Something people ask me about every day is how to slow down early signs of aging. Studies show that at least 25% of adults in North America feel many years older than their chronological age, especially adults between the ages of 40-50. In other words, it’s really common to be prematurely aging.
There are so many areas we can address to literally turn back time with your physiology. Here is a summary of some of the most important ones that will not only reduce the visible signs of aging like wrinkles, postures and changes in body shape, but also slow down your internal body’s signs of aging too.
It’s not surprising to hear that a lack of sleep can physically age us as we can all see the visible signs of aging like dark circles under the eyes, puffy skin and changes in abdominal weight as we become more sleep deprived. Studies show that sleeping less than 5 hours per night age us between 4-5 years. (1) Overall, consistently for 7-9 hours per night is most associated with longevity, although this can vary individually.
There are a few considerations with nutrition, and the most important is blood sugar and insulin regulation. What this means is eating balanced meals, especially focused on vegetables and not overdoing simple carbohydrate foods. Minimizing inflammation by eating whole foods, rather than processed foods, as well as a Mediterranean-type of diet are also associated with longevity. Finally, incorporating some degree of fasting or time-restricted eating, and not overeating are also strongly associated with slower aging.
(3) STRESS REDUCTION
The most powerful step you can take to reduce or even reverse signs of aging is to get a handle on your stress. In a study by the Canadian Institute of Stress which included 3269 participants, they found that after 8 months of stress coaching, the study group had reduced their body age by more than 11 years. They had more energy, their muscles were more flexible, posture more erect, vision and skin tone better, and wrinkles were less noticeable. (2) A stress coaching program is one where your individual stress-type is identified in order to identify the best type of stress-reducing strategies that you require to cope better with your daily stresses.
(4) MEDITATION & STILLNESS
Quite simply put, our bodies heal during a state of rest or stillness, and this is the best way to get into ‘rest and repair’ mode. When we are constantly on the go, always moving and rushing through our days our systems have less time to repair. We need to get out of the sympathetic nervous system state of going and doing, and into the parasympathetic state of relaxing to allow for cellular repair to slow down aging.
(5) HORMONE BALANCE
Part of what influences your aging is the shift in your hormones with age. Changes in your adrenal hormones, such as DHEA levels, changes in growth hormone, shifts in thyroid function, and also changes in estrogen-progesterone balance. A close look at your hormone balance can also optimize your health and aging.
Did you now that your beliefs and expectations about aging can have a great impact on how your body responds and reacts? For example, you may have an image of what happens at age 40 or 50 or 60, based on what you perceive around you or what you have observed in your family. It’s amazing how these beliefs and expectations can affect the changes within your own body. In my discussions with hundreds of patients, I often see some type of a health crisis or shake-up when turning 40 or 50, as these beliefs are brought the forefront. My advise here is to never use age as an excuse, and look at reframing your expectations and fears as you age.
Your next steps
If you feel that you are starting to age prematurely, start by tackling just one of the areas mentioned above first. For most of us, stress is the most significant factor and may require thorough plan to reduce your day-to-day stressors and change your body’s response. We can back up our anti-aging strategies with lab testing including hormones, markers of inflammation, markers of blood sugar stress and personal genetics. Remember that just like the study done by the Canadian Institute of Stress, you can reduce your body age significantly and experience both an increase in energy and vitality, and less visible signs of aging.
- Tworger SS, et al. The association of self-reported sleep duration, difficulty sleeping and snoring with cognitive function in older women. Alzheimers disease and associated disorders 20, no. 1 (2006); 41-48.
- Earl, Richard, Ernie David “Reduce Your Body Age”. The Canadian Institute of Stress, 1998.