Turning back the hands of time—it’s a quest for many women who simply refuse to age gracefully. And with all that’s available aesthetically (Botox, wrinkle creams, etc.), the visible signs of aging can be erased altogether. But what about on the inside? Are there ways we can beat the clock for life when it comes to overall physical and mental health and well-being? Dr. Jennifer Landa, MD, Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD and author of The Sex Drive Solution for Women says yes.
“Staying young and beautiful forever used to be science fiction, but fiction is rapidly becoming fact, thanks to new medical advances,” Landa says. “Yesterday’s advances focused on disease management; today’s new frontier is staving off sickness and aging altogether.”
What you put in your mouth can affect your mind. And it’s important to start eating right as early as your teens and twenties to stave off mental stress. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American adults between the ages of 18–24 suffer the most mental health distress.
“This age group is under a great deal of pressure, especially today with the poor economy,” Landa says. “Proper nutrition is a key factor in combating conditions associated with mental distress such as avoiding processed foods, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol. This will reduce the demand on the adrenal glands, which are responsible for secreting cortisol (the stress hormone) and play a role in managing your metabolism.”
Dr. Landa recommends taking supplements containing vitamins B, C, and magnesium to support overall adrenal health. Certain herbs such as Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are also useful for combating stress and boosting adrenal health.
Monitoring your hormone levels throughout your life and taking action to maintain balance or repair imbalances can combat many of the conditions of aging, including insomnia, low libido, memory loss, and unwanted weight gain.
“Hormones control everything in the body, acting as the body’s chemical messengers to ensure optimal functioning. For example, low testosterone can tank your libido, while low levels of progesterone are linked to insomnia and other sleep disturbances,” Landa says. “As previously mentioned, too much cortisol can cause foggy thinking and undesirable weight gain. The chronological aging process is unstoppable, but the way you look and feel over the course of a lifetime is heavily linked to hormone balance and lifestyle choices.”
“Chronic stress initiates an increase in the amount of cortisol secreted daily, which leads to weight gain, irritability, insomnia, mood disorders, low libido, high blood sugar, and high blood pressure,” Landa says. She suggests stress-lowering techniques such as deep belly breathing and yoga.
Cardiovascular exercise also helps relieve stress because it boosts levels of endorphins, the feel-good hormone. And don’t forget strength training.
“Many women shy away from resistance training, but this form of exercise is crucial for maintaining bone density and a slim, toned appearance,” Landa says.
Our body’s largest organ—our skin—shows the signs of aging more than any other body part.
“The most important preventive measure you can take against the sun is to build up your antioxidant levels and maintain adequate levels of vitamins A, C, D and E,” Landa says. “Eating lots of brightly colored organic fruits and vegetables also boosts levels of these vitamins. These powerful vitamins work liked natural sunscreen for the body, aiding in the prevention of skin aging and skin cancer.”
Of course daily sunscreen is also recommended. Look for Titanium Dioxide based formulations and those that are “broad-spectrum” to protect against all types of harmful UV rays.
Within the last year, researchers have uncovered multiple bodies of evidence that sleep (both the quality and quantity of it) is imperative to multiple aspects of your health.
“While you sleep, your body enters a sort of ‘repair mode,’ repairing damage from the day and preparing your body to handle whatever comes next,” Landa says.
Not getting enough sleep can also lead to chronic adult-onset illnesses that can shorten lifespan like type 2 Diabetes. “Researchers found that low-quality sleep increases insulin resistance by as much as 82 percent. Another study found that lack of sleep (less than 7.5 hours a night) exacerbates genetic influences linked to weight gain and obesity. Ideally, you should achieve seven to nine hours of sleep each night—and that’s actual time sleeping, not just lying in the bed.”
Even more motivation to move up your bedtime: “Without high quality and quantity of sleep, your metabolism can slow to a crawl. It can also increase storage of deadly visceral fat around your organs,” Landa says.