Earlier this year, writer Karen Asp published a book called Anti-Aging Hacks. Just as the title suggests, it’s filled with easy, actionable tips for living longer and feeling your best along the way. There’s nothing revolutionary here: Just reminders of how simple it can be to tap into good health. Here are just a few ideas from the book.
Eat Fruit Instead of Processed Sugar
Want to slow the aging process? Quit indulging your sweet tooth with food-like products that contain added sugar, and instead reach for nature’s candy to quell your sweet desires.
Added or processed sugar (not the natural kind from fruits and vegetables) attaches to proteins and fats in your body to create harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). AGEs interfere with collagen and elastin, two compounds your skin needs to maintain its youthful appearance. Collagen is crucial for your skin’s structural support, while elastin is responsible for your skin’s resilience. Because AGEs prevent efficient collagen repair, you wind up with premature skin aging, and when elastin is affected, your skin elasticity is reduced. The end result? You look older.
Plus, sweets can pack on pounds, and high-sugar diets have been linked to diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. Look for added sugars, which are in 74 percent of packaged goods sold in grocery stores. Sugar has at least 61 different names, including agave nectar, cane juice, caramel, corn syrup, dextrose (and anything else ending in “ose”), molasses, and rice syrup. The American Heart Association recommends limiting daily added sugar intake to 6 teaspoons if you’re a woman and 9 teaspoons if you’re a man.
Bottom line: When you stop eating as much sugar, you’ll then crave less sugar. How can you cut back your added sugar intake? Whenever you’re craving something sweet, reach for fruit instead. Try grapes, strawberries, and pineapple for that extra burst of sweetness. You can also put frozen fruit, like raspberries and mangoes — add a banana for more creaminess — in a food processor and blend until smooth for a frozen dessert treat.
Sleep on Your Back
Whenever you sleep on your side or stomach, you’re creating unwanted lines in your face. Side sleepers usually end up with wrinkles on their cheeks and chin, while tummy dozers gain more wrinkles on their brow. Over time, those wrinkles can get deeper and become permanent.
Wrinkles aren’t your only worry. Sleeping on your side can also make you lose facial volume or change the shape of your face on the side you sleep on. The effect is so pronounced that skin experts often say they can tell how you sleep just by looking at your face.
So sleep on your back if at all possible. If this causes your back to ache, slip a small pillow under your knees. If you can’t stay in that position all night, use a pillow with a hole in the middle. It’ll keep your head aligned and prevent you from rolling to your side.
If all else fails, at least switch sides every night — so if you sleep on your right side one night, sleep on your left the next to help balance out the loss of facial volume. Or when you’re on your stomach, rotate your head from one side to another so you take pressure off your face.
Establish a Regular Yoga Practice
If you want to slow the hands of time, aim to hit your yoga mat at least three times a week.
Ancient yogi texts suggest that a regular yoga practice may delay the aging process, and studies now prove that. In one study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, yoga was linked to an increase in two substances, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-S) and growth hormone (GH). They’re known as anti-aging hormones (DHEA-S is sometimes called the youth hormone), but they typically decline with age. Unless, that is, you’re doing yoga. Twelve weeks of doing yoga six days a week significantly increased both hormones in middle-aged individuals. Another study in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity showed changes in cellular aging after individuals did 12 weeks of yoga and meditation five days a week for about 90 minutes each time.
Yoga also improves numerous variables associated with aging. You’ll build balance, especially when you do poses like warrior and tree, which can reduce your risk of falling. Yoga helps fight age-related declines in your flexibility, which can affect your daily functioning. And while it’s not like lifting weights, yoga can increase muscular strength to some degree, even helping you build some bone density.
If you’re new to yoga, take an introductory class from a qualified instructor so you can learn the poses. You can also do yoga at home through DVDs, free YouTube videos, or online streaming sites like myyogaworks.com, yogaglo.com, or yogadownload.com. Aim to practice yoga at least three times a week.
Try Soy Milk on Your Crow’s Feet
While crow’s-feet are a sign of a joyful life, you might not like how they look. Crow’s feet are those little fine lines that run from the corners of your eyes outward, and although they do indicate that you’ve smiled a lot, they can be one of the first — and most annoying — signs of aging.
While Botox is an effective treatment, so, too, is soy milk. You can certainly drink soy milk — studies are showing that one serving a day of soy milk has potential benefits for the skin, including decreasing wrinkles and the depth of wrinkles and helping with dryness, elasticity, coarseness, and pigmentation — or you can apply it on your skin. Doing so can increase your skin’s elasticity, thicken thinning skin, and moisturize the skin to soften those crow’s feet. It can also help depuff your eyes. Just soak two cotton balls with soy milk and, while lying down, place them over your eyes for roughly five minutes.
Karen Asp is an award-winning journalist and author who covers fitness, health, nutrition, pets, and travel. To learn more about Asp, go to karenasp.com. To purchase Anti-Aging Hacks, go to amazon.com.