Anti-Ageing Habits Explained with The Health Anthropologist
Sara Aguilar, anthropologist and founder of keto supplements, talks us through how to easily incorporate anti-aging habits into your lifestyle.
Did you know that we are exposed to at least 700,000 up to 2,000,000 environmental toxins each day and these toxins can be found in the foods we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe and the products we put on our skin.
Combined, the toxins cause cellular degeneration, the process of aging and causes us to age faster: inside and out.
The good news is we can protect ourselves from these damaging toxins and use a host of techniques to slow down aging and even reverse it.
I am Sara Aguilar; the health anthropologist and keto diet specialist and I will explain how you can easily incorporate anti-aging habits into your lifestyle. This includes looking at how we can promote regeneration (the opposite of aging) through our diet, detoxification, rest, movement and skincare habits.
Anti-Aging starts with Detoxification.
The way to do this is to start eliminating the toxins from our bodies. In order flush toxins out, you need to drink plenty of water, ideally filtered water, otherwise you are adding more toxins into your diet. So, keep hydrated.
Then, I highly recommend periods of the day without consuming any foods or drink other than water or herbal teas. This is referred to as Intermittent Fasting or IF. This allows your body to focus on detoxing and regenerating, rather than processing toxins and gives your digestive system a break too. You can do this by eating your first meal later in the day (say 10am) and your last meal earlier in the day (say 4pm). So what you are doing is shortening your eating window. Not only does this have tremendous benefits for weight loss and even sleep, you actually recycle and regenerate cells in a process called autophagy. This juicy ‘autophagy’ is cellular magic.
Autophagy: Cellular Regeneration
The body is so beautifully designed that when we have periods without food (usually the 16-18 hour mark), our healthy cells decide to not waste valuable energy keeping sick and dying cells alive. And so they instead ‘eat’, and literally recycle sick and dying cells back into the system. These sick and dying cells are the degenerative aging cells that may carry diseases such as cancers and other illnesses. Then, when you go back to eating after a fasted period your body will produce brand new healthy cells. Autophagy is an amazing process for keeping us healthy, clearing out sick cells and regenerating our bodies. All you have to do is shorten your eating window. Amazing! That is the easiest and most effective anti-ageing hack you can do. It does not cost anything, just a little bit of discipline.
Sleep and Relaxation
Eating dinner early will improve the quality of your sleep too as the body struggles to process and regenerate simultaneously. Sleep and relaxation are sacred and beauty sleep is a very real thing. Sleep is the mechanism during which our bodies and brains regenerate and repair, without it we just cannot function—physically or cognitively. We have all experienced times when we have consistently lacked sleep and you do notice that not only can you not think straight, looking tired is looking older. Therefore, prioritise getting around 8 hours of sleep a night without being disturbed by blue light or too much EMF which can disrupt your sleep quality. So, I recommend avoiding stimulants and food before bed, wearing an eye mask, having a cold bedroom and switching your phone to airplane mode.
So far we have looked at hydration, intermittent fasting and sleep habits, lets look at the foods that catalyse aging. There are two main ingredients that speed up cellular degeneration inside our bodies that are everywhere and these are: Processed Sugars and Vegetable Oils.
There is 100 times more processed sugars and vegetable oils in our diet than 60 years ago and this is correlating with chronic heart diseases and other chronic illnesses such as type two diabetes. Processed oils and sugars cause macular degeneration—they are demons in our modern diets. They are newly introduced and our bodies have not evolved to process them.
What’s wrong with sugar? There is nothing inherently wrong with sugar, it is the quantity of sugar that we are consuming and more than one teaspoon of sugar in our bloodstream becomes toxic. Which is why we produce insulin to clean out and store the sugar in our muscle and fat cells.
Processed Sugar and Advanced Glycation End Products
From an anti-ageing perspective, when you consume sugar it creates AGEs, and these are Advanced Glycation End Products that are sticky proteins that bind to cells in the body and brain causing a loss of structure in our collagen and makes our synapses more sticky and rigid. What does that mean? Collagen is the protein that gives elasticity and plumpness in the skin and is associated with youthfulness. As we age the collagen proteins get damaged and creased which looks like wrinkles and a sallow face and the AGEs from sugar speed up this process. AGEs that attach to brain cells and synapse make it more difficult to learn and remember new things and harder for synapse communication—this is directly linked to Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
So just by reducing your sugar intake, you are slowing down the release of Advanced Glycation End Products that are aging your skin tissue and disrupting your brain function. This is why keto and low carb diets are renowned for being anti-ageing—as you are eliminating an ageing ingredient from your diet.
Inflammation and Processed Seed Oils
The other big baddie is processed vegetable oils. What are these? Rapeseed oil, sunflower seed oil and heat processed seed oils. When you heat process polyunsaturated fatty acids, they have a low smoking point, you distort their chemical structure and they become almost synthetic and unrecognisable enzymes when you eat them. They wreak havoc in the body causing oxidation and release free radicals into your body. They are found in margarine, store bought hummus and mayonnaise and preserved and pre-packaged foods. You are better off eating more traditional fats for cooking such as butter, coconut oil, tallow, avocado oil and olive oil.
Nutrition: Embrace Anti-Ageing Foods
We have talked a lot about what not to eat but what can you eat to reverse some of the damage from sugars and vegetable oils? Antioxidant rich foods combat the oxidative stress caused by environmental toxins as well as nutritional toxins. Brightly coloured and darkly pigmented fruits and vegetables are antioxidant and polyphenol rich and high in vitamin C to help clear out the oxidants and free radicals from processed sugars and vegetable oils. Counteract the damage done. Think blueberries, blackberries, red peppers, leafy green vegetables, cavolo nero and colourful plants—eat the rainbow for regeneration. In addition, DHA found in fatty fish and walnuts is essential for our brain health, you want a young brain as well as a young body.
Collagen supplementation is also a brilliant way to plump the skin and repair your own damaged collagen. You can get this from bony meats, a collagen supplement or bone broth.
Daylesford Thai Chicken Broth with Chilli & Lemongrass 500g, £5.49
Planet Paleo Pure Collagen 450g, £41.00
Organic & Seasonal Fruit & Veg Box large, £26.00
Wiley's Finest Peak EPA & DHA Omega-3 Liquid 250ml, £37.99
Biona Pure Blueberry Juice 330ml, £7.99
It goes without saying that movement and physical activity is also essential for staying young, promoting blood flow, full body oxygenation and to release toxins both through the skin and the lymphatic system.
In summary, you can combat and reverse the ageing damage caused by toxins by adopting new habits around hydration, sleep, intermittent fasting, avoiding inflammatory foods and eating more antioxidant rich foods. These won’t just make you look more youthful but you will feel more youthful too!
You can find out more about Sara @thehealthanthropologist.