No matter your age, we all want to turn the clock back when it comes to how we look. We spend money on creams, pills, potions and books -- all searching for that elusive fountain of youth. While we know the handiwork or a good plastic surgeon often goes a long way, for many of us, it is a last option on the road to beauty. I know all this because this is my journey as well -- the journey to being whole should not have to include Botox and fillers -- at least for now.
What I have learned in all my studies and interactions with patients is that we can turn back the clock in a way that reveals a better version of ourselves -- maybe a new definition of beauty. I am always surprised by the patient that comes in on the first visit, haggard and exhausted, but as we correct poor health, within three months a younger, more vibrant shadow self emerges. Going beyond basic beauty and getting that glow requires working from the inside out, rather than the other way around. Here are my key steps to looking five years younger by this spring.
1. Correct your pH.
Acidic body -- acidic face? None of us want to think of our faces disintegrating in a vat of acid, but that is what happens when we maintain a low body pH. The ideal pH balance of our bodies should be around 6.8 or higher, but when we eat foods high in sugar, caffeine or salt, we shift our pH lower, leading us to create a state of chronic inflammation. Inflammation is the trigger for wrinkles, sagging skin and breakouts -- we can call it skinflammation! (1)
Prevent skinflammation by correcting and checking your pH as a beauty strategy -- you can order pH strips online and monitor either saliva or urine pH. Start removing sugar, alcohol and caffeine if you notice your pH is consistently below 6.8.
This time-tested beauty secret still stands. Drinking water through the day improves skin tone, texture and helps elimination. While 48 ounces is a minimum water requirement, working out, traveling or heavy caffeine intake increases the amount you need for dewy, well-hydrated skin. Try adding a mineral packet into your water once a day for added benefit. (2)
3. Balance Your Bacteria
No question, it's been a year of learning about gut bugs. While trying to get the right bacteria in the belly has been tied to autoimmune disease, obesity and digestive issues, it is also tied to how you look. Drinking good bacteria foods like kefir and kombucha can help with glowing, healthy skin. I was shocked the day after I made kombucha for the first time to find my skin red carpet ready the next day! Include 6 ounces of these good bacteria drinks 3-4 times per week. (3)
4. Don't Be Fat Phobic
Many of us equate fat with bad, but I find myself reminding my patients that fats are the building blocks of all hormones. When we don't have enough fat, we are often gaunt, sallow or just look tired. Add healthy fats into your daily diet with nuts, seeds like chia and flax, and oils. Coconut oil, olive oil and ghee are may favorites and I will often alternate between these daily.
5. Think Green -- that is Green Smoothies
It is easy to talk about getting 6-8 servings of fruits and vegetables per day but it so hard to put into practice when we are all running around or getting home at 8 p.m. The easiest solution and one I put into practice is to have a green smoothie daily. Any combination works -- just pick 1-2 cups of your favorite greens and add frozen fruit, nuts, seeds, coconut water or just water. While your energy will soar, your skin and hair will glow and you can meet almost half of your veggie intake in one shot.
6. Flush Your Liver
The liver often gets ignored, but it is the powerhouse detoxifier of the body. Drank too much the night before? Thank your liver for cleaning house. But after a point in time, the liver quits -- and as Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have taught us, your skin gets sallow, your eyes lose their brightness and you gain weight. Green smoothies do help flush the liver but try adding apple cider vinegar and water -- diluted in a 1:4 ratio daily to help with liver detoxification. (4)
There is no bigger beauty thief than lack of sleep. In our wired and fired society, getting 8 hours of consistent sleep can be challenging. I will often find that despite my good habits, the nights I skimp on sleep really show in my face. Create an environment for sleep and set good sleep habits. At least five nights out of the week, aim to be in bed at the same time and wake up at the same time. The rhythm of sleep is very important in balancing hormones and repairing skin. (5)
8. Get off the Electronics
If sleep is the beauty thief, then electronics are the sleep thief. Our iPads, iPhones and TVs keep us connected and often prevent us from reaching those perfect sleep routines. Leave all gadgets off and ideally out of your bedroom one hour prior to sleep. You may find yourself more rested and energetic the next day!
Bringing blood flow to your skin, scalp and muscles keeps all these parts of your body lithe and supple. Regular exercise helps keep blood moving, bringing in a burst of fresh oxygen -- necessary for all cells to repair and rebuild. Yoga, acupuncture and massage increase circulation as well. Facial acupuncture or cosmetic acupuncture is one of my personal favorite procedures as it brings energy "up" to the face and scalp, helping build collagen and relaxing any early wrinkles.
Weather, travel and stress are reflected in our skin as the skin starts to build up oil, sebum and dead cells when exposed to harsh elements. Exfoliation, or removing the outer layer of the skin, does wonders for revealing more youthful hidden skin -- try exfoliating using fermented yogurt or kefir on your face for a natural source of exfoliating lactic acid or a honey-turmeric mask can provide natural glycolic acid and heal any skin inflammation.
Follow these 10 steps starting now and I guarantee you can look 5 years younger ( or more) by this spring!