On one hand, we have cosmetic companies and plastic surgeons telling us that we need to buy creams, have ourselves injected with botox or collagen; get nips, tucks, and lifts; brave the possible dangers of hormone replacement therapy and pray for a miracle.
On the other hand, the natural health approach advocates awareness of diet and exercise, the value of antioxidants, a change in pace, and a healthy-mind-equals-healthy-body attitude.
If we followed every skin, exercise, and diet regime that’s been recommended by countless ‘experts’ we’d never leave the house. That having been said, none of us want to die even a millisecond earlier than absolutely necessary and the benefits of longevity don’t need to be spelled out.
So what do we do?
Anti-Aging — the Scientific Approach
Mankind has made an incredible medical discovery…
We can make rats live longer!
Are you stunned? If you’re a pest exterminator, you’re probably overjoyed.
Seriously, though, a study on the longevity of rats — and how to increase it — has yielded interesting results.
Scientists from the University of Florida’s Institute on Aging have discovered that a simple 8% reduction in calories and a moderate amount of exercise can slow down — and even reverse — the effects of aging in rats.
It’s believed (and is well on the way to being proven) that cell death and aging-related damage to organs are caused by certain unstable molecules, cellular oxidation and inflammation.
A calorie controlled diet reduces the inflammation and therefore inhibits the death of cells.
For science, the biggest challenge is finding out why we age in the first place. It’s now thought that aging may to some extent be caused by an aging cell’s inability to replicate, which is a phenomenon known as ‘replicative senescence’. As cells lose their ability to replicate (generally after between 60 and 90 replications), the body’s immune system is weakened, wounds are slower to heal, and wrinkles start to form.
Anti-aging medication — the sort that your doctor will prescribe — is very limited. The most well-known medical anti-aging remedy is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). While there are good arguments for and against HRT, the simple fact is that we don’t really know enough about this treatment to categorically say that’s effective, let alone safe.
While scientists are struggling to explain the aging process, cosmetic companies are going to all sorts of lengths to fight it. There are countless creams and serums, beauty regimes and wrinkle remedies on the market today.
Cosmetic remedies such as skin creams should probably not be labelled as anti-aging. While they may slow — and even sometimes reverse — the visible signs of aging, they don’t contribute in any way to a person’s longevity.
You may look better in your coffin, but, under the skin, your body will have deteriorated much the same way as that of someone who has never seen the inside of a beauty salon.
This is not to say that cosmetics have no place in the fight against aging. There’s nothing wrong with having beautiful skin well into your twilight years; it just needs to be recognised that any cosmetic regime must be combined with other anti-aging practices to be truly beneficial.
Living Longer Naturally — the Healthy Lifestyle Approach
You may have heard the expression that ‘age is a state of mind’. In many ways we can see this to be true. We all know people who should be in the peak of life but, due to circumstance or attitude, lead the life of someone much older.
Conversely, we also know ‘elderly’ people that could give the average 40-year-old a run for their money. Why is this?
If you watch people that still seem to have boundless energy as they age, you will probably notice that those people are very active, and approach everything — even simple day to day things — with a positive attitude.
The more that you remind yourself of your age, the older you will feel. If you constantly focus on negatives then your health will be negatively impacted. It’s simple common sense: we all know that laughing makes us feel better. Therefore it’s logical that spending much of our time in a dissatisfied or depressive state would have a negative impact on our health and wellbeing.
Really, it all comes back to healthy mind, healthy body. And it works both ways.
For example, it’s a scientific fact that plenty of daylight and sunshine helps to ward of depression. Exercise releases endorphins that make us feel good. Eating well gives us energy and bolsters our immune system.
One important factor of a healthy lifestyle, especially with regard to anti-aging, is the minimisation of stress. There are countless negative side effects of too much stress in our lives, so anything that you can do to alleviate stress is beneficial. Go for quiet walks, surround yourself with positive people, meditate, and make sure that you have some time to yourself occasionally.
Learn to say ‘no’ – you can’t be all things to all people.
Lastly, a diet consisting of lots of fresh fruits and veggies is invaluable. The body thrives on all things raw and vital. Grains and nuts are also full of necessary protein, and sprouts such as wheatgrass are the ultimate mineral supplement when juiced. Buy yourself a good cold press juicer, such as the Greenpower Kempo, and make your own fresh fruit juices.
Pure water is also important. Our bodies are 70% water so it makes sense to drink the purest water possible. Dehydration also has a negative impact on energy, so if you’re tired you may want to try drinking lots of water.
The fact is that, at this stage, we aren’t really sure why the human body ages. Until we have a better grip on the process of aging we won’t be able to combat it effectively.
Despite this, chances are that, if we lead a healthy lifestyle and occasionally indulge in anti-aging products such as cosmetics, we have a reasonable chance of aging gracefully.
Budda had the right idea when he said: “Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.” So far, even science can’t beat that advice.