Start Looking Younger Today
by Amber Cass
by our Health Expert

Although growing older is something we all must face, how gracefully we age is up to us. It is up to you to guard your health and vitality and maintain the beauty of your youth. One of the first steps is to reduce the body's levels of the hormone cortisol, which leads to stress and the breakdown of collagen, a protein that makes your skin strong and supple.

We all know that stress is bad for us, but did you know that it could be the cause of premature aging? It's a good bet that the 70 million baby boomers headed for retirement are interested in this tidbit of information.

Hans Sely, an early twentieth century Health Expert, renowned for his work on the human adaptive response and the effects of stress on aging had a theory. His theory was that every stress that humans encounter causes a scar and that we get a little older each time we deal encounter a stressful situation.

Stress causes an increase in the adrenal hormone cortisol. It effects normal metabolism and leads to aging conditions. Cortisol is often called the age-accelerating hormone.

The more stress we are exposed to, the more cortisol our bodies will create in an attempt to jump-start our adaptive response. If you don't eat right, you are setting yourself up for premature aging. There are several major aging factors related to high cortisol:

  • Breakdown of collagen and elastin
  • Decreased brain function
  • Disordered lipid metabolism
    • Total cholesterol
    • Triglycerides
    • HDL to LDL ratio
  • Fluid retention
  • Higher cardiovascular risk
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Hypertension
  • Immune system decline
  • Memory loss
  • Nerve damage
  • Skin problems
    • Acne
    • Hair loss
    • Psoriasis
    • Seborrhea
    • Wrinkling

So, what do you do to reduce your cortisol and oxidative stress levels? Here are three suggestions that should help you to keep stress, cortisol and its aging effects at bay for as long as possible:

  1. Change your protein sources
    Animal proteins get harder to digest as we get older, so try to find protein sources outside of meat, poultry and fish. Vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains are good sources of protein.

  2. Find activities to help reduce stress
    A few suggestions are yoga, meditation, massage and prayer. Anything that you know will help you to achieve balance and calm.

  3. Try ashwagandha
    According to new research in the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association, an exotic Indian herb extract called ashwagandha may help reduce the body's cortisol levels. Also called withania somnifera, Indian ginseng, winter cherry and withania, ashwagandha has stress-relieving properties comparable to drugs commonly used to treat depression and anxiety.

    Ashwagandha root has been used for more than 2000 years in Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional medicine system originating in India. The name means "smells like a horse", because of its characteristic odor, and because it is believed that it could make someone as strong as a horse.

    Ashwagandha is available as a supplement and an extract. Animal toxicity studies indicate that this remarkable plant is safe and well tolerated, however it should be used with caution because it may have a sedative effect, and therefore can impair mental and physical performance and slow down breathing. Do not combine ashwagandha with alcohol or other sedative herbs, supplements or medications. If you are pregnant or nursing, check with your Health Expert before using ashwagandha.

Remember, stress takes a toll on our bodies as well as our minds. Chronic nervous tension is associated with premature aging, so if you want to look younger, try these suggestions. You have nothing to lose except some stress and maybe some wrinkles.

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