Everyone gets older, that’s a given. But how the body ages has little to do with time and everything to do with lifestyle and health. There are several natural ways to keep your body, cells, and skin young, even as you naturally move forward in years.
Harness the natural power of foods, nutrients, and lifestyle hacks to keep your cells functioning optimally and to lower your risk of developing age-related health problems, like dementia and diabetes.
The Physical Impact of Aging
Aging isn’t as simple as just getting older each year. Our cells replicate thousands of times daily, and each time a new copy is made, information must be transferred over, including the DNA from each cell.
As we get older, this replication process can start to have errors in it — little bits of information get left out, or DNA gets replicated incorrectly.
The result is what we know as a natural process of aging, but what we don’t always realize is that this process is highly dependent on factors that have nothing to do with how many candles are on our birthday cake.
The cells need certain nutrients to do their job, and when those nutrients are lacking, regardless of age, “aging” signs set in.
Other elements of modern culture can make us prematurely age, too, like junk foods, chronically stressful lifestyles, poor digestion, too little sleep, and too many hours of work.
The good news is that you can turn back the clock on how your cells are working and help halt the signs of aging. Between some dietary shifts, some lifestyle adjustments, and a few biohacking secrets, you can be well on your way to a younger-feeling version of yourself.
10 Things To Start Today to Slow the Signs of Aging
These are the top 10 anti-aging tips you need to know. Before implementing any dietary or lifestyle changes, it’s always vital to speak with your doctor first.
Drink Dark Roast Coffee
Whether you choose caffeine or decaf, dark roast coffee helps fight the aging process by maintaining DNA integrity. What does this mean?
As DNA is copied from one cell to the next, the antioxidants and other compounds in dark roast coffee help to decrease oxidative stress which is responsible for breaking DNA as it is replicated. Oxidative stress is a key sign of aging, so the lower levels you have, the more youthful your cells behave.
Coffee starts protecting your DNA immediately, literally within hours of drinking it. (1) In order to reap the benefits, you’ll need to drink it daily, with some research showing that two or three cups is the ideal daily intake.
Remember, you don’t have to drink caffeine to get these benefits, but if you choose decaf, be sure you select a water-processed version to avoid the chemicals sometimes used to strip caffeine from the beans.
Get More (and Better) Sleep
If you’re not sleeping seven or eight hours a night, or you toss and turn a lot when you’re in bed, it’s time to put some effort into fixing your sleep issues.
If you’re having trouble sleeping, troubleshoot it a few ways:
- Set a sleep routine. If you’re habitually staying up late and watching Netflix or surfing social media on your smartphone, it’s time to put the devices away and turn the TV off at least an hour before you need to be sleeping (two hours before is better). Spend time reading a real paperback book, talk with your partner or loved ones, or handwrite to-do lists for the next day. Whatever your activity, stay away from the blue light of tech devices. If you can’t, get blue-blocking glasses to help reduce the effects of technology on your brain’s sleep cycle.
- If you’re tired but can’t fall asleep easily, ask your doctor about some natural anti-anxiety and sleep aids, like theanine or valerian root. Magnesium is also great for helping promote muscle relaxation and restful sleep.
Healthy sleep — both in enough hours and in quality of rest — is a key to not only staying young but staying healthy in every other aspect of life.
A super popular supplement in the health world, collagen is renowned for the health benefits it offers for the gut, hair, and skin. These include slowing down the signs of aging on skin, but also on cells in the body.
Collagen is one of the most abundant proteins in the body, and as we age, we naturally make less.
Supplying it from dietary sources or supplements can help to maintain the elasticity of skin and the integrity of the gut wall, reducing the chances of premature aging or developing chronic disorders that can increase oxidative stress and cellular damage in the body.
Collagen peptides are a popular supplement that can be found in most health food and even grocery stores now. Collagen is also found in food sources like bone broth and bone broth protein powder.
Try HIIT Workouts
High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is a fast-paced but shorter duration style of exercise that uses higher intensity workouts to keep your heart-rate up higher versus walking or resistance training.
While HIIT workouts might not be for everyone, many styles of exercise can be modified to use HIIT principles.
HIIT comes with an anti-aging bonus: the higher rate of working out comes with benefits that keep cells younger, longer.
Telomeres, which are the structures at the ends of chromosomes, grow shorter as you age, but HIIT workouts can help them maintain their length and even get longer.
Practice Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting differs from true fasting because you’re still eating food, you’re just leaving longer gaps between meals. Intermittent fasting, sometimes referred to as IF, is a 12 to 18 hour gap between meals where you don’t eat any food and you only drink water, tea, or black coffee.
Most people who practice intermittent fasting begin after dinner, say around 7 PM, and then skip breakfast. If they eat lunch around noon, then they’ve just completed a 17-hour fast.
How can this be beneficial if breakfast is supposed to be the “most important meal of the day?”
IF isn’t for everyone, but research shows that it can be highly beneficial in some cases. Benefits of intermittent fasting include: (3)
- Decreasing the risk for heart disease and diabetes, which are commonly increased with aging
- Improving energy levels
- Boosting brain function, memory, and ability for cognitive thinking
- Improving insulin function and glucose levels
- Supporting neurological health and decreasing the risk for degenerative diseases that are associated with aging
Fill Your Diet with Anti-Aging Foods
While there are many foods that are good for you, certain foods help to protect cells from oxidative stress, damage, and a faster aging process.
Eating more of these foods can help infuse the body with nutrients that slow down the results of aging, and have a lot of other benefits too, like reduced inflammation, protection from chronic disorders, and healthy hormone levels, too.
If you want to eat for anti-aging benefits, add these to your regular weekly rotation:
- Fermented foods, like sauerkraut and kimchi
- Sweet potatoes
- Bone broth
Get Plenty of B Vitamins
Associated with a healthy nervous system, B vitamins have a calming presence in the body. But they’re also associated with numerous chemical and biological processes that can turn genes on or off, affecting inflammation levels, cellular health, mental health, cognitive function, and so much more.
B vitamins work best when they’re synergistically taken as a family, so if you’re supplementing, choose a B-complex that contains all of the nutrients: B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, folate, and B12.
Also, make sure to choose a methylated or active form supplement since half of the population or more has a genetic mutation that makes activating the cheaper versions more difficult.
Methylated versions of B12 and folate are most important, respectively known as methylcobalamin and methylfolate (or L-5MTHF).
You can also get B vitamins from food sources. Foods that are rich in one or more B vitamins include:
- Green leafy vegetables
- Citrus fruits
- Dairy products
Focus on Hydration
We know water is important, but sometimes in the busyness of life, staying hydrated falls through the cracks. Hydration is essential for digestive, kidney, and liver health but it’s also vital for healthy skin and cells — which is how it influences the aging process.
All cells contain water, and in fact, the human body is about 60 percent water. When we run low on fluids, cellular replication processes are not as effective, the skin becomes dried out and more prone to wrinkles, and digestion can suffer, leading to a decreased absorption of the nutrients the cells need.
Dehydration or low fluid levels can also decrease the amount of oxygen in the blood, which can lead to signs of aging, too, and oxidative stress.
How much water you need can vary, but a general rule is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you would need to drink 75 ounces of water.
This is just a rule of thumb though, and if you’re highly active, you could need more, or you might not need quite that much. Another gauge to determine hydration level is to check the color of your urine. As odd as that sounds, if it’s almost clear or very pale yellow, you’re taking in enough fluids.
If it’s darker yellow or amber, you’re dehydrated and need more water. You can also hydrate by drinking herbal teas. While coffee, black tea, and green tea contribute to fluid intake, relying heavily on these isn’t the best since they contain caffeine, and for some, caffeine can have a dehydrating effect.
Use Anti-Aging Essential Oils on Your Skin
While a large part of the aging process occurs inside the body on a cellular level, the skin needs some extra love too if you’re going to downgrade the impact of aging.
Certain essential oils can be therapeutic for the skin and can help to nourish, hydrate, and even prevent wrinkle formation.
Some essential oils have antioxidant and skin-supporting benefits. Choose a carrier oil, like jojoba or almond, that has skin-nourishing benefits, and add your favorite combination of essential oils.
The following oils are all associated with anti-aging benefits when used topically:
- Rosemary: improves circulation and decreases inflammation
- Rose: antioxidant and promotes cellular renewal
- Sandalwood: anti-inflammatory and moisturizing
- Geranium: moisturizing and skin renewing
- Ylang-ylang: antioxidant and damage repair
- Frankincense: evens skin tone and decreases wrinkles
- Lavender: antioxidant and skin brightening
Meditation and Yoga
If you want to reverse the aging process, turn to meditation and yoga. Research shows that these can so effectively reduce stress in the body, both physical and mental, that it can reverse damage in the DNA and cells that results in health problems, anxiety, and depression. (4)
Meditation and yoga both work to soothe the nervous system, cooling the “fight or flight” response that can set off a chain reaction of stress, oxidation, and DNA damage.
We live in a chronically stressed out society, which is partly why yoga and meditation can be so therapeutic: slowing down, breathing deeply, and refocusing the mind has far-reaching benefits that go so far as to optimize how cells function.
In order to reap the benefits of yoga and meditation, you need to practice them regularly. Working them into a regular part of your daily or weekly routine can lead to improved mental health, physical health, and yes — decreased signs of aging and DNA damage on a cellular level.
Aimee McNew, MNT, CNTP, is a certified nutritionist who specializes in women’s health, thyroid problems, infertility, and digestive wellness. She ate her way back to health using a Paleo diet, lost 80 pounds, and had a healthy baby after numerous miscarriages. She focuses on simple nutrition practices that promote long-lasting results.