Is there anyone out there who likes to look old? I doubt it. I don’t think there’s anyone who would say no to slowing down the ageing process because, no one likes to look old. In our pre-teen/teen years, we might have wanted to appear older and more mature to the opposite sex, but, that desire passes as quickly as the teenage years.
The anti-ageing product market is a billion dollar industry. Products and gadgets with marketing buzz words like “anti-ageing”, “anti-winkle” “age defying” are best sellers. The world is constantly on the lookout for the next miracle gadget, cream or procedure that purport to hold back the years or shall I say “ravages of time”?
Whenever I think of ageing or growing older, a few positive things come to mind, like living a more carefree life, doing more of the things I enjoy, moving around more freely because my children are all grown up.
Another thing that comes to my mind is, being in good nick. I want to look and feel good no matter how old I am. I like that, I like that very much. My plan is to be a fit and trendy 80yr old by God’s grace.
How can I enjoy the aforementioned things if I’m hindered by the health and mobility challenges than can arise from ageing? Are these challenges avoidable?
The truth is, we wouldn’t need to spend so much money trying to look decently aged if we started taking care of our bodies earlier.
If you want to age well, you have to PLAN it.
Ageing well is within your control. However, you have to be intentional about it, plan and actively work at ageing well. There’s no luck involved.
The effects of ageing can be depressing and debilitating. It’s one of the causes of midlife crisis. It’s almost as if one minute we’re young and the next old with aching limbs and creaky joints. There’s this sense of “how the heck did the years roll by so quick?”.
Despite major scientific advancements and the proliferation of health related information, lifestyle related diseases that age the body like diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome and obesity are on an all time high.
We will all age, that’s without a doubt.
Not everyone will age well, that’s also without doubt.
How well you age is within your control.
If you don’t harness that power, you won’t age well.
And, when one doesn’t age well, old age might feel more like a curse than a blessing.
What is Ageing?
Ageing is a general biological phenomenon that affects all human beings and results in the functional decline of physiological systems accompanied by an increased risk of chronic ailments with advancing chronological age.
What exactly do I mean by “ageing well” ?
My definition of ageing well is, ageing without chronic ailments eg lifestyle ailments that can degenerate, ageing with good mobility, posture and unimpaired cognition. For the benefit of this blog, I’m going to divide ageing into two categories, Skin ageing and Body ageing.
Your skin is your body’s largest organ. Your skin protects your body from external environmental damage. Premature skin ageing is when your skin looks older than your chronological age. Signs include sagging, dryness, hyperpigmentation, collagen loss (excessive wrinkling), age spots, loss of skin tone and loss of elasticity.
Genetic factors that determine how your skin ages.
Studies reveal that 60% of skin ageing variations between humans is attributed to genetics. Whilst some people inherit youthful looking skin and often look much younger than they actually are, others might inherit genetic conditions that cause their skin to age prematurely or rapidly.
Ethnicity and skin colour
Darker pigmented skin retain youthful skin properties longer than Caucasian skin. Asians, Africans, black Americans tend to experience wrinkling later and with less severity than Caucasians. The most distinct difference between ethnic groups is skin colour. Those with darker pigmentation retain younger skin properties.
According to research, male skin has a tougher texture and is about 25% thicker than female skin. In addition, male skin has higher collagen content than female skin. Collagen is a protein found in the body’s tissues (skin, bones, cartilage, tendons, ligaments). It’s function is to help make these tissues strong and resilient.
Since male skin has higher collagen density than female skin, it naturally should age slower than female skin. Men who take care of their skin can look 15yrs younger than females of the same age. However, male skin is more sensitive to UV light exposure and if men aren’t diligent with using sunscreen, the damage done by UV rays can negate this 15yr difference.
Non Genetic Factors That Age Skin
40% of skin ageing is caused by non-genetic modifiable factors. This is the bit you have control over.
A high fat, high sugar, processed food diet can damage your skin’s collagen. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is found in your skin, muscles, tendons and bones and plays a crucial role in holding the cells in your body together. Collagen keeps your skin springy and resistant to wrinkles. According to research, as you age, your body’s collagen level reduces by the rate of 2% yearly.
The rate of collagen depletion accelerates when a women hits menopause. Menopause causes lose of oestrogen. When oestrogen levels drop, so does collagen levels. This is because oestrogen supports collagen production. Research shows that women lose up to 30% at menopause and a rate of 2% yearly thereafter.
Excessive drinking, smoking, drugs, insufficient sleep, obesity, dehydration can cause oxidative stress. Long term uncontrolled oxidative stress damages the body’s cells, proteins, and DNA. This can accelerate the ageing process and cause health conditions to develop.
Exposure to pollution and pesticides can cause oxidative stress. Air pollution, pesticides and constant exposure to ultraviolet rays damage and age your skin.
How to make sure your body doesn’t age faster than it’s chronological age.
Creaking joints? Worn out knees? Slow metabolism? Are you taking a lot of medication or frequently battling ailments? Do these questions ring a bell or many bells? Even though many of the aforementioned conditions are connected to ageing, the fact is, you can minimise how much these afflict you. Your chronological age is the number of years you’ve lived and your biological age is how old your body is. Some people live in bodies older than their actual age.
Your biological age shows how fast your body is physically ageing.
What is your biological age? Is it older that your actual age or younger? If it reads older, then that’s not a good sign because your biological age is an indication of how well you’re looking after your body. It should read the same as your actual age. If it’s younger, you’re doing a great job.
Age proof your body
Keep fit and make strength training an essential part of your routine. Being physically fit can help age proof your body. Exercise protects your body from degenerating to the extent that your quality of life is greatly diminished.
Make daily exercise a habit because, aside from keeping the body nimble, being fit also helps alleviate or prevents ailments that age the body like cardio-vascular disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, and depression.
Include resistance and flexibility exercises when exercising. Strength exercises will help you maintain your strength, shape and stability. Strength training also protects your joints and helps you maintain an upright posture. Maintaining a healthy weight directly impacts your mobility because excess weight puts pressure on your joints and hinders your movement.
Age proof your diet
Maintaining a moderate and balanced diet will help you maintain a healthy weight. In the previous paragraph, I talked about how your diet can be ageing. This is because, diet is the main way your body obtains the required nutrients for growth and maintenance. The food you eat is broken down and eventually absorbed into your blood stream from where it’s distributed to different parts of the body for cellular renewal, repair and growth. If your diet is made up of highly processed sugary foods lacking in nutrients, this will inhibit cellular renewal and repair.
The functional anti-aging ingredients in food mainly alleviate skin ageing in three ways. Firstly, anti-aging ingredients like protein peptides and essential fatty acids are involved in the synthesis and metabolism of skin components. Secondly, anti ageing ingredients in food alleviate oxidative damage done to the skin, and thirdly, anti ageing components in food help inhibit the degradation of the components that make up the skin.
Antioxidants neutralise free radicals
and reduce their capacity to damage. Antioxidants protect your skin and body from oxidative stress. Free radicals are unstable and highly reactive atoms that damage cells and harm the body. Micronutrients that contain Vitamins E, C and D are light antioxidants and help protect the body from free radicals. Fruits and vegetables are a great source of phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamins. Eating a healthy balanced diet including lots of fruit and vegetables will cause your skin to glow, delay or inhibit cellular damage.
Include collagen rich foods like organic fish, chicken, lean grass fed meats and eggs. These foods can help boost collagen production in the body. Be careful not to eat too much red meat because of it’s high saturated fat content.
Including healthy oils like olive oil can reduce skin ageing. Omega 3&6 fatty acids play an important human skin barrier role. Fats from nuts and seeds have anti inflammatory benefits. According to studies, one of the many benefits of eating oily fish (rich in Omega 3 fatty acids), is alleviating joint stiffness and joint pain.
Drink at least 2 litres of water daily.
Drier skin shows more wrinkles and deeper furrows. Dry skin could be a sign of dehydration or insufficient water in your body. Dehydration can cause inflammation and age your skin and body.
Water is essential for skin health, it helps your skin maintain optimal moisture. Water hydrates, refreshes and replenishes skin tissue and cells, resulting in increased elasticity. Increased elasticity delays the onset of wrinkles and fine lines.
Keep your skin and body hydrated by drinking at least 2 litres of water daily.
Topical face creams
Anti ageing creams that contain Retinos, Peptides, Vitamin C, AHA’s can help revitalise and improve the appearance of your skin.
Retinols help improve sun damaged skin and slightly smooth out the apppearance of wrinkling. Since collagen is made up of 3 peptide chains, prepping your skin with peptide creams may help stimulate collagen production.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals. AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxic Acids) help remove dead skin cells. Removal of dead skin cells promotes better product absorption into the skin.
Also, moisturisers with high SPF 30 or higher protect your skin from UV rays minimising fine lines.
Oral collagen supplements
There are oral collagen supplements on the market that claim to minimise visible signs of aged skin helping the skin look more youthful. Make sure you do your research properly if considering this or consult a dermatologist/doctor.
Surgical treatments like skin fillers.
Skin or derma fillers are chemical substances injected into the layer under the skin to “fill in”or smooth fine lines, wrinkles, creases and plump up skin and lips. Using skin fillers nowadays is like getting your nails done – a routine procedure. Fillers are non-prescriptive beauty solutions, this means anyone who is licensed can do it for you. However, do your research before you dive into using them.
Since this blog is about non evasive solutions to ageing, I won’t write about this.
Kindly leave a comment. I’d love to read your thoughts about ageing.