10 ways to feel (and look) good forever
1. Avoid drinking from bottles & through straws
You probably know that what you drink can affect your looks, but you may be surprised to hear that how you drink can also influence how well you age. In fact, sucking on straws and drinking out of sports bottles causes the same pursing action - and therefore the same fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth - as smoking. "Pursing your lips can cause unnecessary lines," says skincare expert Renee Rouleau . Drink directly from the glass whenever you can to help keep the wrinkles at bay.
2. Cut down on sugar
Sugar consumption is up there with sun exposure and smoking when it comes to the major causes of wrinkles. A study by Leiden University Medical Centre and Unilever found that people who have high blood glucose levels (usually caused by a diet packed with simple sugars, found in chocolate, biscuits, white bread and pasta) look older than those with lower levels. The scientists also discovered that every additional hike in blood glucose above the average added a whopping five months to facial features. "Reducing the amount of insulin in your bloodsteam could be the key to slowing ageing," says Patrick Holford, nutritionist and author of The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing. Eating sugar causes insulin to surge into the bloodstream, helping your cells absorb glucose and use it as energy. Over time, too many sweet-treat binges can make your body resistant to the effects of this blood sugar-balancing hormone. Scoffing sugar can also damage the structure of collagen, the protein responsible for supple skin. Once damaged, the normally springy collagen hardens, leading to wrinkles and sagging.
3. Eat yourself youthful
Fill yourself up on these three foods, believed to give you extra ammunition when combating the signs of ageing.
Green tea Green tea boasts a wealth of benefits that earns it the top spot in our anti-ageing food list. Believed to help regulate blood pressure, lower blood sugar, boost the immune system and lower cholesterol, studies have even shown that it can be effective at preventing cancer. That's as close to the elixir of life as you can get.
Dark chocolate Cocoa is rich in a group of antioxidants called Flavonoids, which help preserve healthy function of the blood vessels and a youthful circulatory system, which lowers risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease and dementia. Go for a square a day and the more than 70 per cent cocoa bars.
Soy products Like fish, soy products such as tofu are a great alternative source of protein to red meat or even dairy, since they have little or no saturated fat. A diet that's low in saturated fat will reduce your risk of developing heart disease and lower blood pressure. As a staple part of the Japanese diet, soy products are great at helping keep down cholesterol.
4. Pop a beauty pill
The trend of ‘eating beauty' has pushed many beauty brands to add supplements to their skincare lines. Recently launched in the UAE, Inversion Femme is the first all-in-one anti-ageing supplement with a patented formula designed to offer women a way to regain and preserve the youthful appearance of their bodies in three key areas: skin (wrinkles and dryness); hair (thinning and hair fall); and nails (appearance and brittleness). Promising to deliver results after just one month, you take three capsules daily. Dh260 for a 30-day supply, available at all major pharmacies. Also available in the UAE: BioCare Hair & Nail complex, features horsetail (a form of silica) as well as zinc, Dh173 for 90 capsules, available at Organic Foods & Café; and Perfectil Triple Active, a skin, hair and nails supplement, which blends more than 20 micronutrients to help cell maintenance and renewal, Dh48, available at most pharmacies.
5. Use your brain
Brain scans show that when people use their brains in unaccustomed ways, more blood flows into different areas of the brain, and new neural pathways form. In a study in the journal Nature in 2004, young people were taught how to juggle. After three months, MRI scans showed enlargement of the grey matter in their brains - the part responsible for higher mental functions. When the participants stopped juggling, their brains shrank again, suggesting that we need to keep our brains engaged to maintain mental agility and function. So, whether it's juggling or a crossword puzzle, give your brain a daily challenge. Another study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that more frequent participation in mentally stimulating activities can lead to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's. Download the Better Brain app ($2.99), whose via audio/video tasks can help you work your brain.
6. Stretch and strengthen
Everyone knows about osteoporosis - the loss of bone density that sets in as our skeletons get older and less active. But a similar disease, sarcopenia, affects your muscles as you grow older. Between the ages of 30 and 80, 15 per cent of muscle mass is lost (and with it goes strength and tone). But is the loss due simply to advancing years or declining levels of activity? In one study, published in International Journal of Sports Medicine, 70-year-olds who had lifted weights regularly for more than ten years had as much muscle as 28-year-olds! Add a couple of strength training sessions to your weekly regime to help preserve your muscle mass. Flexibility also begins to deteriorate with age as connective tissues stiffen, muscles shorten and joints become drier as synovial fluid dries up. While you might not care about touching your toes, not being able to do up your bra strap or bend down to tie your shoe laces can dent your independence! Regular mobilising and stretching (and it's never too early to start) can help to reduce the effects of aging on joints and muscles. Try Pilates or Xtend Barre.
7. Buy into Retinol
Most of us will have a few crow's feet and worry lines by our early thirties, as well as a drier, less even skin tone. Over the next decade or two, lines will increase and deepen and skin will be less elastic. For lines and wrinkles, use a product containing a vitamin A derivative such as Retinol. "Use skincare products containing retinol to increase your cell turnover and firmness - and give a much smoother texture," says Celeste Hilling, founder of Skin Authority. Try one of these...
-Lancaster Retinology Rich Cream, Dh375 Formulated with Retinol, this targets wrinkles, loss of firmness, dark spots and a dull complexion.
-La Prairie Cellular Power Charge Night, Dh2,100 Using never-seen-before fusion of Retinol and Oxygen, this stimulates natural cell turnover.
-Philosophy Miracle Worker Miraculous Anti-ageing Pads, Dh365, Sephora Pour the retinoid solution on the pads to help support your natural collagen.
8. Increase your intake of antioxidants
As we age, levels of harmful free radical levels rise, while the body's production of antioxidants — the compounds which can ‘mop up' free radicals — declines. "There's been interesting research that suggests antioxidants can be helpful for ageing skin," says Dr Nick Lowe, consultant dermatologist at London's Cranley Clinic. Antioxidants fight free radicals - unstable molecules that can cause damage to skin cells. According to studies at the Human Nutrition Research Centre on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, antioxidant-rich foods may slow ageing processes in the body and brain. Researchers found that foods such as blueberries and spinach could increase the antioxidant power of human blood by 10 to 25 per cent — so try eating more of these. The antioxidant vitamins A, C and E play a major role in protecting the body against free radicals, so aim not only to get your five-a-day, but also ensure that you take in a wide variety of fruit and veg, especially those of strong colour. Vitamin A in particular helps to keep the skin strong and healthy, which we get in our diet from foods rich in beta-carotene. And if you press your palm and underlying colour is white or grey with no hint of yellow, you're not getting enough beta-carotene from red, orange or yeloow foods," he adds, "so try to eat plenty of carrots, sweet potato and butternut squash."
9. Fill up on fatty acids
As your skin ages, it's vital to ensure you're getting plenty of essential fats. "Fatty fish such as salmon is high in vitamin A and essential fats," says Patrick. Mackerel, herring and tuna are also good sources of omega-3, which has been found to protect against cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, as well as helping skin stay elastic. Research by Rush University in Chicago in 2005 also found that eating oily fish can slow the mental decline associated with ageing. The results showed that eating oily fish at least once a week can slow the rate of cognitive decline by 10 to 13 per cent per year.
10. Stress less
Research has found that stress can increase the risk of heart disease and speed up cell ageing. "Stress will increase cortisol levels, which in turn increases body fat," says personal trainer Shari Friedman . Not only does excess fat make you look older, studies show obesity can shorten your lifespan by nine years! Celeste recommends yoga, Pilates and meditation. Meditation is a good practice to take up to keep stress at bay. "Meditation is a means of changing your wellbeing by releasing stress and tension," says Dr Aarti Khosla, founder of the Temple of Inspiration in New Delhi. "We all need a calm mind to operate at our highest potential and meditation is a self-empowering habit that not only cleans cobwebs in the mind but conserves energy. The goal is to bring a sense of control, provide a calmer and deeper insight into your daily life, and enhance your ability to focus your mind."