You may already be taking several steps to delay the look of aging. If you’re using sunscreen, applying anti-aging serums, and purchasing products with safe and natural ingredients, you’ve probably already noticed some positive changes in your skin.
There are some things that you may be missing, though. One thing we tend to forget is that the skin is the body’s largest organ, and like the brain, gut, and heart, it responds to how we live our lives as well as it does to whatever creams or serums we may put on it.
In fact, recent research suggests that when we adapt some healthy lifestyle habits, we not only enjoy improved well being, we may actually look younger, too.
1. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation has been linked with an increased risk of a number of health problems, including heart disease and cancer, and now we know that it also makes you look older. (See our previous post, “Why Your Poor Night’s Sleep Could Make You Look Older.”)
Shoot for 7-8 hours per night. If you’re having trouble, make sure you’re getting up and going to bed at the same time every day, even on the weekends, and keep all technological gadgets (TVs, computers, phones) out of the bedroom. The blue light on these devices messes with melatonin, the sleep hormone, and will result in less restorative sleep.
Stress is common in all of our lives, but if you’re been under chronic stress for a couple months or more, it is probably showing up on your face. This type of stress is associated with increased risk of disease, and is also connected with accelerated aging.
In a 2014 study, for example, researchers connected psychological stress with skin inflammation and skin aging, and many other studies have done the same. The American Academy of Dermatology also notes that stress plays a role in inflammatory skin conditions, and suggests that reducing stress could help treat acne, psoriasis, and rosacea.
3. Keep Working Out
Exercise might actually be able to reverse aging and skin damage, according to a recent study. Researchers took skin samples from a group of sedentary adults aged 65 or older, and found that the skin looked normal for their age.
They then had the participants jog or cycle for 30 minutes twice a week for three months. At the end of the study period, they took more skin samples and found that the inner and outer layers of the skin looked more like those of healthy 20-to-40-year olds.
4. Cut Back on High-Glycemic Foods
Simple carbohydrate foods break down quickly in your body, spiking blood sugar levels and stimulating the body to release more insulin. High levels of sugar and insulin can create cross-links in the collagen in your skin, accelerating the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Limit your intake of sugary treats and drinks, starchy carbs like pasta and potatoes, bagels, low-fiber foods, French fries, and white rice, and choose instead whole grains, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, beans, and most fruits and vegetables.
This mindfulness practice can help calm your mind, and may also help you to look and feel younger. It helps to ease stress, which we know contributes to aging, and it also seems to help protect against inflammation, which is a major factor in aging.
In a 2016 study, for example, researchers found that experienced meditators had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their systems, and also had less inflammation than those who didn’t meditate. An earlier study showed that a one-month meditation retreat resulted in increased telomere length in participants. Telomeres are the caps at the end of DNA that protect the chromosomes, and tend to get shorter with age, so longer telomeres means a younger system.
Do you have lifestyle habits that keep you young?
AAD. (n.d.). Reducing stress may help lead to clearer skin | American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/media/news-releases/reducing-stress-may-help-lead-to-clearer-skin
Chen, Y., & Lyga, J. (2014). Brain-Skin Connection: Stress, Inflammation and Skin Aging. Inflammation & Allergy-Drug Targets, 13(3), 177-190. doi:10.2174/1871528113666140522104422
Kingsland, J. (2017, May 9). Could meditation really help slow the ageing process? Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2016/mar/03/could-meditation-really-help-slow-the-ageing-process
Reynolds, G. (2014, April 16). Younger Skin Through Exercise. Retrieved from https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/04/16/younger-skin-through-exercise/?_php=true&_type=blogs&ref=health&_r=0
Rosenkranz, M. A., Lutz, A., Perlman, D. M., Bachhuber, D. R., Schuyler, B. S., MacCoon, D. G., & Davidson, R. J. (2016). Reduced stress and inflammatory responsiveness in experienced meditators compared to a matched healthy control group. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 68, 117-125. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2016.02.013