September is Healthy Aging Month!
September is the month we can take the time to learn new tips and tricks on how to age with grace and health in mind. Below are 6 tips to make you feel and look your youngest.
Getting enough water into your system is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Most of us do not get enough water and suffer from dehydration every day. When we do not have enough water in our system, our cells are not plump, our blood does not flow as easily, and every organ system does not operate at its best. There are short- and long-term side effects of dehydration.
There is a wide range of recommendations for the amount of water that needs to be consumed daily. The amount you need depends on your age, weight, medications, conditions, exercise frequency, and exercise intensity; but a general guideline is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water. If you are 150 lbs., drink approximately 75 ounces of water per day. If you are 230 lbs., 115 ounces of water per day. For a more specific recommendation, talk to a health coach, nutritionist, or physician and check out our article on How Much Water Do You Really Need.
Struggling with drinking enough water? Here are strategies to help fit more water into your routine.
- Flavor your water with fruits like lemon, lime, orange, or strawberries.
- Get a large water bottle and mark times on the side that you need to be done with that portion of water.
- Eat more melons with high water content.
- Start by adding 10-15 ounces of water to your daily routine for a few days at a time. Starting slow will make it easier to reach a goal if you are far off from the recommended amount of water.
- Start your day with 20 ounces of water before eating breakfast or drinking your choice of caffeinated beverage.
Skin is the largest organ in the human body. It is the barrier between your internal organs and the outside world. Exposure to the outside elements can determine how moisturized and youthful your skin is. Heat, humidity, and pollution interact with skin and can dry or damage it. When skin becomes dry, it allows wrinkles to be more pronounced because the skin cells are no longer plump. Dry skin can lead to discomfort, cracking in the skin, infection if a crack is exposed to bacteria, and inflammation (https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/moisturizers-do-they-work). To protect the skin and the moisture content in the cells, a consistent moisturizing routine is important. Moisturizer acts as a barrier to damaging conditions.
For anyone who wears make-up regularly, moisturizing is especially important. Washing make-up off usually also means stripping the natural oils off your skin, depending on the type of face wash you use. That natural moisture needs to be replaced to prevent dryness or overproduction of oil to compensate.
An expensive moisturizer is unnecessary. Look at the ingredients in the moisturizer of your choice. The longer the list of ingredients in the product, the less desirable. Look out for drying ingredients like alcohol, which are used in some moisturizers so that it will “absorb” and not sit on top of the skin.
Key ingredients to look for in your moisturizer are:
- Hyaluronic acid - Restores your skin’s ability to retain moisture and look soft.
- Glycerin - Draws water into the top layer of the skin.
- Shea butter - An emollient that fills in the cracks of your skin and protects the moisture content. Also, can be anti-inflammatory for skin. You may want to avoid shea butter if you are struggling with acne because it can clog pores.
- Petrolatum - Prevents water from evaporating from the skin and creates a protective barrier.
Green foods are chock full of nutrients that keep us young and vibrant. Antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals needed to be at our best are found in high quantities in vegetables. Potassium, which helps keep your blood pressure low, is found in broccoli. Spinach is full of magnesium and iron, both of which are necessary for bone health. Brussel sprouts have vitamin C, which helps maintain a healthy immune system. Without enough greens in your diet, the systems that operate in your body will not be functioning at full capacity and will make you look and feel older.
The Center for Disease Control recommends that we eat 2-3 cups of vegetables every day. On average, only 9% of Americans get the recommended amount of vegetables in their diet. As you get older, the need for the valuable nutrients in vegetables only increases. To make sure you have enough vegetables in your diet, it is important to include them at every meal. For example, spinach with your eggs in the morning, a salad with all the fixings for lunch, and roasted broccoli with chicken for dinner. By spreading out your consumption of healthy greens across the entire day, it is easier to reach the goal of 2-3 cups.
Omega-3s support aspects of our bodies that deteriorate when aging, brain health and memory, skin and cell renewal, bone density and strength, as well as heart health and respiratory health. Ensuring you have enough healthy fats in your diet, or in supplement form based on your specific needs, will help support a youthful vibrance and glow.
Fish are the most well-known source of omega-3s. As algae blooms and mercury contamination are on the rise, it may be better to look to other sources. Here are some sources of omega-3s that are not fish:
- Flax seeds
- Chia seeds
- Grass-fed meat
- Brussel sprouts
Whichever way works best for you, get plenty of omega-3s into your diet for a long, healthy life.
We all know what we look like after getting less than the amount of sleep we need: dark circles under the eyes, dull skin, red eyes, and a slow and tired demeanor. These days show how important it is to get adequate sleep. Over time, hours of sleep lost turn into bigger effects than just needing an extra cup of coffee that day. “While we are sleeping, our bodies are repairing, detoxifying and our hormones are being balanced”. Without these processes occurring, we accumulate toxins in our bodies and have cells that go unrepaired. This can affect our gut health, skin, blood pressure, etc.
The recommendation for sleep is 6-8 hours, however, this depends widely on your individual needs. If you are consistently getting 6 hours of sleep, but feel amazing when you wake up, then that is the right amount of sleep for you. If you are getting 8 hours of sleep and waking up groggy and sluggish, you may need more or less sleep. Determine your needs based on how you are feeling.
If you are struggling with sleep, there may be several reasons for that. Sleep disorders are rampant in our country due to stress, anxiety, medications, and bad habits. Of course, pets and children can interrupt sleep as well. While we don’t have recommendations for your child or dog-parenting, we do have a few tips and tricks for sleeping better.
- Hydrate properly during the day, but stop drinking liquids about an hour prior to bed. Your body will wake you up if you are getting dehydrated or need to use the restroom in the middle of the night.
- Try out progressive relaxation or meditation if you are having trouble falling asleep. YouTube is a great resource for meditation videos or videos that instruct you through progressive relaxation.
- Sleep in a cool and dark room.
- Write all the thoughts that are racing through your head prior to going to bed to decrease restlessness.
- For more tips, check out Sleep Tips or All About Sleep Hygiene
Exercise is an integral part of health and wellness and an amazing anti-aging tool. Exercise supports heart health, builds muscle, increases cardiorespiratory fitness, and aids in decreasing unhealthy fat. The CDC recommends that every adult get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week. There are many options to choose from in the exercise realm, but we recommend doing the exercise that brings you joy! The more you actually enjoy the exercise, the more consistent you will be with it. Brisk walking counts as a moderate intensity exercise and completing 30 minutes a day of it will provide you with adequate exercise. If you can do more exercise, then you will get even more of a health benefit. Make sure you do not overdo it for your current fitness level. We all know that person who doesn’t train for a marathon and then goes out to run it and can barely move for the next week after it. Working up to an exercise routine that works for you is the best bet.
With these tips, we hope you take steps toward healthy aging and a happy life!