The quest for maintaining or restoring health and beauty impacts each of us in different ways. If you are sitting in a doctor’s office as you read this article, then you are likely involved in some aspect of this quest. Much of American (and western) medicine is focused on treating disease and hopefully restoring health, sadly with much less emphasis on maintaining wellness and health. Ideally, each of us would have as one of our life’s goals to pursue not just a long lifespan, but rather the goal of achieving “healthy longevity”. Having a lifetime of good health inside and out requires some planning and education. There are many articles and books devoted to these pursuits so I will simply try to summarize a few key points and highlight some practical tips that are easily adoptable even for people with limited time or limited budgets.
While a healthy body does not guarantee healthy skin, the old adage that “inner beauty of spirit shines through” also applies to a healthy body – our skin tends to reflect our inner health and well-being. Problems such as chronic physical illness, chronic stress, poor nutrition, lack of exercise and many other factors certainly take a toll on the skin.
In particular, environmental damage to your body – whether from the inside or the outside – really impacts not only your health and longevity, but also how long you maintain a youthful appearance. While we all experience chronological aging (the clock ticks onward for each of us), lifestyle decisions can significantly impact biological aging. We all know people who do not look or feel their age. We also know those who seem much older than their birthday. Even identical twins typically die many years apart in age! There are studies showing dramatic differences in aging of skin in identical twins who have had different environmental exposures (oxidative stress from free radicals and inflammation are two major causes of premature aging that we can impact).
Twin studies show us that while some aspects of aging are due to genetic inheritance, others are clearly due to differences in lifestyle. While we cannot change our genetics (or genes or DNA) and we cannot completely control our environments, our lifestyle choices can significantly impact how our bodies (and our skin) cope with daily life. So please choose wisely and choose health! Here are some helpful tips:
Anti-Aging Tips for Healthier Body & More Youthful Skin
a. Eat a “Rainbow” diet with brightly colored fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants
b. Decrease sugar as much as possible (and I prefer to avoid most substitutes as well)
c. Eat cruciferous veggies (yes, this means broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts!)
d. Omega 3 fish oil supplements (or natural if you can accomplish that)
e. Avoid high glycemic index foods and include good natural fiber
f. Eat as close to the farm as you can (less processing is generally better)
g. Check vital nutritional values such as vitamin D and other critical ones
2. Protect your skin
a. SPF with “Broad Spectrum” label per new FDA labeling guidelines
b. Consider topical super-potent antioxidants
c. Rx topical retinoids are still among the best products for many people
3. Exercise & Sleep – Get enough of both and don’t overdo either one
4. Be proactive (and not reactive) about your health – read, learn and become your
5. Keep your mind active…not just your body. Stay engaged, pursue something you
love, enjoy fellowship with other people, help someone else, and never, never stop
learning and thinking!
David H. McDaniel, MD, FAAD
Director, Institute of Anti-Aging Research
Eastern Virginia Medical School
125 Market Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23462