10 Things You Need To Balance If You Want To Age Well
Written by: Sarah Lawrence
What if I told you that there are 10 simple things you can do to help slow the aging process and maintain your health and vitality, even after the birthdays where your cake is impressively ablaze with candles?
Balancing a few key factors and keeping yourself happy and as stress-free as possible may be the keys to living a longer, healthier life. And I’ll bet you that feeling healthy, energetic and balanced will translate into a more youthful appearance, so you’ll be looking as great as you feel!
Check out these 10 things that can help you feel your best, year after year:
1. Hydration/Dehydration. All kinds of symptoms get kicked up when the body is dehydrated. Books have been written to help you understand why hydration is important. And there are apps and special bottles available to help you get on track to consistent daily hydration. Mood, weight, sleep, energy level, skin health and blood pressure are just a few of the things that take a hit when the body is dehydrated. Aim for 8 gorgeous glasses of clean, clear water every day.
2. Hormones. So often people think of libido and monthly cycles when they hear “hormone imbalance,” but we need to understand that hormones are power players in the body. Hormones are connected to just about every function in the body.
Balance is key, so get in for your yearly physical and get things checked out under the hood. Go in with a list of any symptoms you’re experiencing and take the time to ask questions. Often, a simple blood panel will give you and your practitioner some great information and get you started on your path back to balance.
Things you can do anytime: balance your blood sugar; nourish your body with whole, fiber rich foods and plenty of water every day; get sweaty, on purpose; take a break for sanity’s sake and keep a journal so you get to know your reactions and responses to foods, family, friends, functions and fun. Everything is connected. Happy hormones happen when you understand your body and how it is connected to, well, everything.
3. Digestion. You’ve jumped aboard the kale train, are a morning smoothie pro and even have a healthy relationship with fat. High fives all around! Problems come when you’re eating the best foods in the perfect quantities, but your digestion is poor or you suffer from some level of leaky gut. Nutrients just don’t get to where they need to and your body can’t tap into the goodness that you’re putting in your mouth.
Research shows that the body’s natural level of hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzymes decrease as we age. Less HCl and less digestive enzymes equals poorer digestion and is associated with osteoporosis, anemia, diabetes, general allergies and food allergies. The bottom line is that digestion needs to be healthy and strong to keep your body healthy and your cells happy.
Bitters, HCl therapy, digestive enzymes, nutrient rich food, the timing of meals, proper hydration and just slowing down are all effective means you can try to get your digestive fire burning bright! Partner with your trusted medical professional to get some advice on which approach is right for you.
4. Toxicity. Unless you’re living in a remote and pristine jungle somewhere, the environment is pretty toxic. We’re surrounded by stuff in the air and water, stuff in our food, stuff in our personal care products and even in the fabric of the clothing we wear. Studies show that babies are entering the world with upwards of 200 different chemicals already in their blood!
The issue is one of a balance point: when we exceed the body’s capacity to process and shed the toxins, the toxins can build up and manifest in many ways, including disease and premature aging.
5. Stress. Hello. Stress is huge and its power underestimated. Stress is essentially a response to fear. The stress response of the body supports the natural fight or flight reactions necessary for survival when faced with real danger.
The body releases hormones that increase focus, awareness, reaction time and blood flow to your muscles and sensory organs. When this happens in response to a clear and present danger, you are working to stay alive.
The problem comes when stress is triggered by constant daily circumstances like bills, relationships, work, traffic, poor nutrition, etc. In these cases, stress wages significant effects on overall health.
6. Sleep. It’s not called “beauty sleep” for nothing, my friend! Poor sleep can impact brain function, focus and mood. It can also impact the look and health of your skin. Poor sleep can mean not enough hours, or interrupted sleep or sleeping 8-10 hours, but waking with a feeling of not being rested (i.e. not getting into deep REM sleep).
Consistent, quality sleep allows the body to shift into rest and repair mode where growth hormones and collagen do some of their best work. For the sake of your skin elasticity and fewer wrinkles, get yourself to bed on time.
7. Sun Exposure. Too much and you burn, get more wrinkles, fine lines and age spots… not to mention a fabulous increased risk of skin cancer. Not enough and your skin is dull, your mood is SAD and your skin won’t produce enough vitamin D to keep you healthy.
Balance comes in morning and late afternoon sun or a few minutes of mid-day exposure. Many tout the benefits of sunscreen, but I see both pros and cons with it so I’ll leave that for you to research for yourself and decide.
8. Exercise. Lack of exercise, excess exercise or the wrong kind of exercise can do you in when it comes to aging. The benefits are really clear on this one. Weight bearing exercise is critical to bone health. Balanced cardio, strength and stretching all help keep your body conditioned, your brain active, your mood light and your sleep deep.
No excuses. Your doctor can help you figure out what activity level is safe and then a good exercise program can be modified to meet you at each age and stage.
9. Food Allergies. When your body views something you’re ingesting as a foreign invader, your immune system takes a lot of heat. Untreated, food allergies open you up to systemic problems that can turn into chronic nightmares. Unexplained headaches, fatigue, skin problems, depression and weight problems are the tip of the iceberg.
The systemic inflammation triggered by food allergies and sensitivities can wreak havoc on your organs and is even linked to a higher risk for Alzheimer’s. Bottom line: manage your food allergies.
10 .Weight. Being overweight by even 10% burdens your body. From the wear and tear on your joints and organs to the toxins that get stored in fat cells, holding extra weight can make it very difficult for your body to perform in the healthiest way.
Normalizing weight is often more challenging as you age, so aim to balance the top 9 factors. You will have an easier time getting your body to a healthy weight when everything else is balanced.
There are some biggies on the list. I get it. To keep from getting overwhelmed, take a minute and review the list right now; write it down and rate where you’re at in each area using the key steps below.
My Anti-Aging Hit List:
1. Start by putting a checkmark next to anything that you’re already doing.
2. Next, circle 2 things that you know you can start doing right away.
3. Put a square around the number of everything that you know you can do with a little support, like exercising, weight balancing and reducing toxicity.
4. Finally, put a heart around the things that you need to make some appointments to handle (often this is the hormone piece and food allergies); these are the ones that you need to make some phone calls and schedule some time with your trusted healing team.
When you break it down, it’s doable, right? Drink enough water, balance your bod, cut out the bad stuff, focus on the good; let go of the things that don’t serve you, have fun getting sweaty and learn to enjoy the sun and the stars and everything in between. You’ve got this! Step by step, you can support your body.
Take a minute and share your strategy for healthy aging in the comments below. Let us know what things you’re aceing and where you need support. Share your tips for aging beautifully.
Sarah Lawrence is a Certified Holistic Health and Integrative Nutrition Coach, Speaker and Reiki Master based in Southern NH. Sarah creates lifestyle transformations by coaching her clients to shift from their current habits into healthier ones. Her philosophy is that small changes, over time, can yield big results. By developing a technique that leverages the benefits of whole foods nutritionals, seasonal detoxification, reiki, aromatherapy, meditation and life coaching, Sarah artfully combines her knowledge from years of study in the fields of chemistry, nutrition and energy healing.
Sarah leads clients from frustration due chronic health issues to elation by attaining and sustaining balanced health. Her intuitive style supports true healing on all levels. Sarah studied at Fairfield University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition; she is pursuing her Masters in Clinical Nutrition and is dedicated to continuing her studies so she can provide the best support for her clients.
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