketchup, salad dressing, and energy bars.
Moving your body is simply a must when it comes to reversing the effects of aging. Researchers have found that exercise doesn't just make you look younger, but it can keep your DNA young and healthy. Just 20-30 minutes a day, five days a week, can make an enormous difference. Whether it's yoga, jogging, walking, dancing, at-home video workouts, or something else, find any form of exercise that you enjoy and switch things up to keep it fun.
Don't stress. Yes, it's easier said than done, but chronic stress negatively affects your body in many ways. Stress can suppress the immune system and speed up cellular aging by raising cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and triggering inflammation and tissue damage, all of which leaves you susceptible to illness and disease. Breathing exercises, staying connected to friends, reading, or spending time out in nature are just a few simple ways to keep stress (and premature aging) at bay.
Remember that tip about the importance of hydration? Well, keeping your skin moisturized from the inside out is just as important as doing so from the outside in. Skin aging and dry skin are linked, so applying a topical moisturizer on a regular basis can keep water in the skin, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and make your skin look brighter and more youthful. Opt for high-quality moisturizers with natural, nourishing ingredients and use a jade roller to really work it in.
Aside from the dangerous risks of skin cancer, too much UV exposure can give you older-looking skin, called photoaging. But instead of slathering a chemical-laden sunscreen on your skin, consider a natural sun protector that's free from preservatives and toxins. Also, don't forget that there are health benefits to spending some time in the sun (hello, vitamin D!), so let the sunshine in — in moderation, of course.
It might be difficult to stop scrolling through Instagram or break away from your latest Netflix binge at bedtime, but getting enough ZZZ's is crucial to looking and feeling young. Just as a night of poor sleep can produce puffy eyes, dark circles, and more noticeable lines and wrinkles, a good night's sleep can rejuvenate and regenerate your skin cells (and your entire body for that matter). Shut off your TV and all electronic devices before going to bed and try reading, journaling, or meditating to prepare your mind and body for rest.
Yellow-stained teeth can add years to your face. To combat the signs of an aging smile, try natural whitening toothpaste and tooth powder or whitening trays, which are gentle enough for sensitive teeth. You can also help prevent tooth stains before they happen by rinsing your mouth with water after consuming dark-colored beverages like coffee, tea, and red wine, or richly colored foods that have turmeric, soy sauce, or tomato sauce.
No matter how old you are, the bottom line is that we're all aging. As the late Mark Twain said: "Age is a case of mind over matter; if you don't mind it, it doesn't matter!”
The key is to adopt good habits and embrace healthy aging so you can enjoy a high quality of life and not fear old age. Eating well, moving your body, getting quality sleep, keeping your stress levels low, and using natural skincare and body products are just a few ways you can make a significant impact.
Slowing the aging process is a mix of staying in good health from the inside out as well as the outside in. By taking a holistic approach that recognizes how everything is interconnected, you can take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. For more ways to live a healthy and happy life that helps you feel and look your best, be sure to check out the Primal Life Organics blog.
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