Young at Heart

There's no elixir for everlasting youth. But, we can ward off the years by living a holistic and vibrant life

Smiling ladyYou look at yourself in the mirror and spot your first grey hair, or wrinkle, on your face. Instead of hitting the panic button and rushing in for hormonal therapies and Botox shots to reverse aging, and risking serious side-effects, you could try to make simple changes in your lifestyle and diet to control aging naturally.

Why do we age?

Aging is an inevitable process. Scientific studies prove that on an average our bodies are at our youthful peak at 25 with signs of aging surfacing at 30. However, we all age differently. Genetic make-up, gender, ethnicity, environmental influences, levels of sun exposure and lifestyle choices like smoking, drinking and nutrition are factors that pre-determine aging. It's not possible to halt aging, but it is possible to slow down the process.

Controlling aging

The process of controlling aging should start right from the time when aging doesn't even begin to show on you. Retaining youthfulness should, in fact, start right after puberty. It may be difficult to restore youth after the ravages of aging have prominently set in. Prevention is always better than cure.

It's also best to maintain beauty through natural means and not experiment with too many therapies, especially chemicals. Managing aging well may not just make you look youthful, but it will keep you fit and healthy - in other words, it increases longevity.

Exercise right

Regular exercise will help to keep you in shape, improve energy levels, joints mobile, improve posture, strengthen muscles and increase blood circulation making the skin look healthier. Exercise also helps to feed the brain with more oxygen, enabling you to stay alert as you grow older. It is necessary to choose the exercise which suits you after consulting a doctor. Also - when you are old, it's better to do an exercise of moderate intensity like walking, jogging, yoga, swimming, or golf, which doesn't get you out of breath and too sweaty.

Eat right

A healthy diet should have the correct proportion of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals to provide the body the requisite energy and all the nutrients it needs for growth and repair. As we grow older we need fewer calories to sustain us. Nevertheless, we still need as many vitamins and minerals as we've always had. Sometimes nutritional supplements may help - vitamin A helps to remove age spots. Biotin, choline and folic acid may prevent the greying of hair. Vitamin C can arrest wrinkles. Most important - drink at least 8-10 glasses of water a day to prevent the skin from looking dull and dry, and to flush out toxins from the body, prevent constipation and keep your bowels healthy. Also, quit smoking and drinking.

Health check-ups

Visit your doctor regularly to check for symptoms of old age-related ailments like heart and circulatory diseases, diabetes, back pain, arthritis, osteoporosis and cancer. Being in the pink of health will make you look your youthful best.

Skin care

The outer covering and the largest organ of the body, the skin, is the very first organ to show signs of aging. The skin loses elasticity, gets thinner and dries up as we grow old. Sun exposure, smoking, alcohol, stress, deficient sleep, illness, pollution and chemicals in diet increase wrinkles. Overuse of soap, excessive steaming and bleaching may further dry up the skin. Face massages with essential oils, acupressure and facial exercises may help to prevent wrinkles.

Hair care

Hard water, harsh chemicals, excessive shampooing, driers and rollers may hasten the greying of hair. Using Indian gooseberry, curry leaves, fenugreek seeds and coconut milk will naturally darken your mane. Scalp massages with rosemary oil in a base of almond, olive or jojoba oil, increases blood circulation bringing nutrients and oxygen to hair follicles. Lavender or thyme oil may stimulate hair growth. A diet rich in minerals and vitamins may also help prevent hair loss.

Nail care

Brittle nails are caused by hard water or a deficiency of vitamins and minerals. White spots on nails suggest zinc or vitamin B deficiency. Lack of iron in diet causes pale, flat, thin and dry nails. For healthy and strong nails eat a diet rich in sulphur, iron, zinc, calcium and vitamins. Wear rubber gloves while cleaning, or washing. Do hand and finger exercises regularly.

Dental care

Common dental problems affecting senior citizens include tooth decay, gum disease, fracture and thinning of the enamel. Avoid extraction of natural teeth unless absolutely necessary as they help to anchor your artificial teeth.

Take vitamin D supplements to help absorb calcium and keep your teeth healthy. Adhere to good oral hygiene by regular brushing, flossing, and gum massages.

Eye care

Rest is the best way to prevent strained or tired eyes. When your eyes get weary, close your eyes and press on your eyelids, very gently, with your palms. While reading, choose a relaxing place with soft light. Go for regular eye check-ups for sight problems, macular degeneration, glaucoma and cataracts.

Being young at heart

The best part. Society may categorise your years numerically, and put you into an age zone which may term you as aged. But, real age, for you, is in your mind.

If you think young, you'll look young. If you have a happy and peaceful mind, the lines of stress won't show on you - this makes you look much younger.

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