Fend off these five signs of aging—and look and feel years younger.
Aging has a lot to do with attitude. As George Bernard Shaw put it: “You don’t stop laughing when you grow old, you grow old when you stop laughing.” But there has to be more you can do, no? To nd out, we asked a few experts how to deal with the most annoying signs.
MOOD AND HORMONAL SHIFTS
Hormones shift throughout life, with levels of sex hormones rising during puberty, uctuating every month (and with pregnancy) for women, and dropping in later years. And then, says Erika Schwartz, MD, a leader in natural hormone balancing and author of e New Hormone
Solution, “Irritability is the classic story.”
Age-related changes in sex hormones get a lot of attention but our hormones all work together. As estrogen and testosterone levels drop, so do serotonin and dopamine, which in uence mood. And so, we have grumpy old men, and women. Memory and focus problems, anxiety, and even palpitations can be other symptoms
In addition, says Schwartz, many women become depressed because they feel as though they’re losing their identity and have become invisible. All too often, doctors prescribe antidepressants which can make matters worse, depleting the urge to have sex and causing weight gain in some people. “e drugs are adding insult to whatever is left of their identity as a younger woman,” she says. What to Do Recognize that changes need to be made and daily habits make a big difference. “Once you’re in your 40s, 50s, and beyond, you cannot eat the way you did in your 20s and 30s,”
says Schwartz. “And if you’re sedentary, your bones will fall apart, your brain will fall apart, and you will fall apart.” Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do. Here’s what she recommends:
Include protein at each of three daily meals and cut back on starches and sugars. Eat whole foods instead of “low-carb” or “low-fat” processed foods in packages. If you need to snack, go for berries and nuts but, cautions Schwartz, “Don’t eat a gallon of them.” Eat only when you’re hungry. Make it a priority to move more. Schwartz recommends setting an alarm or reminder to get up and move around every 45 minutes—walk in a circle or in place, but move. Right after getting out of bed in the morning, spend 20 minutes stretching and doing a few other exercises, such as sit-ups, leg raises, arm raises, yoga—whatever works for you, but schedule it into your day. Try other activities, such as Pilates, swimming, dancing, hiking, or biking, always warming up before and stretching afterward. Take basic, essential supplements: a multivitamin, magnesium, probiotics,
Fish oil, and vitamin D. And consider hormone-balancing ingredients such as DIM (diindolylmethane) and indole-3-carbinol (I3C), found in cruciferous vegetables but much more concentrated in supplements. If you do all the right things and continue to have di culty, nd a health professional trained in natural hormone therapy. Places to check include “Find a Doc” at agemed.org and naturopathic.org.
“Sagging comes from genetics and a breakdown of collagen, not so much the sun,” says says Kally Papantoniou, MD, a board-certi ed dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology, PC, in Great Neck, N.Y. Stress, lack of sleep, and an unhealthy diet accelerate the breakdown. And losing a lot of weight can also contribute to sags.
A combination of resistance and aerobic exercise will help to tone muscles and reduce sags below the neck. But with
age, there’s naturally a certain amount of volume lost in the face, giving it a saggy or jowly look. Aside from a full face lift, there are minimally invasive
Fillers, mild lifting procedures, and laser and other treatments that stimulate collagen production. And, the right nutrients can de nitely help.
What to Do Eating collagen, in bone broth or collagen supplements, doesn’t mean the collagen will go directly into your skin. However, says Papantoniou, “It gives your body building
blocks for making collagen.”
Drink bone broth and/or take collagen supplements.
Take the supplements listed on p. 62 for crepey skin.
AGE SPOTS AND CREPEY SKIN
“They come from cumulative sun damage—not last summer, but earlier in life,” says Papantoniou. “In your 40s, you see damage from your 20s.” Tanning beds are especially harmful because there are no
Filters from gases and particles in the atmosphere, as there are outdoors. Drinking and smoking make things worse.
While you can’t turn back time, skin cells turn over throughout life, and using sunscreen and getting the right foods and supplements will make new cells healthier in several ways. Sunscreen will reduce
further harm. Avoiding sugar and starches will reduce the breakdown of collagen, which supports skin structure, and maintain levels of elastin, which makes skin supple and helps to reduce crepiness. Avoiding dairy and, for some people, gluten, reduces inflammation that speeds up skin aging. And antioxidants reduce and repair UV damage.
What to Do Papantoniou has found that many people put sunscreen on their face, but forget the neck and chest where the skin becomes thinner and crepey. In addition to eating a good diet and taking basic, essential supplements, she recommends the following: Extra vitamin A from cod-liver oil, for a total of 1,000 to 5,000 IU daily. Extra vitamin C from camu camu powder, 500 to 1,000 mg daily Extra vitamin D3, for a total of 2,000 to 5,000 IU daily, but it’s best to get vitamin D levels tested. Additional antioxidants such as Pycnogenol, grapeseed extract, lycopene, and/or resveratrol.
Some people have a genetic predisposition to lose their hair, but hormonal imbalances and nutritional de ciencies also play a role. “e most common reasons for hair loss, especially for women, are an underactive thyroid and stress,” says Mache Seibel, MD, author of e Estrogen Window. An imbalance of other hormones can also contribute. Pulling hair back tightly, wearing extensions, and styling with high heat can break hair. More fragile when wet, hair should always be treated gently.
What to Do While individual hormone balancing is something addressed by trained practitioners, a good diet and basic, essential supplements build a healthy foundation to support the thyroid and other hormones. In addition, Seibel recommends: Reduce stress by relaxing, getting enough sleep, and turning off TVs and other devices a couple of hours before bed. If you watch TV in the evening, stay away from news after 6 p.m. Avoid toxic hair products and toxins in general, as the thyroid is especially vulnerable to toxins. Take biotin supplements for healthy hair and nails.
All too often, we look for quick energy fixes, but sustaining energy takes a more holistic approach, which Seibel calls “the sum of you.” Otherwise, he says, “It’s like having three good tires and one flat one.” A whole-food, low-carb, preferably organic diet that supports hormone balance; daily exercise; good-quality sleep; stress control; and essential supplements lay the foundation.
“The most common reasons for hair loss, especially for women, are an underactive thyroid and stress,” says Mache Seibel, MD, author of The Estrogen Window. Depletion or imbalance of other hormones also contribute.
“I also use adaptogenic herbs, such as rhodiola and eleuthero,” says Robert Kachko, ND, LAc, a naturopathic physician and acupuncturist in New York. Adaptogens are viewed as tonics that can have an energizing or calming effect, depending upon what’s needed at a given time.
They make it possible to enhance energy without causing jitters or interfering with sleep. B-complex vitamins also support and stabilize energy. What to Do Get enough protein: about 40 to 50 gm daily for most women and 50 to 70 gm daily for most men. Stay hydrated. Water is best. Drink half your body weight in ounces, e.g., 75 ounces for a 150-lb. person. Try rhodiola, eleuthero, or an adaptogenic herbal formula. Take a B-complex supplement.
MEET THE EXPERT: Jennifer Yepez is a professional hairstylist whose work has appeared in top fashion magazines, including Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire, and in notable fashion shows including Dolce and Gabbana and Vera Wang.