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10 ways to look younger, naturally

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While age might contribute wisdom—few warm up to sagging skin and wrinkles with open arms. Beauty magazines try to convince us that younger looking skin is possible by going under the knife or by purchasing anti-wrinkle creams. However, simple lifestyle changes and natural remedies can produce results more visible and long lasting. Here’s how:

1. Why Drinking is good for you

Drinking eight to 10 glasses of water a day can do wonders for your body. We are all 65 percent water and the more we replenish our water reservoir, the more we flush toxins out, the more our body responds to exercise, and the more firm our skin cells become—allowing us to look years younger.

According to nutritionist and CamelBak hydration counselor Kate Geagan, drinking water before meals can allow us to eat in moderation cause we are less likely to confuse thirst with hunger. Drinking water also boosts the body’s metabolism, kicking fatigue in the butt.

2. Burn a sweat to look swell

Studies conducted at McMaster University in Ontario by sports medicine physician Mark Tarnopolsky show that the human skin begins to demonstrate signs of age reversing with regular exercise. This study included older subjects that took to exercise at a late stage in life.

Exercise also helps lengthen telomeres, the protective sheath around the chromosomes in cells of the body, which help regulate their ageing. According to Dean Michael Ornish, founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, a well-exercised individual leads a longer life, with fewer diseases along the way.

3. Your skin demands attention to get attention

Many skin care experts recommend frequent exfoliating of the skin, which we often confuse with using a better face wash. Exfoliating is a deep cleaning of the skin surface to remove layers of dead cells that accumulate and is recommended at least 2 to 3 times a week. This process allows new skin cells to grow and lends freshness to our face.

Exfoliation involves washing the face with hot water, then cleansing with a mild face wash, using an exfoliating scrub prepared at home or purchased from the market, gently massaging the face with fingers in a circular motion, following up with cleaning the face with cold water to close pores that were opened up during this process, and finally applying a moisturizer that matches your skin type.

Pollution, dirt, and oils not visible to the naked eye easily block skin pores causing the skin to breakout, get acne, look dry, and wrinkled. Exfoliating acts like a natural remedy keeping most of these irritations at bay and allow a smoother tone to emerge. Skin pores that carry hair follicles increase in size when they are choked. When clean, they decrease in size and allow the skin to breathe easy.

4. Moisturize to show your skin some love

Every time you exfoliate your skin or take a hot water bath, your skin loses moisture and essential oils. Moisturizing your skin is therefore a healthy habit that allows your skin to never become too oily or too dry. Both extremes can cause the skin to get blemishes or sag.

Massaging your skin while applying moisturizing creams helps improve blood circulation. Vitamins such as A, B5, E, and C give the skin a compact exterior and help protect new skin cells. Parts of the skin that are more prone to damage need extra moisture to rejuvenate. No matter what your skin type, moisture is something your skin will demand in varying amounts.

5. Sugar won’t make your skin look sweet

Refined sugar, sodas, white bread, and canned juices are all high-glycemic foods that convert to sugar instantly upon entering the body. Insulin is a hormone that helps break down glucose into usable energy in the body. According to dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, high-glycemic foods cause insulin levels in the body to shoot up instantly, causing inflammation all over the body.

Inflammation causes collagen and elastin present in the skin to rupture, which makes the skin look wrinkled and baggy. Digested sugar also permanently attaches to collagen, which in turn accelerates ageing, causes acne and flare-ups. Excessive intake of sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which can in severe cases cause hair growth in unexpected places such as unwanted facial hair in women and skin discoloration.

6. Not all fats are bad. Some are essential.

Saturated fats should be your enemy, not poly-saturated fats that your body needs but cannot synthesize. Called Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) for good reason, omega-3s and omega-6s enhance the skin’s cosmetic appeal. Studies have shown that Omega-3s also promote wellness by lowering risk of stroke, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s.

EFAs help build healthy cell membranes and synthesize a natural oil sheath that jackets your skin, lending you a young and radiant glow. Your skin is less likely to develop blackheads, whiteheads, and acne if your diet gets a healthy dose of EFAs from soy, sardines, salmon, mackerel, flax seeds, avocado, almonds, and walnuts. According to nutritionist Peggy Kotsopoulos, Omega-3s anti-inflammatory properties allow skin to heal faster and fight severe bouts of acne.

7. Keep your skin chemical free

Advertising campaigns emotionally blackmail us into buying more and more beauty products. If beauty is what these products promise to do, we should research what these products are really made of and how they impact our skin over prolonged periods of use.

Sulfates are synthetic ingredients derived from petrolatum and lauryl alcohol that make the skin dry, listless, and irritable. According to Michelle Sparrock, executive vice-president of beauty brand Live Clean, sulphates such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) are found in 90 percent shampoos and body washes. Yet we are unaware of its stealthy presence.

Making sure you use products that are free of sulfates can help you maintain the natural beauty and health of your skin. And if beauty products are important for your peace of mind, what you should really invest in is a good sunscreen to protect from the harmful Ultra Violet rays of the sun.

Though carcinogens are more likely to reach you cased in a fancy make-up set. Out of 1,000 carcinogens banned by the EU, only nine are banned in the US thus far. Also, watch out for products with labels containing words like “herbal,” which are no clear indicator of ingredients used. Cleaning your make-up off of your face, discarding old brushes, and researching homemade beauty remedies is the one practical way forward.

8. Smoking and drinking can wreck your skin

While smoking might look smoking hot onscreen, it causes skin all over your body, not just your face to wrinkle. According to Mayo Clinic, when you smoke, nicotine causes blood vessels in your outermost layers of skin to narrow down. This restricts the flow of blood, which in turn limits the supply of oxygen, and nutrients like Vitamin A to the skin. Chemicals present in the cigarette cause damage to collagen and elastin present in your skin, causing it to lose elasticity, and wrinkle in a way that cannot be reversed.

Alcohol has similar disadvantages when it comes to our skin. Doctor David Colbert, founder of New York Dermatology Group, says that alcohol is a hepatotoxin—it causes direct harm to the liver, cause it harms cells that detoxify the human body. The result is a liver that doesn’t work as well as it’s supposed to, leaving the individual looking pale, listless, with a jaundiced complexion, and enlarged skin pores. Alcohol also causes our skin to dehydrate and look puffy. To top it all alcohol contains congeners that contribute to the liquor’s unique taste and smell, but also to bad hangovers and sagging skin.

9. Learn to manage stress better 

Our lives are not getting any less stressful, however stress is directly proportional to aging, and thus wrinkled skin. Stress can cause us to lose sleep or sleep in excess, both badly affect the way we look and feel about our self.

Yoga is one way to manage stress, which has been designed to restore peace and balance in the mind and body. Sydney-based yoga instructor, Gabriella Dhanswan recommends combining yoga with a balanced diet to get naturally looking younger skin. Dhanswan says that yoga asanas (yoga postures) that involve bending and inverted postures increase blood supply to the head, reduce toxins in the body, and result in a natural glow in the skin. Some examples of asanas that result in a natural face lift are plow pose, child pose, cobra pose, fish pose, triangle pose, and shoulder stand.

Another way to combat stress is meditation. Vedic meditation instructor Charlie Knoles just asks us to compare before and after photographs of US presidents to see the effect of stress on aging. Knoles says that meditation not only helps reduce stress, combat high blood pressure, and depression—it changes the human body at the cellular level.

A study published in Plos One conducted at Howard University Medical Center, examined the effects of transcendental meditation and lifestyle changes on the production of telomerase. Telomerase is responsible for repairing caps of chromosomes called telomeres. Since shortening of telomeres causes aging, building them back can help reverse aging at the human DNA-level.

This study was conducted on 48 African American men and women suffering from stage I hypertension. The study group was chosen because African Americans comprise a high-risk segment of the population that suffer from extreme high blood pressure, incidents of heart disease, telomere dysfunction, and psychosocial stress. For 16 weeks, half the study group was directed to learn transcendental meditation techniques, while the other half was made to attend a health education program.

The study concluded that transcendental meditation and lifestyle changes both stimulated two genes in the human body that produced telomerase and helped lower blood pressure, allowing scientists to understand changes that take place at the cellular level.

10.  Having sex is good for your skin

Clinical sexologist Gloria Brame says that having regular sex helps increase blood circulation, improves supply of oxygen to the skin, helps toxins find their way out of the body, allows the skin to look brighter and lips fuller. Sex also helps balance hormones in the body and helps bolster the production of collagen.

According to sexologist Yvonne K. Fulbright, having sex also enhances the body’s immune system, against germs and viruses. Other benefits of sex include the natural facial workout you get during an orgasm. Since blood circulation improves, your outer skin gets moisture along the way. Your skin pores also open up naturally when you sweat. Pregnant women usually display glowing skin, but so do women on birth control because they’re taking capsules full of hormones that help the skin look healthy and young.

All in all, natural ways of looking young not only last a long while and ensure zero money spent, but they are designed to work in sync with changes that our body is bound to encounter with age. At the end of the day, natural healing like yoga or meditation allows us to lead happier, sustainable lives, which strive toward balance and inner peace.

Varuni Sinha

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