We all wonder how to look younger when we're approaching menopause--or right in the thick of it. After all, the extra belly fat, fatigue, and skin changes associated with aging can wreak havoc on your appearance, not to mention your self-esteem. No one ever said this whole growing older thing was easy, that's for sure!
But with some proactive lifestyle changes, you can feel happier, healthier, and younger even as you age. Here are six simple strategies that allow you to turn back the clock—naturally.
Fat-melter: Matcha tea. Your brown fat’s ability to burn glucose to produce heat slowly declines over the years—and by age 50, at least half of us are battling creeping weight gain as a result. But Korean research suggests sipping two 8-oz. cups of matcha tea daily (matcha is a fine green tea powder made from shade-grown leaves) can correct this metabolic slow-down, helping you shed twice as much weight and four times more belly fat than if you’d gone tea-free. According to the study authors, matcha contains three times more epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) than green tea bags, and EGCG switches on glycolysis—the burning of glucose for fuel—inside brown fat cells. Call it the perfect afternoon weight loss snack!
Wrinkle-eraser: A brisk stroll. No need for pricey lotions or Botox—just grab your sneakers and go for a stroll! Exercise stimulates the release of human growth hormone (HGH)—a powerful anti-aging compound that rejuvenates both the epidermal and dermal layers of the skin, says endocrinologist Diana Schwarzbein, M.D., author of Menopause Power. Aim for 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily, and Cleveland Clinic researchers say you could erase eight years—or more!—off your skin’s appearance.
Energizer: a 5-minute meditation break. At least 77 percent of us feel our energy levels and stamina slowly declining as we age. The reason? Your brain’s ability to produce GABA drops after age 40—and GABA is the neurotransmitter that gives you calm, steady energy. The good news: Studies at Boston University School of Medicine suggest meditating for as little as five minutes will increase your GABA levels 27 percent, helping you feel calm, yet energized for up to three hours at a stretch (meditation activates glutamate decarboxylase—the brain enzyme that produces GABA). To do: Sit so your neck is supported and relaxed, close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths, focusing only on the air flowing in and out of your body.
Memory booster: Computer time. Tired of wondering where you left your keys or why you just walked into the kitchen? A little computer time can help. A Harvard study suggests spending one hour daily using a computer for fun tasks—whether you’re organizing photos, researching your family tree or sending messages to loved ones—cuts your risk of cognitive decline 42 percent, revs focus, concentration and memory in as little as five days, plus improves your odds of living a long life! Computer use stimulates release of focus-enhancing acetylcholine in the frontal lobe of the brain—and if you’re enjoying your computer time, your acetylcholine release is maximized. Tip: If your daily routine already includes fun screen time—yet your memory is starting to lapse—you can get an additional acetylcholine boost by spending 30 minutes daily reading a good book.
Sleep deepener: A nighttime mask. Your production of sleep-inducing melatonin drops rapidly after age 50—largely because your brain becomes much more sensitive to incoming light (which switches off the pineal gland enzymes that manufacture melatonin). But make sure you’re sleeping in pitch black (by wearing a sleep mask) and Cornell University researchers say you’ll double your pineal gland’s melatonin production the first night, helping you drift off 20 minutes sooner, plus sleep as soundly as you did in your 30s.
Ache ender: Eggs this way. Aches and pains don’t have to be part of aging! A study in the Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging suggests that a daily 500 mg dose of natural eggshell membrane (NEM)—a supplement derived from the shells of chicken eggs—cuts joint pain as much as 72 percent and increases mobility 42 percent, often in as little as one week! “Eggshell membranes are rich in glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid and other compounds that reduce inflammation and pain, plus encourage healing of joint cartilage,” says Joshua Axe, DNM, author of The Gut Repair Cookbook. Brand recommendation: Healthy Origins’ Eggshell Membrane, $17 for 60 capsules, iHerb.com.