Saturday October 1st 2022

Natural beauty – holistic ways to halt the ageing process

Looking youthful and gorgeous is a lifestyle choice, not a quick-fix diet of creams and pricey potions. Waking up to wrinkles is every woman’s nightmare, but you really can slow the passage of time – without breaking the bank.

What we put into – and do – to our bodies is more important than what we slap onto our faces at night. Treating the symptoms of aging with facelifts and fancy facials can’t complete with clean, wholesome living – the real secret to sexy skin and a supermodel’s body (or close to it).

Biologically, we are born to die. Your body will naturally deteriorate as you age – but genetics and biology are not solely responsible for those droopy boobs, dimpled thighs and saggy cheeks.

We accelerate the aging process by abusing our bodies, on a daily basis, with poor nutrition, too much alcohol, too little water, smoking, over-exposure to the sun, stress, lack of exercise and pollution.

Our skin usually provides the first sign than we’re well past rosy-cheeked adolescence and on the slippery slope to wrinkly middle age. From as early as our twenties, cell renewal in the epidermis slows down and collagen production decreases, resulting in loss of plumpness and elasticity.

Throw in a pack-a-day habit, sugary and fatty foods or weekend booze-ups – as well as beauty products packed with chemicals and preservatives – and your skin will quickly start showing the effects.

To turn back the clock, you’ll need a variety of weapons to slow down any further damage to your skin and the rest of your body.

Start with nutrition – eating a diet rich in raw foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts, together with whole, unprocessed grains, gives your body what it needs to sustain life and look good. Drink at least 300ml of water per kilogram of body weight too – and make sure it’s filtered or distilled, if possible.

Fat is good – as long as you choose the right fats. Cut saturated fats and trans fats – the nasties found in processed biscuits, cakes and chips – and up your intake of essential fatty acids, which are found in avocados, raw nuts and seeds, fatty fish and unrefined, extra-virgin plant oils.

While you’re cleaning up your act, quit smoking and cut down on alcohol. Happily, it may even be beneficial for women to have a daily glass of wine and men two glasses.

Getting enough sleep super-charges your body through cell repair and resting your heart during downtime. Owl eyes and blotchy skin are often signs of a sleep deficit – so be a sleeping beauty and get to bed early.

Exercise is critical for curbing signs of aging. Studies have found that people who exercise regularly have better overall health – a significant factor in slowing the aging process.

Sun protection isn’t just about slathering on an SPF15 cream or avoiding midday heat – food provides protection from the damaging effects of heat too. Nutrition expert and author Mary-Ann Shearer (Healthy Kids The Natural Way, Ibis Books, 2004) says beta-carotene provides natural protection (eat lots of mangoes or carrot juice), while olive oil absorbs burning ultra-violet rays and is an “excellent natural sunscreen.”

n addition to a healthy lifestyle, feeding your body with additional supplements is a must. There are dozens of “anti-aging” miracles on the market, but start small and build up your nutrient arsenal slowly. Speak to your pharmacist or doctor about the best products on the market.

The hormone DHEA, produced by the adrenal glands above the kidneys, begins to decrease in our twenties. DHEA treatment increases beta-endorphins (feel-good) levels, leading to increased energy, better immune function, less stress, higher libido and in turn, better looks.

Lipoic acid, found in potatoes and red meat, regenerates antioxidants like Vitamin C, Coenzyme Q10, glutathione and Vitamin E into their natural, original form and helps neutralize skin damage caused by free radicals. Alpha-lipoic acid is found in supplements or creams.

Vitamins are vital too – E, B5, B6 and C are your best bets, while Gingko Biloba (known as the “brain herb” in Chinese medicine) is an antioxidant which ravages free radicals – gremlins that damage cell membranes, DNA and therefore, you.

A little cosmetic help goes a long way, if you choose your product carefully. Large beauty companies have the benefit of scientific research to back up their “miracle anti-aging” claims, but bear in mind that commercial products also contain questionable chemicals and compounds. Choose the most natural, organic skin care range that you can find – visit health shops or local online stores for advice.

Everyone has the ability to age gracefully. Time invested now pays dividends later, when you’re boasting beautiful, dewy cheeks at 75 – instead of a turkey neck.

© Beth Cooper, 2010