Did you just meet someone from high school or a friend from long ago and were amazed at how young they look? It’s like time passed slower for them than everybody else. So naturally, you ask yourself: how do they do it? Is it even something they purposefully do, or were they just born with it? Science will tell you that it’s your genes that make you look younger than your biological age and that it’s little you can do about it. That’s true. There are some inherited physical traits that tend to make people look more mature and, with time, older than they really are. A certain skin type, certain physical features passed down from someone in your family can sometimes make you look older than your real age.
For instance, some people have low cheekbones and droopy cheeks which ages them visually. High cheekbones on the other hand, that is, those prominent cheekbones we see on most models in fashion magazines and on the runway, are more aesthetically pleasing and make a person look younger for longer, even as they age. Some people have very thin skin which looks absolutely gorgeous when young, but wrinkles faster than the less desirable thicker, textured skin. Genetic dark circles under the eyes, which can be extremely pronounced, also age a person beyond their years.
But while some inherited physical features can make a person look older than they really are, genetics can only go so far. For the most part, it’s what you eat and drink, how you live, where you live and what you think that will ultimately have the biggest impact on your appearance and how much younger or older you look than your real age, and feel. Today we’re going to talk about all the things that can make a person look younger as well as feel younger beyond their years and how to realistically achieve a more youthful appearance.
1 Consider a predominantly vegetarian diet
Our choice of foods can make or break out health and also impact how young we look. Eating more of some foods and less of others can make you look younger than your real, biological age. And feel younger too. For example, having a predominantly vegetarian diet, that is, 60-70% plant foods and 30-40% animal foods, is healthy and helps you look younger beyond your age. Why? The more plant foods you eat, the more antioxidants you get. Antioxidants protect cells from free radical damage and even help repair existing cell damage, protecting against aging and disease. A lot of antioxidants also possess strong anti-inflammatory effects and can help reduce risks of age-related diseases and their very visible physical side effects.
For example, tomatoes are rich in lycopene which not only protects against heart disease, cardiovascular events such as stroke and heart attack and some cancers, but also actively combats skin aging for a more youthful appearance (find out more about the benefits of lycopene). Cherries, especially red and black cherries, are rich in anthocyanin antioxidants which reduce risks of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and associated bone and joint deformities often seen in older people, as well as help improve joint pain in the established disease. Because of its scientifically proven in vitro anti-inflammatory effects, cherry consumption contributes to healthier joints and better posture, two of the hallmarks of youth. Being hunched with pain from arthritis or some other inflammatory condition makes a person look a lot older than they really are, hence the importance of regulating your diet early on, while still biologically young. Also read about the benefits of cherries and cherry juice for arthritis.
Of course, animal foods are important too as they provide dense nutrition, particularly fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, water-soluble vitamin B12 and healthy fats such as EPA and DHA Omega-3 and cholesterol. Some of the nutrients you find in animal foods such as meat, fish, eggs, milk and dairy you won’t find in plant foods (e.g. vitamin B12, cholesterol, EPA and DHA Omega-3). But your body still needs them every single day.
Fats such as cholesterol and vitamins such as vitamin B12 not only feed the brain, but also help build brain matter and nerve cells. Cholesterol and vitamin B12 are two of the building blocks of the insulating myelin sheath surrounding the tail of nerve cells. Without this biological insulation, electrical impulses from the brain get lost and coordination problems occur, such as in multiple sclerosis and other degenerative diseases of the nervous system. Preliminary research suggests getting these two nutrients in your diet may help reduce risks of multiple sclerosis and similar diseases of the nervous system which reduce life expectancy and life quality. Getting enough fats in your diet feeds the brain optimally and keeps it young and, by extension, keeps your mind young. You will think clearer, remember better and keep up a good learning capacity even as you advance in age, which is also a form of youth.
In addition to helping you be physically younger, nutrients such as cholesterol and EPA and DHA Omega-3 from animal foods help you look younger. Fats build skin cell membranes and allow skin cells to absorb and retain water which contributes to a plumper, more radiant and youthful-looking skin. Sure, you can get plenty of healthy fats from plant foods, but you can’t get all the different types of healthy fats you need for you skin and other organs and systems, and there’s no replacing them. Fats from animal foods further exert antioxidant and antiaging effects at skin level, preventing, reducing and repairing skin cell damage caused by free radicals. Without this protection and nourishment, skin starts looking older faster. Animal foods further provide pre-formed vitamin A that is the main nutrient responsible for the production of new skin cells and their differentiation (hence the popularity of retinol face creams for aging men and women).
The good news is that you can eat a lot less animal foods compared to plant foods and get all the nutrients and healthy components you need for feeling and looking younger because animal foods are nutrient dense so a little goes a long way. Too much animal food in your diet reduces your intake of healthy antioxidant and anti-inflammatory components from plant foods and causes the accumulation of not-so-healthy elements which come with side effects for the heart and cardiovascular system, digestive system, immune system and more. This is another argument in favor of a predominantly vegetarian diet.
2 Choose food quality
Not all food is the same. For example, tomatoes grown using intensive agricultural practices that put emphasis on yield rather than crop nutritional value will end up less nutritious. Your own backyard tomato plant will almost always produce more nutritious fruit, and better tasting too. More nutrients and other healthful components in your food translates into more health benefits, including anti-aging benefits. Organic food is also less likely to contain large amounts of chemical pesticides, or dangerous products. Whatever kills insects or ‘deters’ other animals looking to share our food will also accumulate in the food we eat and then in our bodies. This ultimately causes the body to reassign resources to cleaning and detoxifying what shouldn’t have been there in the first place, leaving fewer resources destined to keeping us feeling healthy and looking the part.
If possible, choose food grown in a less intensive agricultural system, which is often the ‘organic’ kind (unfortunately, the prices for healthier, more natural food are steeper). If possible, eat locally. When your food is locally-sourced, you always have the option to check on it and see just how it’s produced. If possible, get your tomatoes or cherries, plums, bell peppers, parsley, cilantro, eggs, olive oil or milk from low-scale farmers (farmers that grow/produce a limited number of foods on a small piece of land and, as a result, don’t use agrochemicals or intensive agricultural practices). Or turn to your neighbor who is raising chickens as a hobby and always has extra eggs. Or your parents who need help picking the cherry tree clean in cherry season. Or grow some of the foods you absolutely love and eat all the time, whether it’s 5 tomato, bell pepper or hot pepper plants in your backyard, a cherry tree, one raspberry or blackberry bush or a pot of parsley, thyme, oregano, basil or other herbs.
3 Eat foods as close to their natural state as possible
Another secret to looking and feeling younger and healthier is to eat foods as close as possible to their natural state. For example, eat pure ground chicken or turkey meat instead of pre-packaged, frozen chicken nuggets or fast-food burgers. If you’re hungry, season a defrosted turkey breast with salt, pepper and maybe some hot pepper powder, add extravirgin olive oil and just cook it in a pan with the lid on for 5-6 minutes on each side. The resulting food will be extra-nutritious: protein-rich, low-fat and a great source of B vitamins, including vitamins B5, B6 and B12. Read the label and avoid products with preservatives, color or flavor additives.
4 Drink better water
This is one aspect that most people disregard when it comes to their health and youthful appearance. Science says we are 60% water and our skin alone is around 60% water too. To look younger and overall better, our skin cells plump up with water (the fat-based cell membranes help skin cells retain water). Dehydrated skin looks saggy, dry, deflated even, dull and listless and visually ages a person beyond their years. Drinking water whenever you feel thirsty helps plump up skin and makes it look more youthful, adding radiance to the skin. A good water intake even helps combat spots and uneven skin tone problems which make skin look older, as well as contributes to the body’s natural detoxification processes that keep us looking and feeling younger and healthier.
Unfortunately, not all water is the same. Some waters are just better for you than others. Tap water contains disinfectants such as chlorine, pipe cleaning agents or chemical corrosion inhibitors and is reused, despite being filtered and treated to be ‘safe’ for consumption. Another issue is the nitrates levels in tap water which, while under a certain amount, are still not low enough. In large cities, tap water often contains more serious contaminants such as copper, lead or other heavy metals. Lead and copper are known to leach in drinking water from water pipes and accumulate in critical amounts that are detrimental to health (such as in the case of Flint, Michigan, an ongoing health crisis that has yet to be resolved). In industrial areas, tap water is often extremely contaminated and compromises health severely. Research links consumption of water from public water systems from industrial areas to reduced like expectancy and serious health issues such as cancers, heavy metal poisoning and stillbirths.
Bottled water coming from natural springs is not only perfectly drinkable, and tested at regular intervals, but also a more natural and healthier choice and a source of trace minerals that contribute to good health. Bottled water is extremely low in nitrates, not to mention it has no chemical disinfectants and no pollutants (it’s clean water). There are no risks of contamination with disease-causing microorganisms or heavy metals since it’s sourced from clean springs, away from cities and industrial areas. If you are looking to invest in your health and live longer and look younger, consider bottled water. If possible, choose water bottled in glass, not plastic.
5 Consider air quality
Air quality has a direct and meaningful impact on skin appearance and overall health. Our skin absorbs components in the air such as dust, dirt, pollen particles, but also cigarette smoke, car exhaust fumes such as hydrocarbons, smog (polluted fog mixed with smoke and various chemicals), irritants and other pollutants. Pollutants present in the air age skin prematurely via oxidative stress and inflammation, interference with collagen production and skin cell regeneration, as well as clog skin pores and weigh skin down visibly.
Long-term side effects of air pollution include loss of skin elasticity due to reduced collagen production, premature wrinkling, dull and listless skin and breakouts, acne, atopic dermatitis and other skin issues. What you can do about it is avoid smoking, both first-hand and second-hand smoking. Change the air filter in your car every 6 months or so if you are using it on a daily basis. Drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin from the inside. Use moisturizers, lotions and face masks on a regular basis for nourishment. And always remember to clean your skin to remove particles such as dust, dirt, fumes and various pollutants that have settled into pores during the day. And lastly, choose to live in an area filled with trees, whether it’s the countryside or a suburban area. Trees and greenery trap dust and pollutants before they reach your skin.
6 Vitamin C supplementation
Vitamin C supplementation is a great way to keep your skin looking younger. Vitamin C actively stimulates the production of collagen, a structural protein that provides ‘structure’ to skin, but also bones, joints, tendons and other connective tissues. Collagen makes skin elastic and keeps it looking young, delaying wrinkles. But collagen production drops after the age of 30 and continues to drop as we grow older. Increasing vitamin C intake helps maintain a consistent collagen production level and skin looking younger over the years. Studies show you need a minimum of 500 mg of vitamin C a day to see some benefits, but a better amount is 1000 mg to 2000 mg daily, depending on your tolerance.
The benefits of supplementing with vitamin C are not just skin-related – vitamin C reduces inflammation levels in the body too. The amount of vitamin C you need every day is extremely difficult to get from food alone, but you can easily get enough vitamin C from supplementation. There are also natural vitamin C supplements made from rosehip or acerola cherry you can consider which are as great as regular ones.
7 Coenzyme Q10 supplementation
Coenzyme Q10 is produced naturally in the human body. CoQ10 serves many purposes and provides numerous benefits, one being anti-aging benefits. CoQ10 is an antioxidant that protects cells from oxidative damage and related side effects. Production decreases with age and has been correlated with poor health and aging-related health problems. Getting enough CoQ10 both from food and supplements helps protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress, exerting antioxidant and anti-aging benefits. Coenzyme Q10 is also present in face creams where it has been added for more youthful looking skin.
8 Take a multivitamin
A good multivitamin supplement can supply a lot of essential vitamins and dietary minerals that promote skin health and help you look younger, and live longer and healthier. Good multivitamin supplements will have:
- Vitamin C for collagen production and improved skin elasticity.
- Coenzyme Q10 for antioxidant and anti-aging benefits at cell level.
- Vitamin A for the production of new, healthy skin cells.
- Vitamin E for healthy skin cell membranes that retain moisture better and help skin look younger.
- B vitamins for better skin integrity (no dry, cracked skin, lips and corners of the mouth that increase the risk for skin infections).
- Essential dietary minerals that contribute to the body’s natural antioxidant defense systems such as copper, iron and zinc which are co-factors for the superoxide dismutase enzyme.
- Magnesium and potassium for better blood pressure numbers, to combat redness and puffiness as well as swelling in the legs, ankles, feet etc. caused by hypertension and water retention.
- Iodine and selenium for thyroid health. The thyroid gland regulates the endocrine system and hormone production, with direct benefits for skin appearance (e.g. no acne). Getting enough iodine and selenium helps prevent dry, flaky skin, thinning hair and hair loss and weight gain, and helps you and your skin look younger.
9 Krill oil or fish oil
All cell membranes in the body are made up of fats. It is the job of cell membranes to help skin cells retain moisture, thus preventing dry, flaky skin, tears in the skin and associated infections, and an overall dehydrated, dull and old-looking skin. Some of the healthiest fats are EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids which you get plenty of from fish and some seafood. Supplementation with krill oil or fish oil provides healthy EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits for the skin. Fish oil also provides vitamins A and D, while krill oil also provides a red-orange carotene antioxidant known astaxanthin (also found in salmon, red trout, shrimp, crayfish, crab and lobster and flamingos).
EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits for the skin and cardiovascular system in particular, and contribute to physical health and a more youthful looking skin, radiant and plump. Vitamins A and D in fish oil contribute to the immune system response and prevent infections, including skin infections. Vitamin A is responsible for the production of new skin cells and their differentiation, while also exerting antioxidant and anti-aging effects at skin level, preventing and repairing cell damage. The antioxidant astaxanthin in krill oil also has anti-aging benefits. Krill oil has the added benefit that it is one of the purest seafood-based supplements there are.
10 Hydrate and moisturize skin
You can tell when someone’s skin is hydrated and moisturized and generally well taken care of. How? That person will look young, younger even than their real age. Over time, consistent use of face creams, serums and hydrating masks will preserve skin elasticity and integrity, delay wrinkles and fill in existing wrinkles, resulting in a person looking younger than their real biological age. Whether you are a woman or a man, using a good face cream every day will do wonders for your skin long-term.
A secret not many people know is that you don’t necessarily have to use a face cream meant for your age group. In fact, it’s actually better for your skin long-term if you use face creams, serums and similar skin products designed for people older than you are. Even if you are in your 30s, confidently use face creams for people in their 40s, 50s or 60s. These products are especially designed for older skin that needs more care and nourishment, and usually contain higher amounts of components with strong reparative and anti-aging properties to prevent skin aging, loss of elasticity and wrinkles. A few years down the line, people will start complimenting you on how good your skin looks and even make remarks of the likes of how young you look.
11 Use SPF protection
Sun exposure is both good, because it helps you make vitamin D for a strong immune system, and bad because it ages skin and causes wrinkles and age spots. Whenever you are exposing your face and rest of the skin to direct sunlight, use a good SPF lotion or cream with a protection factor of at least 25 or 30. In addition to looking younger than your biological age, SPF lotions and creams will protect skin from cancer.
12 Take care of your teeth
Nice looking teeth always make a person look younger, healthier, more confident, and feel the part. If there’s one investment you should be making when it comes to your health, it’s taking care of your teeth. Simple things such as brushing your teeth twice a day, not going to bed without brushing and using mouthwash to reduce bacterial load in the mouth and advance gum health can do wonders for your health. Bacteria in the mouth can cause both gum disease and tooth loss, and expensive dentist bills, but also heart disease. A good teeth cleaning once every 6 to 12 months also helps remove plaque (and stains) and reduces risks of gum disease, cavities and tooth loss.
If you have crooked teeth that you find hard to clean when you’re brushing, you also run a risk of developing tooth decay over time. Getting braces can not only help you straighten your teeth and look younger as a result, but also makes it easier to clean teeth properly when they are realigned and can help reduce jaw and ear pain and headaches.
13 Wash your hands
When you get an infection and become sick, your immune system activates to stop the infection. But getting frequent infections can overload the immune system and weaken the body. While you do recover, you need time to do so, as well as resources. Your body will redirect essential resources to building itself up following an infection, at the cost of other aspects of health. Washing your hands with plain soap and water before eating, before handling food and first thing when you come home is enough to prevent all kinds of infections and strengthen the body. The healthier you are, the better you feel and look and the longer you live.
14 Reduce stress
Stress causes a person to adopt unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol or energy drinks, eating fast food or processed food instead of healthy, unprocessed food. Stress causes a person to lose sleep and sleep is vital for the body to regenerate and the immune system to stay strong. Stress causes a person to stop taking care of themselves in many ways, from exercising to maintaining a skin care routine to eating right or at all. Stress can shorten life by causing a heart attack or stroke, for example. Stress uses the body’s energy and vitamin and mineral stores.
For example, stress can easily eat up magnesium and increase magnesium requirements at the expense of bone and teeth health, cardiovascular health, sleep and mental health (magnesium is needed for strong bones and teeth, helps lower blood pressure, helps you sleep better at night and reduces anxiety levels). One of the best things you can do to improve your life and physical and mental health is to learn how to manage stress. Do whatever you feel will help you reduce stress in your life so you can lead a healthier, longer life. And look younger because stress also causes more wrinkles.
15 Be consistent
If you ate healthy, took vitamin C every day last year for the whole year and wore sunscreen, that’s great. But you have to do it this year too, and the next, and so on. If you really do want to turn back time and feel and look younger than your age, then be consistent in your good habits. You might not realize just how much of an impact good habits have on your appearance and spirit, but others will. And you will one day start getting compliments for all of your hard effort and be told how young you look, how youthful your skin skin, how you don’t have wrinkles and how time seems to not have passed for you.
This whole article on how to look and feel younger may appear simplistic to some of you reading it but, at the end of the day, these are the things that really matter, the things that make a difference. The things we do every single day for years on end will ultimately decide if we look younger than our biological age, and feel just the same. Being consistent and setting up healthy habits and routines will not only improve health, but also make us feel and look younger than we really are.
This post was updated on Monday / August 10th, 2020 at 12:27 PM