Mind & Spirit

Look and feel 10 years younger

Author: Canadian Living

Mind & Spirit

Look and feel 10 years younger

This story was originally titled "Look & Feel 10 Years Younger" in the July 2009 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

Part one: Eat to be 10 years younger

By Julie Beun-Chown

Marjorie Silcoff stares thoughtfully at the ceiling of her Montreal home. The 37-year-old has been trying to think of a downside to looking 10 years younger than her age and, apparently, she's just found it. "Last year, I was carded," she says with a giggle. "I was in California and we went to a lounge. The guy wouldn't let me in without ID. I couldn't believe it."

Tough break. Then again, she brought it upon herself.

Five years ago, she radically changed her diet and within weeks, her acne-prone skin had cleared up and smoothed out, and she had more energy to boot.

A remarkable transformation, but not unexpected, says Sam Graci, a Canadian nutrition researcher and founder of Genuine Health Products. "Our skin's composition is totally affected by the foods we eat," he says. Researchers at an Australian university found a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and oily fish reduces wrinkles and signs of aging.

So, if we are what we eat, what's on the menu to help us look and feel 10 years younger?

Wild fatty fish
Good for: firm skin

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, wild fish does double-duty as a beauty food, says Alan Logan, a naturopathic doctor and author of The Clear Skin Diet (Cumberland, 2008). Wrinkles and drying skin are exacerbated by sun damage, pollutants and free radicals. "But omega-3s can reduce the resulting inflammatory process and protect collagen, the structure of the skin," Logan says. Omega-3s also support healthy bones.
    
Low-fat yogurt
Good for: dental and gut health

The link between dairy foods and skin problems such as acne may have been established by three Harvard University studies, but low-fat yogurt is the exception. "Yogurt's calcium and phosphorus [also boosts] tooth enamel, which can reduce cavities and give us a beautiful smile," says Lisa Drayer, a beauty nutritionist and author of The Beauty Diet (McGraw-Hill, 2008). Probiotics in good-quality yogurts also help with food digestion, says Logan. The result? Eased constipation, fewer toxins stored in your body and reduced inflammation.

Oysters
Good for: hair, nails and skin

The zinc in oysters not only encourages healthy hair and nail growth, but it also plays an important role in skin renewal and repair. "The high zinc content of oysters is a great beauty benefit," says Drayer. Too slimy? Add crab, white beans or fortified cereal to your diet instead.

Page 1 of 5 – head to page two for more tricks to make you feel (and look) younger
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Sweet potatoes
Good for: skin

Sweet potatoes, known for their smooth skin and tapered ends, are loaded with complex carbohydrates, protein, beta-carotene and vitamins, including vitamin C. Just don't confuse them with the scaly, cylindrical yam, says Drayer. "Botanically, they're not even related."

Blueberries and other jewel-hued fruits
Good for: skin and eyes

The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranks blueberries first for antioxidant mojo because blueberries are protective against free radicals and enzymes "that would otherwise destroy collagen and connective tissue," explains Drayer. And that’s not all: blueberries support the health of your skin's elastin, filter damaging UV light and reverse brain aging, according to a recent U.S. Agricultural Research Service study.
       
Spinach and other dark leafy vegetables
Good for: eyes and skin

Spinach is rich in glutathion and selenium, which improve our cells' ability to decide what nutrients to keep and what toxins to dump.

"These vegetables act as antioxidants, preventing the degradation of cells," explains Graci. "In other words, they dramatically increase the life span of our cells," and protect our skin from oxidation and aging.

Tomatoes
Good for: skin

"Believe it or not, tomatoes are the one food I encourage you to enjoy processed," says Drayer. Why? In sauces, ketchup or paste, tomatoes contain more absorbable lycopene, an antioxidant pigment that protects against the worst effects of sun damage. It may also help protect against cardiovascular disease, cancer and macular degeneration.

Nuts
Good for: skin, hair and eyes

Don't go nuts eating nuts, but a few walnuts or pecans a day can provide skin-friendly vitamin E and alpha-linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid that protects against heart disease and bone loss, and keeps skin supple. "They help maintain the skin's barrier, so it stays hydrated," says Logan. "Your outermost layer of skin is like bricks and mortar; these fats help maintain the mortar."
   
Whole grain cereals
Good for: skin

Kamut, quinoa, kasha, spelt, amaranth – all exotic names for simple whole grains. But don't underestimate their power. High-fibre grains prevent our blood sugar from spiking, which can be like "acid rain on collagen," says Logan. "Too much sugar causes the scaffolding of the skin, the collagen, to be malformed." The result: dry, scaly skin – and wrinkles.
   
Cacao
Good for: skin

Is chocolate good for you? Yes, and no. Cacao – the base for dark chocolate – is a powerhouse of virtuous skin-friendly antioxidants. In fact, a University of Duesseldorf study found that eating 329 milligrams of cacao improves blood flow to the skin – resulting in better hydration and less roughness. Try lacing fruit smoothies and other food with the best quality cocoa available.

Anti-beauty foods
Sugar, saturated animal fats and refined grains such as bleached flour may taste great in doughnuts, french fries and burgers, but they starve your skin of nutrients and make you age more quickly. "When these fats are processed, they clog the little arteries that send blood to the skin, so it's technically in a drought and starting to starve," says Graci.

Page 2 of 5 - visit page three for part two of our plan!

Part two: Exercise and stress management
By Cheryl Embrett

If you want to look and feel younger, consider investing in a new pair of running shoes. "Exercise is the natural fountain of youth," says Sherri McMillan, one of North America's most respected fitness leaders and author of Fit Over Forty (Raincoast, 2001). "People who work out and take care of themselves look and feel so much more energized than their peers who don't," she adds. In fact, as much as half of the decline we experience between the ages of 30 and 70 can be attributed not to aging itself but to a sedentary lifestyle, according to the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute.
Ready to look younger? Here's how to get started.

Kick-start with cardio
Regular physical activity keeps everything humming along – your metabolism, digestive and circulatory systems, energy level, even your mind. In a recent Stanford University School of Medicine study, researchers followed a group of runners and nonrunners for 21 years and found that the runners put off age-related disabilities for 16 years longer than their less-active counterparts. Any regular physical activity that gets your heart pumping will help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, slow middle-age spread and give you a more youthful glow.

If that’s not reason enough to get moving, consider this: One study found that female and male swimmers in their 60s reported sex lives comparable to people in the general population who were in their 40s.

Getting started:
• Good cardiovascular options include walking, jogging, biking and playing tennis or dodgeball. "The best activity is one you enjoy and will do regularly so you get results," says McMillan.

• The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends that adults get 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Bonus: It's OK to get your fitness in mini-sessions throughout the day – a 10-minute jaunt at lunch, 10 minutes of tag with the kids after school, another 10 minutes walking Rover after dinner.

• To further stoke your body's fat-burning ability and melt away that muffin top, add interval training to your workout.

Page 3 of 5 - find more great exercises on the next page!
Squat and overhead shoulder press
This exercise works most of the muscles in your body. If you don't have dumbbells, use soup cans instead.

A:
Using three-, five- or eight- pound dumbbells, stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold weights at shoulder height, elbows down and palms facing in. Contract your abs and press your chest out and up, and shoulders back and down. Bend knees and slowly squat as if to sit in a chair. Keep knees pointing forward and behind toes, and squat until thighs are nearly parallel to floor (or to a comfortable position).

B:
Slowly stand up while lifting weights over your head.

Easier version
: Do the overhead shoulder press without the squat, which will work your upper body.

Chin-ups
This is a fun exercise for the entire family and great for building upper body strength. "We have a chin-up bar in our hallway, and every time someone goes by, they do a few," says McMillan. Chin-up bars are available for approximately $20 at fitness and department stores.

A: Hold the bar with palms facing you. Let your body hang down, then simply pull yourself up until your chin is above the bar.

Easier version:
Not strong enough to do a traditional chin-up? With a chair, use your legs to assist you to the top of the chin-up motion. Then lower your body down as slowly and with as much control as possible, without using the chair. These "negative" chin-ups will help you build muscle and endurance so you can eventually upgrade to a full chin-up.

Relax and unwind
Have you ever noticed how much older you look when you're feeling stressed? Worry and chronic stress rob us of our youthful energy and vitality, says Dr. David Posen, a stress expert in Oakville, Ont., and author of The Little Book of Stress Relief (Key Porter, 2003).

In fact, stress can actually shorten your life span. One small but significant study found that telomeres (protective caps at the ends of chromosomes that shorten as you age) shorten prematurely in people who experience chronic psychological stress – in effect, prematurely aging the cells.

Practising regular stress-reducing techniques such as deep breathing (see below) is one of the best ways to unwind. "If you're focused on being relaxed and feeling good physically, you'll make healthier choices, rather than feeling tired and reaching for caffeine or a chocolate doughnut," says Annabel Fitzsimmons, a yoga and Pilates instructor in Toronto. "You’ll sleep better, which will have a positive effect on your skin, the way you present yourself and your energy level. When you exude energy, you can't help but look and feel younger."

Page 4 of 5 – on the next page: Beauty tips to help you look younger!
Getting started:
Block off 20 minutes every day. Turn off your phone, Blackberry, etc. "Take this time to do something that makes you happy – something mindful, physical or soulful," says Fitzsimmons. Go for a walk, listen to music, take a bath, meditate, do a yoga or Pilates workout, or write in your journal.

Deep breathing
You can do this anywhere, anytime. Close your eyes, and breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. Feel your stomach rise as you inhale and fall as you exhale. Focus on observing your breathing. With each exhalation, release tension and worry.

Make IT Count

Interval training (IT) is the latest buzzword in fitness. By alternating fast and slow movements during a workout, you can burn nearly twice as many calories. What's more, incorporating interval training into regular workouts actually increases the body's fat-burning power by up to 36 per cent.

How it works: If you usually walk three kilometres in 30 minutes each day, increase the intensity of your walk (and burn more calories) by alternating short bursts of fast-paced walking with periods of walking at your regular speed. If you use a treadmill, stationary bike or other cardio machine, create intervals by increasing the speed or resistance of the machine periodically during your workout.

Beauty bailout: 6 simple beauty fixes to help you drop years

By Julia McEwen

1. Brighten up your tired eyes with a single stroke. Trace your lower lash line with either a white or flesh-toned eye pencil. It's like getting an extra few hours of sleep.

2. Over time we lose the fullness of our lips due to collagen deplteion. Say no to surgery and yes to plumping lip glosses and treatments. Tip: Adding a touch of shing gloss to the centre of your lips also gives the appearance of fullness.

3. A dull complexion and dark age spots can benefit from brighteners. Look for products with vitamin C and licorice root, which will help prevent cell damage and regulate your melanin production.

4. Over time we also lose definition in our faces – we can thank gravity for that! Give yourself a mini face-lift with the help of blushes and bronzers. Tip: Try blending a pinkish shade on the apples of your cheeks, just below the cheekbones.

5. Keep your foundation sheer and apply only where needed. Excess foundation can accentuate wrinkles. Tip: Try a tinted moisturizer.

6. A weekly regimen of cleansing, exfoliating and moisturizing is essential for turning back the clock. Each step helps prevent wrinkles and evens out skin tone, so make sure you're diligent with your routine.

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