Being a dermatologist, I am always helping my patients to make their skin become the healthiest it can be. Sometimes, it is about treating a bad rash or getting acne under control. At other times, it is about excising and curing a skin cancer. Helping my patients maintain optimum skin health is always my goal. That’s my job. The flip side of my specialty is based on the fact that younger-looking skin is often considered healthier skin. Achieving this more youthful appearance quickly and noninvasively is the cosmetic side of my practice. I spend an equal amount of time injecting Botox®, Juvederm®, Kybella, or Voluma, and almost instantly erasing years off a patient’s face. And of course, let’s not forget Adelle and her expert skills with Nordlys, SilkPeel, Ultherapy, and CoolSculpting, which literally can help shed wrinkles, age spots, unwanted hair, and fat. But did you know that there are things you can do yourself, in your own home, on your own time, to turn back the clock from inside out and outside in? They may seem incredibly simple, but they are extraordinarily impactful.
Here are my 20 ways to look, feel, and actually be younger and healthier.
- Use sunscreen.
Sun and tanning booths are some of the biggest “agers” of your skin. If the skin-cancer risk doesn’t scare you, the wrinkles should. Consistent use of a sunscreen with an SPF of 45 or higher not only can prevent skin cancer, but it is also the best anti-aging ingredient for your skin, so please use it every day.
- Apply retinoids.
Retinoids are the true heavy-lifters in skin rejuvenation and skincare. These molecules are brilliant multi-taskers. They increase cell-turnover to reveal healthy skin, boost collagen production and prevent its breakdown, reverse sun damage, and improve hydration. What does this mean for your skin? It means less wrinkles, less sagging, fewer sun and age spots, more even tone and texture, less breakouts, and more glowing skin. Ask any dermatologist to choose just one anti-aging ingredient and the answer will be retinoids.
This one may seem silly to most, but take it from your dermatologist: moisturizing the skin not only gives you a more youthful glow, it also helps your skin to maintain a healthy barrier, protecting your body from the outside world and environment. When the skin, which, by the way, is your body’s largest organ, is dry, this barrier becomes impaired and can be more easily invaded by viruses, bacteria, fungi, yeast, and chemicals. Your skin’s number-one job is to protect your body from the outside world. Be kind to your skin, help it to do its best job, and moisturize.
- Don’t smoke.
We all know that smoking causes heart disease and emphysema, but did you know it also causes skin to develop deep wrinkling, yellowing, and a leathery texture? It literally robs your skin of oxygen. Let vanity win out. Stop smoking.
- Sleep more.
Not only does the chronic lack of sleep age your skin, it also increases your risk for heart disease, causes you to gain weight, impairs your judgment, and may even double your risk of death from all causes. Lack of sleep is a scary one. This is one that I am working on myself.
- Laugh more.
People who laugh more not only look more attractive, but laughing more decreases your stress hormones and boosts your immune system. Plus it’s just more fun to smile and laugh, than to be unhappy, isn’t it?
This one is a no-brainer, but let me just review this for those of you who have been living under a rock for the last century. Daily exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, and depression. It also can alleviate anxiety, improve memory, and prevent cognitive decline. Plus exercise boosts the release of your natural endorphins, putting you in the state of mind that can be addicting. Have you heard of the “runner’s high?” This is the real deal, and this kind of addiction is one that is good for your health.
- Floss your teeth daily.
Everyone knows that flossing is good for you, not only to keep your pearly whites healthy and reduce halitosis, but it also prevents periodontal disease. And a beautiful, white smile is very youthful. But did you know that gum disease may increase your risk for heart disease? I think we can conclude that flossing your teeth daily is a very good thing. Plus your dentist will be so proud of you.
- Eat more fruits, veggies, and fiber.
This one is truly self-explanatory. Getting your vitamins and nutrients the natural way through foods can’t be beat. Plus, keeping your colon healthy with fiber in your diet is an absolute must. Not only does fiber lower your risk for colon cancer, it can also lower your cholesterol, blood sugar levels, and your risk for heart attack and stroke.
- Drink red wine or alcohol.
Moderation is key here, but moderate alcohol consumption may reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. Plus if your drink of choice is red wine, the resveratrol is extra-protective.
- Take a multivitamin.
This one is a moderation thing, too. Ironically, taking mega doses of supplements may actually increase your mortality. In terms of vitamins, more is not better, but a daily multivitamin is safe and may be beneficial. And, don’t forget to get your Vitamin D levels checked. Most of us Americans are low in this one.
- Drink more coffee and tea.
These are my drinks of choice (besides good old H2O and alcohol) and they are very powerful health boosters. Coffee may reduce your risk for dementia, Alzheimer’s, Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Tea may be even more powerful, and boosts your health through potent antioxidants, namely polyphenols, which may decrease your risk of cancer. Plus, you can drink a lot of coffee and tea without much of a negative effect, as long as you avoid hitting the sugar and cream too heavily. Throw caution and moderation to the wind and keep drinking your coffee and tea.
- Consume more fat, the healthy kind that is.
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed, are the healthy fats we should look for. Consuming more omega-3 fatty acids helps to reduce your triglyceride levels, depression, Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia and may improve joint pain and stiffness. If salmon, nuts, and seeds are not your thing, then you can get your extra omegs-3’s just as easily by taking fish-oil supplements.
- Lose the belly fat.
Losing the pounds is definitely a healthy thing to do, but most recently, studies have found that your belly fat and your waist size seem to be more important barometers of health. Even being of normal weight may not matter if your waistline is on the hefty side. Having a waistline less than 35 inches for women and 40 inches for men reduces your risk of diabetes, heart disease and dying from it, and cancer. Another way to monitor your waistline is to keep it less than half your height. A healthy waistline, combined with a healthy weight and BMI may be the fundamental triad for heart health.
- Learn something new.
The process of engaging your mind with a new activity or task is one that not only may be fun, but research has shown that it improves memory that is sustained and may even stave off dementia.
- Be creative.
Being creative is one that engages many parts of your cortex, so it is easy to see how healthy it can be. It reduces stress, boosts confidence, and engages parts of your brain that you may not normally recruit on a daily level. Expressing your creativity can come in many shapes and forms, like dancing, singing, painting, gardening, and cooking. And taking a class in a creative endeavor extends the health benefits because the social component is so valuable. I am a strong proponent of the creative arts and practice it in many forms during my free time as much as I can.
- Spend time with friends.
This one is an essential for all humans, young and old. Friendship, love, and emotional connection are what drive the human experience, and without them, our physical being can suffer irreparably. Make friendships and relationships a priority, and you will never regret it.
- Forgive others and forgive yourself.
This one is a very hard one because sometimes holding onto the negative emotions is the only thing that is connecting you to another in a relationship. But remember, forgiving is the best gift to give others and to yourself most of all. Let it go.
- Eliminate the negative.
Eliminating the negative may represent itself in many ways. The negative may be a person or a relationship. Maybe it’s a big one like a job. Maybe it’s a feeling, a memory, or a state of mind. Maybe it’s your messy desk. Or maybe it’s as mundane as an ugly armchair in your home. Whatever it is, it is within your power to make it right, view it differently, make a change, shift your perspective, choose positivity, or simply walk away and take a breather. It will be like a great weight is being lifted from your shoulders. It is so hard to do, but can be entirely transforming.
Meditating is more powerful than you think, but also easier than you think. All it takes is about 10 minutes a day. It is about turning your brain off and focusing on your breath. Choose a quiet time and place, sit comfortably, focus inward, keep your mind still, relax, close your eyes gently, keep a soft smile on your face, and breathe. Meditation can reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue, and improve cognitive function. I must admit I haven’t tried this one yet, but it is high on my list of making it a daily habit.
Live young and stay healthy…
— Dr. H20 Ways to Look, Feel, and Be Younger and Healthier