I think it’s safe to say that most of us would like to “age gracefully,” even though that means something different for everyone. For some, the idea of aging gracefully means graciously accepting wrinkles, skin spots, joint issues, or other traditional markers of age as they come, while others view it as a directive to do what they can to naturally stave off those signs of aging as long as possible.
We are all getting older with each passing day, and some visible signs of aging are inevitable. But whether you choose take those signs in stride or fight them with every cream, lotion, or supplement at your disposal, one thing is true: At the very least, we should be doing everything we can to not speed up the aging process.
Here are some very common ways you may be doing just that—along with natural ways you can avoid these pitfalls.
- Not getting enough sleep
It’s no secret that not getting enough sleep can make you look older. After all, just one night of poor sleep can drastically change your appearance in the mirror the following morning. That’s because sleep is extremely restorative to all systems and areas of the body, including the skin. So if you can manage to increase the length and quality of your nightly snoozing, you may likely start noticing an improvement in your complexion—and be able to stave off those lines and wrinkles even longer.
- Avoiding (healthy) fats
By now, you should know that fat doesn’t make you fat (that distinction belongs to sugar and processed carbs), particularly if you’re consuming the right kind of fat. Healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids provide many benefits, including increased cognitive function, weight loss, and improved skin health. So avoiding them can be counterproductive when it comes to aging. In fact, a low-fat diet can contribute to dry skin, sagging, and wrinkles.
Many skincare experts will tell you that starving your body—and, therefore, your skin—of fat is one of the quickest ways to lose that youthful glow. Meanwhile, foods like salmon, walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds are great sources of healthy fat and are known for reducing inflammation and improving the appearance and health of the skin. Coconut oil is another beneficial fat source to add to your diet and to also use topically to promote a youthful complexion.
- Eating too many processed foods
What you fuel your body with on the inside can really affect how you look on the outside. Thus, a diet of fake, processed foods can make you look haggard and older, while a diet focused on whole, anti-inflammatory foods is known for giving people that highly coveted, glowing complexion. A diet high in antioxidant foods like berries and leafy greens can also slow down the aging process and help to prevent or decrease damage to the body’s cells—including skin cells.
So if you’re looking to adopt an anti-aging diet, focus on plants, with moderate amounts of high-quality meat and seafood—i.e. organic, free-range, wild-caught, and grass-fed options.
- Not consuming enough bone broth
Bone broth is all the rage these days, but this ancient healing elixir isn’t some passing fad. Nor is it something you should turn to only when you have a stuffy nose.
Because bone broth is loaded with collagen, which is the main structural protein found in the skin, it is one of the absolute best things you can consume to maintain a more youthful appearance. As we age, collagen production naturally decreases, but adding bone broth to your diet on a regular basis is a top way to increase collagen levels. That collagen then helps form elastin and other compounds within the skin that are responsible for maintaining youthful tone, texture, and overall appearance.
And if you don’t have time to make homemade bone broth, you can also find bone both protein powders that make daily bone broth consumption quick and easy.
- Failing to minimize stress
Stress, especially chronic stress, is a top health destroyer that is known to accelerate the aging process. The more stressed out you are, the more your body produces the stress hormone known as cortisol. And the higher your cortisol levels are, the worse your overall health is. When it comes to your skin, specifically, elevated cortisol causes the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which increases the likelihood of wrinkles as well as the severity of the fine lines and wrinkles you already have.
- Not exercising
Not being physically active is not good for any aspect of your health, and it can definitely accelerate the internal and external aging process. When you exercise regularly, you reduce your cortisol levels while improving your blood circulation, which is great news for skin health. Exercise also boosts energy and mood levels which can both contribute to a happier, more youthful appearance. And while exercise gives you energy during the day, it can also help you sleep better at night.
- Using the wrong beauty products
There are so many cosmetics on the market today that claim to reduce wrinkles, but these products are often loaded with hazardous ingredients like synthetic scents, parabens, and other scary chemical preservatives. Thankfully, there are now a lot of natural and highly effective beauty products that can help to encourage a more youthful appearance without any threat to your health.
Making your own beauty products at home is also a great way to take control of what goes onto your skin. There’s also the fact that homemade recipes can take advantage of potent anti-aging essential oils like lavender, which can positively affect the skin and discourage signs of aging at a cellular level.
- You have too much sugar in your diet
Sugar is in everything these days, so it’s easy to get to eat too much—whether intentionally or accidentally. And while natural foods like fruit and honey contain sugar but are healthy in moderation, there are many processed foods that contain sugar in unexpectedly high amounts. It’s really key to read labels and be aware of your daily sugar consumption—not only because of health concerns like diabetes but also for the sake of your personal aging process. Sugar is known for increasing inflammation in the body, and the more inflammation in the body, the more likely someone is to struggle with arthritis, wrinkles, and other tell-tale signs of aging.
- Not consuming enough biotin
Biotin, or vitamin B7, is a water-soluble vitamin that helps us to keep a youthful appearance and plays a major part in maintaining the health of our skin, hair, and nails. Not getting enough biotin can result in dry, irritated skin as well as brittle hair. Some of the best food sources of biotin to include in your diet regularly include eggs, salmon, organic goat cheese, avocado, cauliflower, and raspberries.
- Not taking a probiotic
Your skin and digestive system alone are said to host around 2,000 different types of bacteria. The benefits of probiotics have been proven to include immune and digestive system support and digestive system, as well as improved skin health. In fact, not having enough probiotics or good bacteria in your body can cause skin issues like redness, rashes, and acne. There are a lot of probiotic-rich foods you can include in your diet, like kefir, kombucha, and fermented vegetables, but a high-quality probiotic supplement can easily ensure that your skin (and your entire body) are getting a boost of good bacteria every single day.