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…. is…..

not a secret. There’s no magic pill. Well, that’s not exactly true: you can chemical peel and plastic surgery yourself into a different person on the outside, but on the inside, you’re aging as well as you’re taking care of yourself, from the food you eat to how much sleep you get to your lifestyle.

Anti-aging products and procedures are the hottest tickets in town right now. Everyone wants the fountain of youth. Why does aging have to be unattractive? In Asian cultures, older folks are prized for their wisdom while in America, they are cast aside in favor of youth, which equals beauty. We’re all going to get old, so might as well do it with grace. Here are the secrets to the fountain of youth.

Aging is oxidation. Think about what happens when you leave your bicycle out in the rain. It rusts. This same oxidation reaction occurs inside our bodies as we age. Free radicals are unstable molecules that exacerbate the aging process by using up all of our anti-oxidants, to which they bond for stability. If you don’t have enough anti-oxidants available, or if you’re exposed to too many free radicals, you will age faster. Free radicals are created through exposure to chemicals in our environment, like pollution, or in our diet, from consuming poor quality foods, hydrogenated oils, or from stress, smoking, or excessive drinking.

The first step is to watch your diet. Eat organic when possible. Pesticides are chemicals that build up in your fatty tissues, and these toxins stress your body’s anti-oxidant reserves. Consume a plant-based diet full of leafy greens, brightly colored berries (blueberries especially), and add copious amounts of “superfoods:” acai, spirulina and chlorella, avocado, walnuts, green and herbal teas, broccoli, fermented foods like yogurt or kraut, sea vegetables, and spices like cinnamon and ginger. Make sure you’re getting the “ACESZ:” the anti-oxidants A, C, E, zinc, and selenium. These are free radical quenchers. Get enough of the “hormone vitamin,” D. Eat hormone-free meats, and stay away from charred meats on the grill. They are high in carcinogens. Eat plenty of raw foods for their enzymes, but be aware that the body needs protein to detox. Drink water (about an ounce for every pound of body weight) to flush toxins.

Keep your blood sugar levels balanced during the day. This means eat every 3-4 hours and don’t skip meals. Balance carbs (grains, fruits, vegetables) with protein, and avoid refined foods. Read labels and avoid white flour, white sugar, artificial flavors and colors, and hydrogenated fats. Minimize or eliminate glutinous grains. These foods cause inflammation, which leads to pain and disease. Calm inflammation with essential fatty acids (found in fish and walnuts and unrefined oils).

Keep your liver happy. Your liver is charged with detoxifying your body. If it is overwhelmed and congested, toxins build up in your body and create free radical damage. Choose liver-friendly foods like broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, beets, eggs (high in lecithin), greens, and herbs like burdock, milk thistle, and oregon grape root. Drink water with lemon, which is alkalizing and detoxifies. Make sure you poop regularly: the longer it stays in your colon, the more your body reabsorbs the toxins that were supposed to be excreted.

Limit sugar, especially refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Sugar leads to obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and blood pressure, and exacerbates the aging process. The easiest way to cut sugar out of your diet is to avoid sodas and refined, boxed foods.

Get enough sleep. Seven to nine hours suffices for most folks. The immune system is most active at night, so if you’re not asleep, you’re robbing your body’s natural defense system. There’s a reason why you look older when you haven’t been sleeping. Also, your body makes melatonin at night when you sleep, and this is a very important anti-aging anti-oxidant. Take naps.

Exercise, but not too much. Too much exercise creates free radical damage in the body, so don’t overdo it. Balancing cardio with yoga is always a good routine. Find something enjoyable for your personality, whether it be group sports, walking, hiking, gardening, or dancing….. as long as you’re moving.

Make sure your adrenal hormones are balanced. High cortisol levels, caused by excess stress, causes inflammation, which causes free radical damage. High cortisol can also lead to high blood sugar, weight gain, pain, and anxiety. Practice stress relief, get enough sleep, and consume vitamin C and mineral rich foods for adrenal health. You can test your adrenal hormone levels with an easy spit test and balance them accordingly. You adrenals are a crucial part in governing your major body systems like you immune system and sex hormones and digestive system.

So. You can try oxygen therapy, electrolyte water, or botox, but the secret to looking good on the outside is taking care of your insides.

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