Aging is a beautiful, natural journey, yet many women experience stress and the weight of societal expectations when it comes to the process. Although searching for a magical fountain of youth is futile, we can take special care of ourselves to ensure that we age healthfully and with grace. Reducing stress, keeping active, nourishing the body, and practicing self-care rituals will all help to slow the aging process, making it less taxing on the body and mind.
Although aging is inevitable, we don’t have to look upon it as a bad thing. We must remember the importance of perception. How we think and feel about aging can greatly affect the process, so try connecting to all of the positive aspects of growing older.
You can also feel empowered knowing that although the clock marches on, there are easy, natural ways that you can support your body through the process. Use this guide to age gracefully and feel as fabulous as you deserve to!
As we age, the body’s systems and processes begin to slow - enzyme and stomach acid production decreases, metabolic processes slow down, the immune system becomes weaker, and cell turnover declines. This means that the body needs extra support. A nutrient-dense plant-based diet full of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, organic meats and eggs, beans and legumes, whole grains, and fermented vegetables will provide the necessary nourishment.
Focus on foods rich in calcium and vitamin D to support bones and joints (leafy greens, fatty fish, egg yolks), healthy fats to support the brain and cognitive function (olive oil, avocados, ghee), vitamin A-rich foods to support the eyes (sweet potatoes, kale, beef liver), sulphur-rich foods to support the liver’s detoxification pathways (garlic, eggs, cruciferous vegetables), and plenty of antioxidants to support immunity (blueberries, pecans, dark chocolate).
Eat regularly at consistent times to ensure even blood sugar levels, and make sure to include protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and fiber with every meal (with a probiotic source such as fermented vegetables too!). Warm, comforting, and nourishing foods are best to counteract the effects of the Vata dosha, which is cold and airy and predominates in older age. Opt for soups and stews over cold salads and raw vegetables.
Hydrate Drinking more water as we get older is absolutely vital. With the loss of muscle mass that tends to occur with age, the body loses the accompanying water mass (muscles are 70% water!). Thirst sensitivity also decreases with age, so we must make a conscious effort to drink more water.
Proper hydration supports the kidneys, encourages proper detoxification and elimination of toxins and excess hormones, and reduces headaches and constipation. Adding more water to your day will also help you age gracefully as hydrated skin is healthy skin, and is less likely to show fine lines and wrinkles. Put lemon or other fruits into your water for additional nutrient benefits and a great taste, and try coconut water and herbal teas as other healthy and delicious ways to stay hydrated.
Eat the rainbow
Phytonutrients are found in plant foods, especially when in their raw form. They contain antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties that help to fight against internal and external stressors, toxins, and other forms of damage, reducing the signs of aging. Eat a broad range of fruits and vegetables of various colors, ideally in season and locally grown.
What to eat: Think rainbow! Blueberries, figs, eggplant, bok choy, rapini, tomatoes, orange peppers, papaya, and shitake mushrooms are all nutrient-dense foods that are high in various anti-aging antioxidants.
Essential Fatty Acids
EFAs are not made by the body, and because they are essential to the proper function of all our organs and systems, must be obtained from our diets. EFAs help with the balancing, production, and secretion of hormones, which help to reduce stress levels and boost anti-aging hormones. EFAs also contribute directly to the health of the epidermal and dermal layer of the skin. They contribute to a fuller, more plump skin layer by retaining water, nutrients, and healthy fat in the skin. They help to nourish and moisturize the skin from the outside in. EFAs also have anti-inflammatory properties, which help to reduce damage done to the skin by free radicals.
Wild-caught fish, the smaller the better! Sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and trout
Wild game or organic lean meats (turkey, chicken)
Raw nuts - cashews, walnuts, and almonds
Amino Acids and Collagen
Amino acids (broken down protein) are the building blocks of our body, so it’s no wonder they are so important in the health of our largest organ - the skin! Amino acids help to keep the skin strong and add elasticity to support healthy, supple skin. They’re precursors to collagen production, so consumption of foods rich in amino acids and collagen directly helps to eliminate wrinkles and the signs of aging.
What to eat:
Spirulina is one of the best sources of amino acids and is also super high in phytonutrients.
Bone broth made from grass-fed beef or organic chicken is high in amino acids and collagen.
Collagen protein added to smoothies.
Getting physical activity is one of the fastest ways to release endorphins. Endorphins are feel-good, euphoric hormones that lower stress levels and help us to feel youthful and healthy.
Daily incorporation of an invigorating yet gentle exercise routine is essential in maintaining a healthy body. Avoid anything too strenuous or intense, as this can cause oxidative stress and free radical damage to the body. The key over intensity is consistency.
Yoga - Yoga incorporates a mindfulness to the practice and allows us to keep our bodies strong and healthy while simultaneously supporting our brain health and reducing stress.
Pilates - A women-focused workout, pilates helps to strengthen and maintain core health and elongates the muscles, all while preventing unnecessary stress in the body.
Swimming - Swimming allows for natural, strength-increasing movements in the water, and is very gentle and supportive of any joint/muscle-related issues in the body such as arthritis. Saltwater adds an additional therapeutic aspect, so if you aren’t coastal, find a salt water pool in your neighborhood to take advantage of the additional benefits
Pranayama/Breathing Techniques - Pranayama essentially means the circulation of life force within the body. Through breathing techniques, you are essentially taking in and distributing longevity throughout your being.
The connection of breathing techniques with anti-aging is specific to stress reduction and mental health support. Immediately, breathing exercises contribute to a feeling of calmness and well-being which helps to relax the facial muscles and reduce frowning of the face, diminishing the appearance of wrinkles. Long-term, pranayamas oxygenate the body, invigorating it, supporting blood flow and nutrient distribution, and reducing free radical damage associated with aging.
Quick 3-Minute Breathing Technique
Sit in a comfortable space: either on a chair or on the floor on a pillow/bolster with your hips above your knees, and your hands in your lap. It’s advised that this exercise is done sitting, as laying down can induce feelings of sleepiness.
Set a timer for 3 minutes.
Inhale deeply through your nose, counting to 5.
Hold your breath for 5 counts.
Exhale through your nose for a count of 10.
Repeats until your timer goes off.
Take a few minutes at the beginnings and ends of your day to follow this breathing exercise. This can also be done at any time during the day if you feel stressed or overwhelmed.
Increasing circulation stimulates blood flow throughout the body. This helps to cleanse the blood, oxygenate the body, and ensure proper nutrient distribution. The stimulation of blood flow also helps to increase collagen production and detoxify the body of harmful toxins. You can increase circulation through exercise, dry brushing, hydrotherapy, and exfoliating the body.
Anti-aging can be supported by herbal supplementation. Here are some great options:
One of the best sources of vitamin C
Antioxidant effect that reduces free radical damage and inflammation
Promotes collagen production
Reduces oxidative stress
Reduces blood pressure and stress
Hydrates the body and skin from within
The skin is our largest organ, and what we put on it is absorbed into our system, directly affecting the health of our skin. Follow these skin care steps to reduce the signs of aging from the outside.
Traditional soaps and foaming cleansers are often drying and damaging to the skin, especially aging skin which is more fragile and thin. Oil cleansing is a great option, as it gives the skin a heavy hit of moisture. Jojoba, apricot, and olive oils are all wonderful for normal to sensitive skin, and coconut oil is great for oily skin as it has slightly anti-septic properties that balance excess oil production.
Rosewater is a wonderful toner that hydrates the skin and helps to diminish wrinkles. If you have oily skin, use a witch hazel rosewater to help balance excess oil.
Serums are lightweight oils and moisturizers that go underneath your regular moisturizer to deeply penetrate the skin for effective hydration. Carrot seed oil is a great option, as it’s extremely high in antioxidants and retinol, which helps to boost collagen production. Carrot seed oil also works as a natural SPF, protecting the skin from harmful sun rays without the extra harmful additives of sunscreen.
Heavier creams are best to support anti-aging, especially during the colder months. Look for oil-based creams with herbal additions such as calendula, camellia, and chamomile to nourish and hydrate the skin. Royal jelly is another excellent addition - the food of the queen bee, it increases collagen production and vitality.
Oils are very supportive to skin, and can be used either underneath creams and moisturizers, or alone in warmer or more humid weather. Some great options to explore include:
High in EFAs
Intense moisturizing effect due to high GLA content
Boosts collagen production
Smooths scars and wrinkles
Diminishes dark spots and sun damage
At home anti-aging facial massage has recently grown in popularity due to its facility and success.
With the proper nourishment, self-care, physical activity, and added support, aging can be an enjoyable process that is appreciated for its experience and beauty. Self-compassion and self-care are the keys to healthy living and to promoting wellness and grace with age.