7 healthy habits to keep you young

Age really is just a number. Here’s how simple lifestyle habits can help fight the signs of aging to keep you looking and feeling young

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happy woman laughing

The secret to staying young

Ah, youth. We might not want to actually be 17 again, but we’d sure love to have the energy and powers of recovery, not to mention the lack of wrinkles and sun spots. But we just have to put up with getting old, right?

Not so fast, says holistic nutritionist Meghan Telpner. “We tend to accept in our society that degenerative disease is part of the aging process,” she says. “But a lot of it comes from lifestyle.”

So how can you tweak your lifestyle habits to stay younger inside and out? Here are seven suggestions from Telpner to integrate into your daily life.

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sleeping woman

1. Get more sleep

“Sleep is when our body does its healing and repairing,” says Telpner, adding that enough sleep is essential for both deep and superficial repairs, meaning everything from regenerating adrenal glands to healing that pimple on your chin. And while a nap or a weekend sleep-in does make a difference, it’s the day-to-day sleep deprivation that really promotes degeneration, as well as a body that’s prone to getting sick. “Without enough sleep our immune systems are weaker,” Telpner adds.

How much should you be getting? At least eight hours, Telpner says – more if you’re dealing with health challenges or extra stress. Think you don’t have enough time? Consider all the time you’ll lose later when you crash and burn with a cold or the flu – and think of how much happier and less stressed you are when you get more sleep. (Stress is aging, after all.) There might be less waking hours, but they’re higher quality.

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Nordic walking

2. Go outside – and avoid pollution

“We get caught in this cycle where we go underground to a parking garage and go to work and go work out in a gym and we’re failing to get a breath of proper air,” Telpner says. Her prescription? Go for a walk, a run or a bike ride outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine – and if you must stay indoors, at least crack a window.

Airborne toxins are one cause of health problems, including accelerated aging – but indoor pollution can be just as bad as outdoor, if not worse. So get out of the house, and if possible, choose less-trafficked streets and tree-filled parks to roam in, as they’ve got lower levels of airborne pollutants.

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fitness class

3. Move more, but don’t overdo it

Telpner is a big fan of exercise, which she says helps prevent aging, but her philosophy is that higher amounts of moderate exercise is best, rather than infrequent high-intensity bursts, which put stress on the body. “Less intense exercise more frequently is better for the long run,” she says. And if you are a fan of high-intensity exercise, she adds, whether it’s 30-km runs or hardcore weight-training sessions, “eat properly before and after, and be mindful of hydration.”

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hydrate drink water

4. Hydrate, and drink less caffeine and alcohol

“If we’re dehydrated we’re like a raisin versus a grape,” Telpner says. “If our cells are dehydrated, we actually get more wrinkly.” Drinking enough water is a given – you shouldn’t be feeling thirsty – but also eating lots of water-rich foods, which means fresh fruits and vegetables.

Telpner adds that both coffee and alcohol are dehydrating and aging, and recommends limiting consumption. “People say that one glass of wine a day will promote health,” she says. “I think one apple a day might promote more health.”

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salad healthy eating

5. Eat your greens

Leafy greens are nutritional powerhouses, Telpner says, recommending that you eat “as much as you can handle.” She likes to juice kale as one way to get it in her diet, but suggests working greens into meals in as many ways as possible: “Put a bit of raw spinach in a smoothie, chop greens up and mix them in brown rice, quinoa or burgers and spike your food with vegetables,” she says.

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6. Boost antioxidants

“If aging is caused or contributed to by circulating free radicals in our body,” says Telpner, “then those can be countered with eating high-antioxidant value foods.” What does that mean? Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, including berries, nuts such as walnuts and pumpkinseeds and spices like turmeric, cinnamon and oregano – “as unprocessed as possible.”

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7. Breathe deeply, and have more fun

Deep breathing – “expanding your lungs to their fullest potential” – helps rest the nervous system, says Telpner, which in turn promotes relaxation and reduces stress. And in between deep breaths, she adds, just try to have more fun overall. “Loving what you do most of the day, loving who you choose to share your bed with – all of those things are important for health and longevity.”

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