Image Credit: Mohamed Nohassi via Unsplash
As we get older, it’s only natural to start noticing physical changes in our bodies that simply didn’t happen before. That doesn’t mean, however, that we have to settle for the way things are—we can always do something about it! Here are 10 natural ways to stay young, from eating better to reducing stress and more.
1. Walk 10,000 Steps a Day
According to WebMD, walking has a ton of health benefits. Exercising regularly can help you lose weight, build muscle and lower your risk for many common diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes. If you’re over 40 or have a chronic illness, check with your doctor before you begin an exercise program. For healthy adults, try walking 10,000 steps a day — that’s about five miles (8 km) of brisk walking — as part of your overall fitness plan.
2. Eat 5 Fruits and Vegetables Every Day
Vitamins, minerals, and fiber are vital for your long-term health, but they’re also important for youthfulness. That’s because as you age, your body has a harder time absorbing nutrients from food and maintaining healthy cells. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help keep you youthful by increasing your daily intake of vitamins, minerals and fiber while providing essential antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals—the bad molecules that can damage healthy cells. Getting enough vitamin C is especially important. Low levels of vitamin C have been linked to wrinkles, weak skin collagen, and slower wound healing. Keep yourself young by eating five servings of fruits or vegetables every day.
3. Watch Out for Unhealthy Foods
When you’re trying to lose weight, one of your goals is likely to eat healthier. By eliminating as many unhealthy foods from your diet as possible, you reduce how much you consume and improve your health overall. While certain foods aren’t always inherently unhealthy (whole grains and lean proteins, for example), in excess they can have a negative impact on your body. When it comes down to it, it’s about balance—you want to consume enough calories and nutrients so that you stay healthy but not so much that anyone’s food ends up being detrimental to your health. If processed or otherwise less-than-ideal foods make up most of what you eat, consider cutting back or rethinking your diet.
4. Try Acupuncture
Nowadays, more and more people are turning to holistic treatments for healing. Acupuncture is growing in popularity all over North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Its effectiveness has been proven time and again: acupuncture can help with stress, regulate moods and alleviate pain. Plus there’s no risk of negative side effects (or pain). Though doctors may be skeptical about acupuncture at first, they’re becoming increasingly open-minded as research continues. In fact, a 2013 survey of 1,400 doctors showed that 83 percent think it should be covered by insurance companies! So if you want a youthful appearance and feel younger than your years–or if you just want some peace of mind–ask around for an acupuncturist in your area.
5. Be Happy!
Studies show that being positive, happy, and having a positive outlook is one of the most effective ways of living a longer, healthier life. It’s almost impossible to be positive all of the time, but if you can shift your perspective on things even for short periods, it’ll improve your quality of life in many different ways. If you aren’t much for keeping a journal or reflective thoughts in general, focus on something bigger than yourself by giving back; it’s a great way to help others while bettering yourself at the same time.
6. Have Fun!
One of your main goals, when you’re young, should be having fun, whether that means you’re looking for a thrill ride or just enjoy going to a good concert. However, as we get older we tend to forget about why we were doing those things in our youth. When was the last time you went on a roller coaster? Or watched something so funny it made you cry from laughing too hard? For many of us, it’s been far too long. Remember how good it felt to do these things and incorporate them into your life more often. You deserve to have fun!
7. Breathe Deeply
It’s surprising just how important breathing is, as it plays a huge role in our physical and mental health. When we breathe properly, we’re able to think more clearly and remain calmer throughout stressful situations. You can practice deep breathing on your own or with a partner, who will count for you. Inhale through your nose for four counts; exhale through your mouth for six counts. Repeat 10 times. If you start feeling lightheaded after three minutes of slow-paced breathing, stop immediately! This technique is not recommended if you have anxiety or panic disorders because slow breathing can increase stress levels.
8. Get Enough Sleep
What if getting enough sleep were just as important for your health as eating your vegetables and staying active? That’s what researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) are saying. They looked at data on more than 400,000 women between 32 and 59 years old from 2004 to 2012. In that time, over 37,000 women died. The Harvard researchers found that, compared with sleeping 5 hours or less per night, sleeping 6 hours per night was linked with a 12% lower risk of dying during that time period. Sleeping 7 hours was associated with a 15% lower risk. And sleeping 8 or more hours was linked with an 18% lower risk of death—that’s 36 minutes longer than sleeping 7 hours!
A daily meditation practice can help keep us young by improving our ability to regulate our emotions. Being in a calm, relaxed state triggers various hormones that have anti-aging benefits for our bodies. In fact, studies show that people who meditate often look younger than their actual age. Researchers found that meditators were perceived as being younger and less stressed than non-meditators, regardless of their actual age or stress levels. Start small with just a few minutes each day, then try adding one more minute every week until you reach 20 minutes a day (about 20 minutes is optimal). Better yet, start with an app like Headspace or Calm that can make it easier!
10. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is rich in catechins, a type of antioxidant that may help slow cell damage. Evidence from population studies suggests that higher intakes of catechins are linked with lower risks of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. A review published in 2016 found that adding green tea to a healthy diet could lower cholesterol levels and body weight. Other research has found similar benefits, including reducing belly fat, hip fat, and waist circumference. However, it’s important to note that not all green teas are created equal.