How Will You Choose to Age?
Take a good look around you at people 40 and over. At this point, how they have chosen to live is reflected more and more in their overall appearance, and the differences in mood, diet, habits, activity level between them have become more evident.
While genetics, and sometimes circumstances beyond a person's control, do contribute to how well we age, multiple studies indicate that our own life choices are the biggest factor.
The Enemies of Aging Well
The world around us is a virtual battleground of elements that want to rob you of your youth. Most of them, like smoking, substance abuse and lack of sleep are well known common knowledge. But, there are some that you might not have considered, many that can be beat with relative ease. Here are 5 of them:
1) GIVING UP
There are a lot of people out there who simply give up. They feel they are past the point of no return, or it's too late in life, and resign themselves to being unhealthy. How they age has been put out of their minds.
Stress can actually damage cells. Even the anticipation of stress can accelerate the aging process. It can lead to hearing and vision loss, and contribute to living an unhealthy lifestyle. There are indications that it could also drive the brain into faster aging-related decline.
3) SUGAR and PROCESSED FOODS
Sugar is not your skin’s friend. Experts say eating too much over many years turns skin dull and wrinkled. Sugar wreaks the most havoc on collagen and elastin in skin. These keep our skin firm and elastic, but once damaged by long term sugar consumption, collagen and elastin become brittle, and wrinkles can form.
Processed foods are generally loaded with sugars, sodium and fats, not to mention ingredients with names we can't even pronounce.
4) SEDENTARY LIFESTYLE
Research has also shown a link between inactivity and premature cellular aging. It concludes that physical activity is one of the key components to maintaining cellular-level vitality, especially in middle-aged adults and people with chronic illness. “Physical activity and exercise may have both protective and restorative effects, and as such, show great potential to improve well-being and increase longevity,” they conclude.
5) THE AIR WE BREATHE
Prof Jean Krutmann, director at the Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine in Germany, said: “UV [damage from the sun] was really the topic in skin protection for the last 20-30 years. Now I think air pollution has the potential to keep us busy for the next few decades.”
The effects of toxic fumes on skin are being seen in both western cities, such as London and New York, as well as in more visibly polluted Asian cities and in some cases may be the primary cause of ageing. The pollution is also being linked to worsening skin conditions such as eczema and hives.
It is Not Too Late
In a nut shell, aging well boils down to living well. And, while an unhealthy lifestyle can be self perpetuating, a healthy one can be as well.
Diet: There are many different schools of thought on what constitutes healthy eating. Some say that grains are our enemy, while others rely on grain based diets. We will not promote one over the other, but will gladly point out their commonalities:
Every healthy eating plan I can think of agrees on this. And, it truly is the simplest way to get back on track. Just don't eat it. You could change nothing else about how you eat, only eliminate sodas, candy bars, donuts, junk food..., and begin to look and feel better in a very short period of time.
Vegetables: Almost all healthy eating plans recommend vegetables and fruits (too a lesser extent) as the basis of their diet. Jonesing for that candy bar? Munch that celery. You WILL get used to it, and actually come to prefer it.
Fats: Not only does your body need it for fuel, but your brain depends on it. So, Welcome fat back to the table. It’s good for the heart, brain, immune system and just about every aspect of human physiology you consider. And as it specifically relates to dementia, new research clearly shows us that individuals eating more of the “dreaded” fat actually have a substantial risk reduction for becoming demented while those with diets favoring carbohydrates the risk for dementia dramatically increased.
The trick is eating HEALTHY FATS. And, if you increase your fat intake, you'll want to decrease your intake of carbs. To what extent depends on your level of activity.
Speaking of which:
Exercise: Diet and exercise alone will do so much to beat those enemies of aging. You will feel better about yourself, more motivated. You will reduce your stress levels, sleep better, crave less junk food. And, the longer you stick with it, the more you begin to crave these healthy habits.
The late, great Jack LaLanne would say, If you have lost it, you can get it back. He taught that even the elderly could dramatically improve their physical health—it’s never too late to start getting active.
Even something as simple as beginning to stretch different parts of your body throughout the day will trigger an urge to be more active. Start as slow as you need to. The point is simply START, and keep with it.
Skin: While exercise and diet are key to looking and feeling better, therefore aging better, our skin is really the key to younger appearance. And, it is under constant attack by the sun and pollutants in the air.
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