Looking for a way to stay young, healthy, vibrant and sexy? Then you’ve come to the right place.
However ill, sluggish or unfit you’re feeling, I know you can recover — because I’ve been there too. Eighteen years ago, a devastating attack of rheumatoid arthritis left me needing hospice care, with doctors saying that even if I was lucky enough to survive, I would never walk again.
Instead of giving up, I set out to optimise my recovery by changing my whole lifestyle: my diet, the way I exercised, my connection with the world around me and my mindset.
As I explained in Femail magazine last week, what I discovered didn’t just dramatically improve my life. It has helped me feel and look younger, too.
Jayney Goddard, 55, who has the 'biological age' of a woman in her late 20s, spoke to experts about simple ways that to slow the ageing process (file image)
I am 55 but have calculated that I have the ‘biological age’ — based on my flexibility, skin elasticity, energy and mental acuity, among other indicators — of a woman in her late 20s. But while I use natural, holistic techniques, mine is not some pie-in-the-sky manifesto of wishful thinking. My approaches are backed by proper scientific research, and everything I recommend really works.
In short, this is your most direct route to long-lasting health: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual. Here are some simple ways you can slow the ageing process and even start reversing your biological clock . . .
THRILL TO THE POWER OF ORGASMS
The health-enhancing qualities of an active sex life are often overlooked, yet it may even help you look younger.
Dr David Weeks, a consultant neuropsychologist at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, ran a ten-year study that found an improved sex life can make a person look four to seven years younger.
He says: ‘A good sex life leads to greater contentment, significant reductions in stress, better sleep and, in men, an increase in testosterone output.’
He questioned more than 3,500 volunteers and concluded that genetic factors were only 25 per cent responsible for youthful looks, while behaviour accounted for 75 per cent — and one of the main behavioural factors was sex in a long-term relationship.
But you don’t have to be in a relationship to reap anti-ageing benefits. Research has shown that no matter how an orgasm comes about, it is a profoundly youth-promoting phenomenon.
One hypothesis is that orgasms stimulate brain-cell regeneration, contributing to enhanced performance in memory tests. Sex also decreases the production of cortisol, a hormone associated with higher levels of inflammation — a bodily response that is linked to ageing.
Consultant neuropsychologist Dr David Weeks, from the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, revealed a good sex life can significantly reduce stress to help you maintain a youthful look (file image)
WOW! LET YOURSELF BE AWESTRUCK
A lot of research has been done in recent years on the effect of positive emotions, such as awe, on our health. Researchers have looked at our responses to beauty, such as views of the Grand Canyon, walking through a beautiful forest or seeing works of art such as the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
One study found that such stimuli provoke positive emotional responses that led to volunteers producing lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, the hormonal messengers that tell our bodies to ramp up our inflammatory response so our immune system will work harder.
This immune response is a natural process that happens to protect you when your body believes it is under attack. But when it occurs excessively and repeatedly, for example because you are under a lot of stress, chronic ‘inflammation’ has been shown to underlie almost every condition that we associate with ageing, from wrinkles to lifestyle-related cancers and even Alzheimer’s disease.
So if staring at a beautiful view can help to damp down inflammation, that’s a pretty powerful tool to soothe and anti-age your system.
Dr Jennifer Stellar, who led the study, explained: ‘Our findings demonstrate that positive emotions are associated with the markers of good health.’
Researchers have discovered looking at beautiful views such as the Grand Canyon can be beneficial for relieving stress on the immune system (file image)
TAKE A DEEP BREATH, RELAX AND REVIVE
Breathing properly is one of the most important steps to staying young, as it gives instant relaxation and rejuvenation.
It’s an effective way of handling stress, which is one of the most aggressively ageing lifestyle factors there is.
A recent study compared 39 healthy, pre-menopausal women who looked after a child with a severe chronic illness with 19 mothers of a similar age with healthy children.
Both groups completed a stress questionnaire and measurements were made of their telomere length (telomeres are like caps on the ends of our chromosomes that shorten as we age). The mothers who cared for seriously ill children had much shorter telomeres and were, biologically speaking, between nine and 17 years older than mothers of healthy children.
And while stressful life events are beyond our control, we do have more power over how we choose to respond to stress than we often realise.
In particular, Taoist longevity breathing is powerfully holistic — the techniques have been used for millennia. Studies back up the health benefits and some go so far as to say it helps skin look more youthful.
Studies suggest the health benefits of breathing properly go beyond causing the skin to look more youthful (file image)
Ideally, try to devote at least 10-15 minutes a day to this practice. It is particularly good at the end of the day to help you sleep.
UNLEASH YOUR INNER GLOW
Rosehip oil has been shown to improve the appearance of skin and scars, as it contains a special form of vitamin A.
Studies of its use on post-surgical scars at the University Hospital of Seville produced results that researchers said ‘must be considered excellent’.
Studies suggest rosemary oil can be used as treatment for hair loss, meanwhile rosehip oil is able to work wonders on the appearance of skin and scars (file image)
Rosehip oil can be bought at most health food stores: follow the package instructions, as each preparation differs. I use a serum twice a day and have had great results.
Meanwhile, rosemary oil has been shown to be an effective treatment for some hair loss. For glowing, healthy hair, add 10-12 drops of organic rosemary essential oil to a bottle of organic baby shampoo, and mix well. Lather as usual, then let it sit for two minutes before washing off.
JUICE CAN MAKE YOU A SMOOTHIE
Green vegetable juices are particularly useful to boost health, they provide a lot of concentrated nutrition that we can utilise easily, and as most of the fibre has been removed; the nutrients in juices are absorbed very quickly.
If you want to use fruits in a drink, I suggest you use them in smoothies as all the fibre is retained, which leads to slower digestion and eliminates a sugar spike.
When I drink plenty of fresh organic green juices, I feel and look brighter and more energetic. I have even noticed facial lines disappearing!
I recommend using organic produce — juicing concentrates foods, so while you are getting lots of nutrients, any toxins from sprayed or chemically treated produce would also be concentrated.
Drink your juice as soon as it is made, to preserve its nutrient value. And consider designating one day a week as a fasting day, where you only (or mainly) consume juices and water. This ‘rests’ your digestive system, allowing healing. It also reduces your calorie intake, which can help to slow biological ageing.
Jayney recommends drinking green vegetable juice to boost health, she says drinking the beverage has helped her own facial lines to fade (file image)
To make an easy juice, blend a handful of fresh parsley, a tart apple, two carrots and a stick of celery. It’s best not to drink this late at night, as the parsley will give you ridiculously high levels of energy.
SUPERFIBRE FOR A WASP WAIST
Inulin — a type of fibre available in powder form as well as in some plants — is very interesting from an anti-ageing perspective. Found in raw chicory and dandelion leaves, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic and leeks, it has been shown to help reduce fat around the middle, which tends to accumulate as we age.
I recently started adding a scoop of inulin — which can be bought from health food shops — to my daily smoothies and have found that I have, without changing any other aspects of my diet or exercise programme, lost 3cm (1.2in) from my waist in a month. Of course, that’s just my experience, but it’s a pretty fast result!
WALKING BOOSTS ‘YOUTH HORMONE’
Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is sometimes called ‘the youth hormone’, as it is produced in higher levels when we are growing and falls at around the age of 20.
In your 30s and beyond, levels of HGH continue to peter out, which triggers a phenomenon called ‘somatopause’ — part of what drives the ageing process. We become more lethargic and the dreaded ‘middle-age spread’ sets in, making it all the more important to exercise as we get older.
The longer you can keep your body producing higher levels of HGH, the longer you will experience robust health and strength — and the most effective way to do this is through exercise, especially high-intensity exercise, because this causes our bodies to begin to produce amounts of HGH comparable to those of a much younger person.
Jayney encourages her clients to walk for a minimum of 20 minutes a day, she says the longer you can keep your body producing higher levels of HGH, the longer you will experience robust health (file image)
I also encourage my clients to walk for at least 20-30 minutes, a minimum of four times a week.
Walking is one of the most potent age-rewind strategies available to us — and best of all, it is free and easy to do.
BE LEAN AND WIRY AT ANY STAGE OF LIFE
Carrying too much fat poses a major risk to your health and ages you fast. Developing an improved muscle-to-fat ratio lowers the risk of all chronic, lifestyle-related and totally preventable diseases.
While it used to be thought that we can’t grow muscle once we get older — or that muscle growth decreases — this has been shown to be untrue. A group of people in their 90s were asked to exercise for 12 weeks. Their muscle mass and power both increased, proving we can gain strength at any age.
The best way to build lean muscle is to do resistance training, including lifting weights, which I do.
Ask a fitness expert for advice on what will best suit your needs.
Jayney (pictured) recommends following a plant-based, wholefood diet to prevent premature ageing and to reduce chronic inflammation
THE EASY WAY TO EAT YOURSELF YOUNGER
A study this month found poor diets kill almost 90,000 people a year in Britain. As the study leader said: ‘We are what we eat.’
Among the most devastatingly ageing foods are refined sugars such as sweets, white bread, cakes and white rice. These promote glycation — excessive binding of glucose to protein in the presence of oxygen — which is linked to various forms of ageing.
For example, it causes proteins in our bodies to stiffen. It can affect organ function and cause skin to wrinkle as collagen stiffens, breaking and collapsing. I advocate reducing your intake of all animal proteins, including meat, dairy and processed foods. Instead, eat a variety of fruits and vegetables — particularly green veggies, and include complex carbohydrates in whole foods such as short-grain brown rice, sweet potatoes and quinoa, which are packed with vitamins and minerals.
Organic foods are richer in nutrients and antioxidants, which can combat so-called free radicals, molecules that can attack healthy cells.
The healthiest diet in the long term is a plant-based, wholefood one. Evidence overwhelmingly points to this as the best way to reduce chronic inflammation, so preventing premature ageing.
Rewind Your Body Clock, by Jayney Goddard, is published by Watkins, £14.99. To order a copy for £11.99(20 per cent discount), go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 0844 571 0640. Free p&p on orders over £15. Spend £30 on books and get free premium delivery. Offer valid until April 18, 2019.
Adapted by Clare Goldwin