Here are some of my healthy ageing tips. I am often complimented on my ‘youthful’ appearance, in particular the condition of my skin, so much so that at times it’s been embarrassing, though such comments are always welcome. When people find out how old I am, many of them, mainly women, seem keen to know how I do it. Well, I don’t have a Hollywood style budget or a ‘glam squad’ to make me look good. I’m 58 years old and while I know I can’t stop the ageing process, I do believe there are a few foolproof ways to lessen its effects.
I have learned over the years that if you want to bring about any changes in the way you look, you have to make a few changes to your way of life, which require sustained effort. Your sleeping patterns, emotional balance, eating habits, exercise regime (or lack thereof), skincare routine and stress levels – all of this has an impact on the face you present to the outside world.
But first and foremost, you need to be realistic. How we look and how we age is, after all, about 50 per cent determined by our genes, and there’s only so much you can do to change what your genes have in store for you. Before I share my tips for handling the ageing process, let me say this. None of what I do is going to make you miraculously appear a decade younger, nor will it turn you into a supermodel, so pick out what appeals to you and give it a whirl – if you fancy.
It all starts on the inside
The ‘secret’, for want of a better word, to looking young on the outside absolutely must come from within. It is a mistake to try to paper over cracks in one’s veneer when, in reality, as with an old building, you really need to work on the foundations.
At the time of writing, Superdrug has just announced the launch of its Skin Renew Service, including treatments such as Botox and dermal fillers. It’s a divisive subject, no doubt about it, but I can’t help but feel worried about the potential harm this will have on young girls in particular. By normalising injectables and making them so readily accessible, I dare say young women will be queuing up for them, no longer stopping to consider whether they really need them, in turn making them less inclined to seek more natural ways to achieve a smooth complexion.
My husband Kevin and me last year on Mallorca. He’s 60 in September 2018, but I don’t think he looks it. He doesn’t have the same skin-care routine as I do, but he’s a pretty happy-go-lucky guy whose glass is always half full, and I think such an outlook contributes to anti-ageing too. A positive sunny outlook is so important don’t you think.
There are so many other ways to keep yourself looking and feeling young – super, simple ways that are tried and tested – and cost absolutely nothing. Laughter and great sex are two to start with. The release of feel-good hormones that comes from enjoying yourself puts a spring in your step and gives you a naturally more youthful appearance.
Studies show that people who are happy are more likely to be and stay healthy their entire lives. They have energy from all that happiness, so they’re more likely to be active, to eat things that are good for them, and to generally enjoy life because of it. They also don’t seem to age as much as that youthful glow of possibility is always there.
Keep it simple
My skincare routine is very uncomplicated. I wash with natural soap, usually Dr. Bronner’s or Faith in Nature. I skin-brush about once a week and I find that I hardly ever have to use body lotion. I very rarely use a moisturiser on my skin, perhaps just a little organic coconut oil, but I am religious in my use of factor 50 on sunny days (this includes a complete zinc oxide sunblock on my nose and hairline during hotter, sunnier periods). I also wear a hat with a wide brim.
Hydrate to boost your sleep – and overall health
I try to drink plenty of water, and get at least 8 hours sleep a night. Don’t believe the incorrect advice that as we age, we need less sleep. It’s well documented that Margaret Thatcher, allegedly, survived on 4-5 hours sleep a night, but these people are exceptions. All adults, regardless of age, need at least 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Research has shown that we need just as much sleep in our later decades than we did in our 20s, 30s and 40s. Here’s some research about the importance of sleep: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4849507/
I love coffee and tea, but I try not to consume it in excess; caffeine and refined sugar (including sugars and sweeteners in fizzy drinks) will cause the skin to age faster.
I also try (not always successfully…) to limit alcohol intake as it dehydrates and depletes the body of vital nutrients. Alcohol causes blood vessels in the face to dilate, and drinking too much has the potential to make these effects permanent, resulting in an unpleasant flushed appearance and red, spidery veins – never good if you want to look younger. Whenever I’ve drunk alcohol and I look in the mirror the morning after, I don’t like the face that looks back at me. It looks dull and lacking in vitality, and I absolutely know it’s the alcohol that’s the cause.
Stay out of the sun to stay young
Be careful about sun exposure. The sun’s rays are one of the biggest contributors to accelerated skin ageing so make sure you protect yourself if you go out in the sun for a long period. We need about 20 minutes of daily sun exposure, but more than that means we need to use skin protection to defend against UV damage. Even if it’s not sunny, your skin can suffer the effects of UV damage, so choose an everyday moisturiser with at least a SPF 15 rating.
Treat yourself to a facial
I’m a big believer in facials; I have one monthly. Even though I am happy with my daily skincare routine, the difference a professional treatment can make is second to none. The deep cleansing and moisturising is fabulous, but extractions are also a key part of a facial, as blackheads and whiteheads can cause wrinkles. A treatment that is tailored to your skin’s needs will not only give you a luminous and healthy complexion, but a good hour or so that’s completely yours – bliss!
Boost your physical activity
Exercise increases blood flow, moving oxygen and nutrients to working cells in the body – skin included – promoting a more youthful look, so make sure you are active. Physical activity helps us to sweat out unwanted toxins and this helps to brighten appearance.
We are not just what we eat – we are what we absorb too
I eat well and have been taking live bacteria supplements in capsule form for the best part of three decades. I take one of my own Just For Tummies Digestive Enzyme tablets before dinner every evening, and have been doing so for many, many years. Later in the evening, we have very little stomach acid and enzymes left, so the best time to take an enzyme is before an evening meal to ensure that food, in particular animal protein, is not sitting in the stomach and intestines, putrefying away and creating endo-toxic material that can further stress the body. Digestive Enzyme supplementation is of particular benefit to those of us over the age of 50. As we age, the production of stomach acid and digestive enzymes does slow down, so the best diet in the world is no better than the worst if we are not able to fully absorb and assimilate nutrients from it. Lack of nutrient absorption can cause fatigue, depression, hormone imbalances and skin problems.
Eat for your age
Foods that are important for older skin include nuts and seeds because they provide essential fatty acids, with the added benefit of being anti-inflammatory. The same applies to avocados and oily fish. We need a high intake of antioxidant-rich foods, including foods that are high in Vitamin C – oranges, blueberries, and plenty of vegetables. The antioxidants in these foods counter the free radical molecules caused by sun exposure, pollution, poor diet and stress, which all contribute to skin damage. Foods containing Vitamin C naturally contain collagen.
In contrast, sugary, carbohydrate-heavy, and fatty foods – think, chips, fizzy drinks, and white bread – can speed up the ageing process, so when shopping or dining out, opt for whole grains and natural sweeteners.
“It is above all the toxins generated by an ailing digestive system and gut which undermine our health and make us sick, prematurely old and ugly. “
Dr. F.X. Mayr