Would you like to learn 12 ways you can become a super-ager?
Super-agers are people in their 70s or 80s who are physically, emotionally, and mentally fit. The super-ager has glowing, wrinkle-free skin and the memory capacity of someone 30 years younger.
In short, the super-ager underscores the expression “living longer and well.” It’s never too early to learn and practice their secrets, especially if you want to become a super-ager yourself.
While aging might be the last thing you think of when you're in your 20s, it can seem like you become 40 in the blink of an eye. Suddenly you’re thinking about chronic illness, stiff muscles, sagging skin, wrinkles, and the dreaded “turkey neck.”
Good skin care starts with a healthy lifestyle. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be on your way to becoming a super-ager yourself:
When a neurologist looks at the brain scan of an older, but still functioning adult, they will often see thinning areas; this is typical of the cell loss that happens with age, and it’s usually in areas where the brain controls emotion, language, and coordination.
The brain of a super-ager, however, stays thick all over. This was confirmed by a study from the Journal of Neuroscience which found the brain of a super-ager was preserved as well as, or better than, those of adults 30 years younger.
The super-ager will embrace a new mental challenge, even if it’s difficult, such as learning to play a musical instrument, says the Harvard Health Review of Harvard Medical School. The Harvard doctors also recommend regular aerobic exercise, meditation and other types of stress management, and getting plenty of sleep.
Researchers are also finding links between physical health and Alzheimer’s.
One in three adults in the U.S. are considered obese, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) while 50 million Americans lead a sedentary lifestyle, according to the American Psychological Association. This, along with diabetes, smoking, and untreated depression, can result in Alzheimer’s.
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, smoking is one of the top ways to speed up skin aging. If you don't want age prematurely - don't smoke!
Look no further than the wrinkles of upper lip to see the tell-tale wrinkles of a smoker.
Cigarettes decrease oxygen and circulation, which narrows all of the blood vessels in the body. Your body will also be flooded with free radicals, the rogue cells that cause oxidative stress that damage DNA, causing aging and illness.
Vo2 max is the maximum amount of oxygen that one can take in and, on average, people lose 10% of their capacity every decade after age 30, says Harvard Health.
Not so for the super-ager; an 80-year-old who exercise 20-45 minutes a day can have the vo2 max capacity of someone 30 years younger!
Exercise will also help you release endorphins: the all-natural feel-good substance our body rewards us with. Exercise will also help you manage weight, relieve stress, and sleep better, and it will keep your telomeres lengthened.
When Preventative Medicine examined the lifestyle habits of over 5800 people, they looked at their telomeres, little caps at the ends of chromosomes to keep them stable. Think of a telomere as the little piece of plastic at the end of a shoelace. They noticed that those who exercised regularly (like super-agers) had longer telomeres.
We’ve all heard about the “runner’s high.” That’s because of tiny molecules released during exercise that act as painkillers and pleasure enhancers. Because of endorphins we can keep going, even when injured or stressed.
The super-ager gets a good dose of endorphins when he or she exercises, and endorphins help to manage weight and relieve depression, anxiety, and stress.
Endorphins stabilize mood and promote better sleep. They allow people to enjoy better focus and energy and release other neurotransmitters, such as dopamine, melatonin and serotonin. All of which make us happier, more productive, less stressed, and able to sleep better.
Endorphins release the natural happy hormone oxytocin which lowers cortisol, the fight or flight hormone that wreaks havoc when out of balance (and cortisol can also trigger adrenaline, which makes us feel even more anxious).
It makes the super-ager more productive, because happy brains just work better. Psychology Today explains that when we focus on negative thoughts, chemicals are released that actually slow the brain, decreasing it’s ability to function.
While exercise is one way to increase endorphin levels, eating the right foods do also, and the super-ager pays attention to nutrition, especially since he or she knows that nutritional requirements change with age.
Avoid or limit as much as possible:
Do eat foods that increase endorphins and also act as “skin foods” with high contents of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients, such as:
These include carrots, cantaloupes, apricots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and kale. Beta-carotene is an invaluable antioxidant and carotenoid that is converted into vitamin A, a retinoid. Beta-carotene also protects from sun damage, says the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Beta-carotene protects us from both UVA and UVB sun rays. For years, the focus was only on UVB because that’s what causes sunburn; but it’s more and more understood that UVA might be even more dangerous, causing photodamage and possibly skin cancer.
Rich in amino acids which increase endorphins, sun flowers seeds (and some other nuts and seeds) contain copper, which helps build collagen and fights wrinkles. It also has a lot of B vitamins, considered to be some of the best skin vitamins, and minerals such as magnesium, often referred to as the “miracle mineral” for skin.
Getting enough healthy fat is one of the biggest ways to increase endorphins. When it comes to healthy fats, avocado is the star, with plenty of vitamin E (another natural antioxidant) and B vitamins (especially biotin).
Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring, are great for skin, and they also increase endorphins. They are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids because they also contain vitamin E, they protect skin from free radical damage and inflammation. The protein helps build collagen and improve elasticity to keep skin from sagging.
The brain is made up of cells and those cells are comprised of fat. The super-ager gets plenty of healthy fats, especially omega-3s, which have a big impact on brain function and memory. It’s already in brain cells, but low levels can speed up brain aging and slow development.
Omega-3 EFAs also lessen depression, which is something an endorphin also does.
Essential fatty acids are also crucial to skin care, helping skin hydrate, heal, and repair, says the Linus Pauling Institute. They also have anti-inflammatory properties that can aid acne and psoriasis.
An article in Psychology Today explains how stress contributes to cellular aging. Things like social isolation or untreated depression make cells unable to divide, so the worn-out ones don’t get replaced as quickly as they should, or not at all.
Interestingly, stressed individuals also have shortened telomeres which have been associated with early mortality and chronic illness!
Sleep gives the cells a chance to repair, and sleep deprivation has even been blamed for some horrific accidents, like train derailments. It is such a problem that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has declared sleep disorders a public epidemic.
Insufficient sleep affects many behavioral habits; you’ll be so tired, you might reach for high-fat, sugary, salty convenience foods or drink excessive coffee to stay awake. You might be too tired to exercise, solve puzzles or do anything but sit in front of the television.
Start while you’re young and do things such as:
We tend to think of this mineral mainly for bone health, but calcium regulates many skin functions, including cell turnover and sebum production. It provides firmness and structure, your skin will look dry and thin without it.
Almost 99% of our bodies are made up of six elements, and calcium is one of them. Calcium regulates blood pressure, protects the heart, stabilizes hormonal levels, and helps to lower the risk of acquiring some chronic illnesses.
Our nutritional requirements change as we age, however, and we absorb less calcium as we age - but our bodies will continue to take it as needed, and that’s usually from our bones.
To build calcium eat plenty of calcium-rich foods, which includes dairy and vegetables like broccoli and kale. Weight-lifting is another great way to increase calcium. Take in a little sunshine every day to get vitamin D. And if need be, take calcium supplements.
Smokers have those tell-tale lines around their mouths because of the constant pursing of lips when dragging on a cigarette. These are called expression lines.
When you repeatedly frown, squint, pout, or make any facial expression on a regular basis, those muscles will contract and that will lead to skin wrinkles.
Every time our face makes an expression, a groove is formed under the skin, according to The Mayo Clinic. When we’re young, skin just springs back so it’s not a problem, but when we age, skin becomes less flexible and that’s when the wrinkles appear.
At least sunglasses help to prevent the specific wrinkles that relate to squinting, says the American Academy of Dermatology.
These are the people who will always support you, the ones you can always go to if you need to talk - close friends you can laugh and cry with!
Health experts say loneliness can be just as harmful to your health as being overweight. We’re not talking about living alone; that’s solitude. We’re talking about the feeling of loneliness. When you’re lonely, you become stressed.
Your body thinks it’s in danger, so cortisol, that fight or flight hormone is activated. When in balance and in moderate amounts, cortisol is fine. When it’s out of balance you become jumpy, anxious, and sleep-deprived, which can trigger neurotransmitters like adrenaline, which make you jumpier and more stressed!
Cortisol can also increase inflammation, as well as blood pressure. If you’re lonely, you might also do things like watch excessive television, which could lead you to become sedentary, eat poorly, and drink to excess.
Wash your face twice a day, no matter what. And never go to bed with makeup on, because it will irritate your skin and possibly lead to an infection.
We all were born with a protective skin barrier. It’s on the outer layer and the skin barrier immune cells keep moisture in, and harmful things out. When it’s damaged, it doesn’t operate properly, and we become dry and flaky, or red and inflamed.
We should wash our faces twice a day (and no more) with a gentle cleanser, preferably a gentle, botanical formulation or a single, pure plant oil.
The morning wash is just as important because pillowcases harbor bacteria and your hair will touch your face during sleep and transfer the residue of your hair products to your face.
If your skin gets oily mid-day, blot your face with absorbent paper to remove much of the oil and shine, and mist your face with a hydrosol, which is distilled water and a helpful plant extract such as rose, cucumber, or lavender.
Moisturize, because even oily skin needs hydration. In fact, if you scrub too often or use harsh cleansers, your sebaceous glands will overcompensate by producing too much sebum.
It’s not just sunburn, although that’s bad enough, but sun has also been shown to increase the risk of cataracts.
Sun damages the protective skin barrier, which slows cell turnover so skin has a lot of dead cells and clogged pores. UV damaged skin becomes dull, sagging and wrinkled, because the collagen and elasticity are damaged.
This is one final extra tip on becoming a super-ager who can defy aging: use a hand cream! Taking care of skin means ALL skin, especially on the hands. Skin there is delicate and it’s one of the first places on the body to show age. Also exfoliate and apply a vitamin A cream when necessary so your hands can avoid that dry, spotted, wrinkled, “crepe-y” look. Don't forget the sunscreen - you need to take care of the hands just as you do your face!