While we can’t turn back the ageing clock, there are some things we can do to slow it down and increase our chances of a longer healthier life.
Editor Jane Garton looks at simple lifestyle tweaks we can all make to support skin anti-ageing plus the herbs that may help to reduce the effects of the passing years.
A good night’s sleep is essential to good health. Aim for at least seven to eight hours a night and establish a good sleeping routine. Start with a relaxing routine pre-bedtime – for example, a warm bath, with a few drops of calming lavender oil added to the water plus a soothing cup of warm milk.
Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day also helps regulate your internal body clock, which governs the sleep-wake cycle. And don’t forget to ban mobiles, tablets and computer screens from the bedroom. They emit blue light, which disrupts melatonin, the sleep-regulating hormone.
We need more protein to protect the health of our muscles, bones and joints as we get older so try to plan meals around a source of protein. Think lean meat, tofu, fish or beans. Include some healthy fats such as nuts, avocado or olive oil, and plenty of fibre-rich veg. Hold back on the carbs and choose wholegrains whenever you can.
We can’t avoid stress altogether and indeed a certain amount is essential to keep us motivated, but too much can be detrimental to good health. Make time to relax every day. Relax on the sofa with a book, watch a film or DVD, have a massage or spend time with friends and family.
Be a volunteer
Countless studies show that there are many health benefits of volunteering. And it may even help us live longer, according to researchers from the University of Michigan. The reasons? Volunteering can help reduce stress and boost levels of happy brain chemicals. Helping others has also been shown to help with chronic pain and cardiovascular health. So, contact your local volunteering service, charity shop or community gardening project and lend a helping hand.
Give your mind a work-out
Sudoku, crosswords and joining in with quiz shows can keep our brains mentally alert. The mind and the body work on the ‘use it or lose it’ principle, so use your brain like a muscle to help slow down mental and physical ageing.
Keep on the move
Exercising helps control weight, improves heart health and counteracts stress. Aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, of moderate activity. Anything that makes you slightly out of breath and sweaty – think brisk walking, cycling, swimming, jogging or running.
You should also add in a couple of resistance or strength-training sessions per week. This includes anything that makes movement harder such as using weights. Many yoga postures require you to use your muscles to hold your body in certain positions – this is also classed as strength training.
If thirty minutes in one stretch is too hard to fit into your busy life, break it into 3 x 10-minute chunks throughout the day.
If you have trouble sleeping, natural remedies containing valerian can help promote sleep while relieving anxiety without the risk of grogginess on waking.
Suffering from stress overload? Try a dose of Siberian ginseng. It boosts the adrenal glands – the small glands above the kidneys – that secrete stress-fighting hormones.
Feeling lackluster and listless? Guarana was traditionally used by Brazilian Indians as a stimulating beverage. Made from the seed of a climbing vine, native to the Amazon rain forest, it is great for an instant energy boost.
Finding it hard to concentrate as you try to solve those crossword clues? In a clinical study Rhodiola was found that rhodiola exerts an anti-fatigue effect that improves mental performance – particularly the ability to concentrate. It was also found to decrease stress in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome.
St John’s wort
Don’t let a bout of the winter blues get in the way of a healthy lifestyle. St John’s wort has long been used to relieve symptoms of low mood and mild anxiety.