We all tend to commit to a refreshed resolve at the beginning of each year regarding our diets and life style. And I have already blogged about many aspects of how to go about this. So I thought a quick re-cap and a short plan of action might be timely.
Sugar is now considered by many experts to be a key factor in aging because of the additional free radical activity it causes and because of its ability to deplete the immune system by reducing the germ gobbling capacity of our white blood cells.
So the first step to getting healthy for 2013 is to cut back on sugar. Start by reading food packages to check the glycemic index they contain. This includes everything from ‘healthy’ juices to bread. Sugar shows up in surprising places so you really have to develop some serious sleuthing techniques. Try to eliminate as much starch and as many simple carbohydrates as possible.
Load up on vegetables and fruits, particularly apples and berries, and if you crave something really sweet, stick to dark chocolate. For more information on sugar and the effect it has on our bodies read my blog “The not so sweet side of Sugar”.
Guzzle, guzzle, guzzle.
Take some time out from alcohol. This is another source of sugar that really works the liver so to detox well we have to give the liver a break. Start each day with a big glass of water – room temperature or warm with a squirt of fresh lemon in it. Continue to drink water throughout the day.
Limit the amount of caffeine you drink – maybe to one caffeinated beverage a day – supplement with fruit teas, green tea, dandelion tea and ginger root. Juicing is a great way to cleanse out inner organs. Celery, kale, cucumber, watercress and beetroot are fabulous diuretics and these same vegetables can also be made in to a nourishing soup.
Take those vitamins.
Everyone tends to have a certain regimen in place but to start the New Year off on the right foot, check you have included C, zinc, the B family (particularly 5 and 12), fish oils, milk thistle and a good probiotic in the mix (make sure the cultures in the probiotic number in the trillions).
We live in a great place for getting out into nature if you are not a gym rat or like attending classes. Mix things up to keep it interesting – 3-4 times a week for at least 40 minutes for maintenance; more often if you have some pounds to lose.
Rest up and play lots.
Check out my most recent blog “Sleeping beauty (How sleep affects your skin)” to bone up on the importance of sleep and how it affects your skin and the aging process. But bear in mind, rest is just as important. Cultivate hobbies and interests outside of work, like reading and gardening. Schedule social time with friends and loved ones and quiet time and spa time for yourself.
Your mind is a powerful tool. When you feel your life is in balance because you are working, resting and living well, you feel more positive about everything. It has been proven that optimists live longer so I really recommend you make the effort to treat yourself with care. I guarantee your efforts will result in more energy, a slimmer waistline and a more focused, fulfilled and happier life.
That sweet tooth! Who knew it could get us into so much trouble? When we consume sugar in all its forms – especially the refined type – it attaches itself very quickly to proteins and fats in our bodies. This is called GLYCATION. The really bad news is that sugar has a particular affinity for dermal proteins, the deeper layers of the skin. The by-product of glycation is known as advanced glycation end products (or AGEs) and age us it does, causing stiffening of the connective tissue, inflammation, wrinkles and sagging.
Cross linking in proteins is part of the natural aging process, but if you add poor lifestyle to the mix – smoking, UV exposure, drug use, lack of exercise and poor diet – then you have the perfect storm.
ELIMINATE REFINED SUGARS:
Eliminating all sugars from our diet is not advisable either. Complex carbohydrates supply much needed glucose to fuel cellular activity throughout the body. BUT we can eliminate certain foods to help the skin retain some of its natural youthfulness and tone. These would include refined sugars, white bread and all simple carbohydrates, and the worst culprit of all, high-fructose corn syrup.
Fruit flavored drinks and even crackers often contain very high levels of sugar and so do most processed foods, so scrutinize any pre-packaged products before you put them in your shopping basket.
We can further counteract the damaging effects of glycation by adding the amino acid, CARNOSINE, to our supplement list, GREEN TEA to our fluid intake and other anti-oxidants to our diet, such as vitamins A, B1 and B6, C and E. These are all potent AGE inhibitors.
CHECK GLYCEMIC LEVELS:
Checking the glycemic levels of the fruits and vegetables we consume can make a big difference. This information can be found easily on the internet. For example, carrots, corn and potatoes contain a lot of sugar but spinach, Swiss chard, broccoli and cucumbers contain very little. Plus, they are alkaline in nature and help to maintain the pH balance in the gut (refer to my previous post Healthy Skin and the Value of pH Balancing).
So, next time you have a hankering for something sweet, reach for a handful of cherries, berries, an apple, peach or a plum. And if you want to follow the example of our French beauty experts, a piece of dark chocolate.
According to the experts, we don’t establish our circadian rhythms until we are about six weeks old. That’s about the time when babies can hold more milk in their bellies to sleep longer periods. Sleep helps us fight illness, manage stress AND keeps our skin youthful and fresh.
When we are tired, our skin will look tired too. Lines deepen and look more ingrained, the complexion looks dull and eyes are often shadowed. When we get enough rest the sleep hormone, MELATONIN, is able to go to work. It lowers blood pressure and core body temperature, regulates hormonal levels and increases our alertness the next day. Just losing one hour of sleep a night can reduce day-time attentiveness by one third.
And to add insult to injury, because the lack of sleep interferes with ghrelin and leptin – the eat and don’t eat buttons in our bodies – we tend to snack irregularly and eat more sugary and starchy foods. This leads to a spike in our sugar levels, creating glycation and inflammation. Check out my recent blog “The Not So Sweet Side of Sugar“. This can age us very rapidly, create break-outs, wrinkles, rosacea, dryness, and even depression and chronic illness.
So, if you can get eight hours of sleep a night – perfect. If not, try napping. Recent studies have established that just a short nap can clear and recharge the brain just as effectively as a longer sleep. Your eyes and skin will be brighter and you will be more productive each and every day.