Naturopathic Anti-Ageing Tips
Another year just passed, & none of us are getting any younger (did last year feel like 3 to anyone else)??!! Anyway - here are some of my best naturopathic tips on how to slow down ageing! (Sorry guys, it’s kinda aimed at the girls here, but all of the tips apply to you too, except the bits on bikinis & menopause!)
How To Slow Down Ageing Naturally For Women (& Men)!
Prioritising Good Sleep: So obvious but so not practiced (myself included!) Hard in these days of artificial lighting & devices, but you have to work on getting enough, because this is the time our body is literally healing itself & regenerating, that is what sleep is largely for! Figure out what you think is enough / what you generally ‘feel good’ on, then add another 1hr & aim for that - every night. Most of us underestimate what we need & overestimate what we’re actually getting! You know what you look & feel like after a really poor sleep night, right? You don’t wanna have the ‘poor sleep life’ look going on! Not to mention the brain / mood / hormonal / mental health impacts!
Hint - if you struggle with sleeping sometimes, don’t, whatever you do, lie there stressing about it! Instead of tossing & turning, worrying about the sleep you’re missing, & the dire health consequences (making it even less likely you’ll drop off), just be happy you have some extra bonus time to meditate (it will allow you to still rest & cleanse & heal, & is almost as restorative as actual sleep - which may even come easier when you stop stressing)! You’ll be much calmer in the morning anyway! There are many things you can change to get better sleep - seriously address it if you want to age well!
Hydration: Without good hydration, you will lose your elasticity & bounce, your ‘youthful juiciness’ (& your basic functionality as a living organism, just ask my pot plants of late!) Moisture loss can easily be seen by looking at your skin, but it’s also happening in your ‘interstitial fluid’, lymphatic system & fascia (which is what all our cells float in / are held together & supported by). This is what gives us our shape / structure / organization. Nothing in our body feels good, works properly or looks its best when we are all dried up & stuck together! We also cannot get nutrients & oxygen to cells or expel toxins & metabolic waste products as easily when our interstitial fluid & lymphatic system is all sludgy from being dehydrated.
Drinking lots of clean filtered water = great to help nourish us, flush us out & plump us up. Much needed for keeping the ‘scaffolding’ that holds all our water in the right places healthy (it also thrives on exercise & - believe it or not - getting regular sun exposure). Getting sunshine (ideally exercise in the sun) actually helps the hydration get into all those dried up internal spaces as it liquefies our sludgy dried-up stuck together bits, allowing them to soak up some fluid.
Sun: We look more vibrant & energized with a healthy glow - take note of folks who’ve just been on a beach holiday! We do not want to burn, this will damage your skin & lead to premature ageing / increased cancer risk, but just that healthy glow from gradual & regular sun exposure is super healthy for our body. Lying in the sun or getting outside in nature = great for stress reduction, decreased inflammation, improved metabolism, better circulation, lymphatic health, detoxification, balanced hormones…sunshine = one of the most potent & free health supplements! (Unless you have to go on a holiday to get it - if you do, book one regularly)!
Stress management: Stress wears us down & ages us rapidly, causes or worsens every form of ill health, & is an unfortunate reality of living on planet earth with other humans & our messes! We must have strategies in place to minimize & manage it, or it will literally kill us. Daily self care routines, meditation, a regular massage booking, breath work, yoga, exercise, nature walks, counseling, laughter, dancing, connection….figure out what helps keep you calm & sane, then do it as often as you can (actually schedule it into your life, create stress management habits - or you will not prioritize it)!
Posture: Posture plays a huge role in our appearance, mood, mental state & general health. We’re told from a young age to ‘stand up straight’ & ‘don’t slouch’, but more useful / specific postural advice would be - engage your glutes, your lower abdominals & your thoracic spine area (mid to upper back), while keeping your pelvis over your knees & knees over your ankles, feet pointing straight ahead. You can see someone who specializes in movement & posture - practitioners of Feldenkrais method, myofascial release, structural integration, rolfing, biomechanics, osteopathy etc can really help you with posture. Pilates, dance, martial arts etc are great exercises to develop postural awareness & improvement. You don’t need to become a ‘bent over old person’ (& if you already are, it’s never too late, you’ll benefit most but you’ll need a skilled coach & it may take a while!)
Movement / walking properly: We think about going to the gym to sculpt our body, but also the way that we perform small movements all day long has a massive impact on our shape. If you feel like your abs are becoming flabby & your butt is starting to flatten / slide down the back of your legs a bit - train yourself to ‘push off' with each step using your activated glutes, & to hold in your lower abs. This will mean you are doing an ‘abs & butt toning workout’ literally every time you walk anywhere (& it is how we are supposed to walk, we just get lazy / out of balance & use the wrong muscles!) This helps so many folks with lower back pain also. Look up ‘gait cycle training’ to see how you should be walking & to keep in shape / decrease pain. There are training systems based around this - I can highly recommend 'Functional Patterns' from experience.
Tone / muscle / metabolism: The more muscle you have, the better you’ll be at burning fat, & the less tendency you’ll have to accumulate excess fat. If you feel flabby, don’t try desperately to ‘lose fat’ just focus on steadily gaining muscle (the fat will take care of itself in a much more sustainable way then). Loss of muscle & strength (sarcopenia) is a nasty side effect of ageing that we need to be actively working to slow down / prevent in order to maintain a youthful appearance (& our health). Healthy muscle mass literally keeps you younger & healthier (& able to do everything in life more easily!) Exercise, sleep, stress management, protein, collagen & vit c rich foods, regular sun exposure all help us maintain healthy metabolism & muscle tone.
Inflammation: ‘Inflamm-ageing’ is a term used frequently in health circles these days, & it’s true - inflammation ages us. So - minimise inflammatory ‘inputs’ in your life - ie stress, chemicals, reactive foods (gluten, dairy, refined carbs & sugar, processed food, vegetable oils, grain fed meats, chemical additives) & try to include as many anti-inflammatory foods as you can (organic where possible fruit, veggies, herbs, quality grass fed meats, wild caught / not farmed seafood - esp salmon, sardines & mackerel; soaked nuts, seeds & GF wholegrains & legumes if tolerated). Use chemical free & organic food & body / home care products wherever possible (chemicals = inflammation & increased toxic load for your body to deal with).
Skincare: Our skin is the only organ we can easily see, feel & observe changes in, & it’s a great ‘window’ to the rest of our health. In general, things that are ‘good for our skin’ are gonna be great for the internal organs as well. Naturopathic skin ‘go-to list includes: zinc & vitamin A supplementation or eat oysters / liver / organ meats (extremely common deficiencies, gotta fix this to fix skin issues); vitamin C rich foods ( fresh fruit & veg); collagen (bone broth, stews with bony collagenous bits, supplements); aloe vera; regular controlled doses of sun; good fats & oils (eat them & apply directly); green clay (use as a mask to draw out heat, congestion, acne etc), use the white & pink if you need a more gentle action.
Circulation: Mediterranean diet, daily exercise, plenty of water, raw cacao & general polyphenol rich diet for healthy blood vessels, regular sauna, cold showers, ice baths, massage, acupuncture, sun exposure….a toned cardiovascular system & unrestricted blood flow to our skin & organs keeps us nourished, cleansed & oxygenated (all much needed to look & feel our best). Maintaining healthy circulation = one of the keys to healthy ageing.
Hormones: This is where we 40+ females really get let down, the perimenopause hormonal roller-coaster can throw everything out of whack! Too big / complex of a topic to cover here, but see a practitioner regularly to help with this life transition that can impact all of the above, leaving us feeling…less young & beautiful all of a sudden! When you are run down & stressed qoing into perimenopause, the ride will generally be much rougher! Self care = super important here, starting in the late 30’s or earlier! Here’s a couple of blogs with more detail on our fabulous female hormones:
Menopausal Weight Gain: What's Happening & How To Avoid It
Naturopathic Support For Menopausal Vaginal Dryness
Bloating / gut: If you can’t reliably zip up your dress / feel good in a bikini due to bloating, your gut could use some TLC. Bloating is normally an indication that the ‘flow’ of food-on-the-way-to-becoming-poo is not as smooth as it should be. This can be from food intolerances, nervous system / stress impacting your gut motility, not enough fluid and / or fibre to create the right consistency, not enough exercise to facilitate tone & flow, sitting for long stretches, or even physical obstructions (scar tissue, twists & turns, other out-of-whack abdominal organs). If you feel your issue could be structural, look into 'visceral manipulation' (some osteopaths / myofascial release practitioners / other bodyworkers are trained in this).
Blend11, Greens + Aloe, Terra Flora all get fantastic feedback on bloating (especially when used together), but if these don’t do the trick you can go down the dietary adjustment path (for bloating I would be trying Low FODMAP, gluten free, dairy free, alcohol & sugar free, but best to work with a practitioner or you can waste a lot of time / suffer restricted diets when it’s not necessary)! And if you're suffering frequently & need a 'first aid' approach, try a double strength peppermint tea (with some fresh ginger if you like). This can quickly 'deflate' / move trapped gas up or down!
Qi / Energy / Vitality: Modalities like Yoga, acupuncture, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, reiki, breath work etc can all boost & help with healthy energy flow through our bodies. We tend to drain our life energy with poor food & lifestyle choices, or it can become unbalanced, or blocked (which results in poor health & accelerated ageing). Best to work with a practitioner if you’re needing help with something specific, but for general health & ageing support, schedule a weekly session / join a class to support the flow through your body.
Smile / gratitude: Our inner beauty radiates outwards when we smile & laugh, spreading contagious happiness & feel good chemicals to those around us! Starting a gratitude practice is an awesome way to start smiling more often, you can start by just listing 3 things you’re grateful for in your life (ie your heart that keeps your blood flowing by beating all day every day, your comfy bed that allows you to rest, your eyes that allow you to see etc etc etc). You can even try a ‘gratitude alphabet’ as you’re falling asleep.
A - age because with it comes wisdom (& what’s your alternative?)
B - beautiful people in my life
C - cat that lets me cuddle it sometimes
Etc etc - even if you’re feeling old & broken & sick & un-beautiful & grumpy in a moment, a practice like this can help snap you out of it! There is always plenty to feel grateful for, just gotta take some time to place more focus there!
Easy homemade naturopathic skin care treats to try:
- add vegetable glycerine to your moisturiser / dry ends of hair / dry elbows / heels / feet etc (I’ll always remember a beautiful elderly woman who came in to the health store I worked in looking for it, we asked her what she wanted it for & she swore by it for skin / wrinkles - she looked absolutely amazing for her age & I’ve used it off & on ever since!)
It is SO cheap & it’s the main ingredient in many really expensive skin products! Your health shop or chemist should have it, definitely worth the $6 or so investment for a year or more supply!
- fresh aloe vera gel on your skin & hair after a shower / before bed (mix in some glycerine & good oils like hemp, almond, rosehip, jojoba, apricot kernel or coconut in the winter or for for dry skin, lips & hair, add some lavender oil if you’re sunburnt)
- you can make a nourishing & softening clay mask by mixing Greens + Aloe into some moist green clay / your existing face mask
**remember - some skin care products can do wonders / really support your skin, but over the long term, it’s more about what goes into your body & how you move it than what you slap on the outside! The outside treatments can only do so much if you are not taking care of the inside as well!
Hope this helps you look & feel somewhat younger by January 2024! XX