So in keeping with our current “bring me all the things, and make it happen yesterday” culture, what are our top tips to make you feel like you’re gonna live longer, but that will give you the kicks right here, right now? Shine on you crazy diamonds…
Inside Out and Outside in
There’s no getting away from ageing skin, and the awful mirror moments it causes. None of us are immune to the pain that comes from putting our priorities on looking good, and feeling let down when the reflection staring back at us doesn’t match up. But our skin is a beautiful thing, shaped by the years of joy and toil that make up our human experience - and if we can latch onto that idea, whilst still doing our best to support the membrane that protects us from birth to death, then we don’t have to feel at odds with “the man in the mirror”.
In The Hopsack we try to bring the emphasis for anti-ageing initiatives back to where it all starts - on the inside. Sure yes we have some incredible serums that will support collagen production, and help the skin to retain vitality and a healthy glow, but without doing the deeper work it’s all just a bit...vapid??!
Gaining Water Losing Weight
There’s nothing sexy about this tip - actually that’s not true - the likes of Evian, Perrier and the rest have spent fortunes making a reasonably successful fist of getting us to glug more of their tasteless clear liquid with writing on the front. And now we all do it, right? Wrong! Nine times out of ten, people think they’re getting enough, but the devil is in the details here. We want you getting 2 litres per day minimum, plus an extra glass for every cup of coffee you’re drinking and 2 extra cups if you’re active and sweating it out or just on a muggy day in August like this one!
Why is Water Such a Big Deal
So all those too too skinny models in the water campaigns might for once have been correctly portraying a life lived with plus liquids - the more water we take on board the easier a time our body has clearing out metabolic wastes...I bet myself a tenner I wouldn’t be able to get away without using the word “detox” here, DOH! Water also contains the vital electrolyte minerals that facilitate every nerve impulse throughout our body. We literally can’t function without the stuff.
When we’re born we are made of 90% water - and our body dessicates over a lifetime of use and abuse, eventually giving up the fight with water levels of 65-70%. The difference between thirsty and not thirsty can be as little as half a percent of water fluctuation in our body, so it’s clear that our body is really finely tuned to hydration levels - we ignore it at our peril! If you are ever lucky enough to have live blood cell analysis done, you’ll see the difference between hydrated and dehydrated blood - the latter shows up in clumps of red blood cells - and those little guys have to squeeze through micro-capillaries an eighth of their own size, so if they’re all huddled together, it ain’t gonna go to plan!
You can’t ignore the basic tenet of movement. It’s hammered home enough in the media that we all now have some understanding that a life spent desk and/or couch bound, is not a life well lived, and it’s not one in which our body thrives. Our physiology likes challenge - it NEEDS challenge actually. So whilst we don’t love that muscle bound, bro’ science, gym rhetoric... They have one thing right - when it comes to the need to move - there ain’t no shortcuts. But actually are there…?
Everything we do in life can be treated as a workout, if we approach it without shame and a dose of creativity and curiosity. Even taking that couch for a second - how’s about not allowing yourself to hit the remote on the telly until you sit down and stand up five times? Run up the stairs instead of walking. Push the lawnmower with aplomb. Treat your five year old like a kettlebell...well perhaps check that one out with your partner first and invest in some safety gear...but basically the gym membership can wait if we’re willing to explore our approach to our habitual environment. There’s so many opportunities for movement that we just might be passing by...
10 minute bodyweight workout
Blood Sugars AGE's
It’s so ironic that AGE’s are the acronym for one of the primary molecules that causes premature aging, Advanced Glycation End products are a result of sugar metabolism that leads to hardening of the arteries, and indeed all tissues through cross linking of collagen fibres. Collagen tubules run throughout our body and serve to hold pretty much our entire body together in this amazing webbed lattice, channeling hydration and cradling our organs. This amazing network has a few challenges, especially as we age and our body suffers our modern diet too too rich in free sugars. When these sugars combine with proteins we end up with AGE’s - and the damage from these little particles goes way beyond stiffening our lovely plump youthful skin - AGE’s are indicated in all sorts of diseases from heart disease to cancer, so anything we can do to prevent their accumulation is a good plan. First plan - stop combining fats with sugar. We won’t go into an exhaustive list here as that would be, er, exhausting, suffice to say that doughnuts are out.
Sex Hormones - Where the Magic Happens... no really!
So sex hormones are great for lots of things, including but not restricted to, our actual sex lives. For both guys and gals, our body’s store of and ability to synthesise sex hormones forms the back bone of our continued ability to make new tissue, to prevent muscle loss in older age, and to give us fuel for the fight. One of the biggest predictors for “all cause mortality” is the preservation of muscle mass and bone density - and it doesn’t just add years to our life, it puts life in our years too - making for more supple and mobile joints, more responsive adrenal glands, and generally a more lively mind. You’ve heard it referred to as your ‘mojo’ probably - in traditional chinese medicine they refer to it as your ‘jing’ energy - your sexual energy, and they take it REALLY seriously. Your jing energy is your spark, your vitality, the twinkle in your eye.
Obviously as we age sex hormones decline, that’s a fact of life, but they don’t stop being produced. And it’s up to us to throw them the life ring and help our sex hormones stay afloat. Herbs such as maca, ashwagandha, panax ginseng, damiana, saw palmetto and others all have a long history of traditional use for supporting libido, either through assisting the production of or preventing the oxidation and breakdown of sex hormones. And our diet plays a huge role here too - fats and cholesterol form the foundation of hormones, so our forty-plus year habit of demonising fats and cholesterol in our foods certainly hasn’t been one that’s helped our sex hormone production. So to reverse that trend think to include - walnuts, avocados, eggs, oily fish, chia and flax seeds - all the usual suspects!
3 magic words - Glutathione, CoQ10, Ashwagandha
We haven’t even touched on the vast bag of tricks that we offer in The Hopsack in terms of supplemental supports - so here’s a quick rundown of some of our favourite key supplements that will preserve our cells through the ravages of the daily grind.
Glutathione - we have this constant interplay in our body between oxidation and reduction (that needs a blog all to itself so stay tuned!), but basically when we make energy we make waste - we can think of it like lighting a fire in our cells - the fuel burns, and heat (energy) but also smoke (polluting waste) are produced. The smoke is the thing we need to worry about. And glutathione (along with another enzyme, super oxide dismutase) are the fire fighters that quench the flames. Glutathione protects our cells from damage and forms a crucial part of liver detoxification, an organ we really need to look after if we want to live a long, healthy life - as it’s quietly working away in the background disarming all the toxins that come from inside and outside our body, that damage our cells, trigger inflammation, and generally serve to shorten our lifespan.
Magnesium - if there’s a molecule out there that’s going to help you climb out of a deep sofa in your 90’s then magnesium is the one. As we’ve said our body is basically drying out as we age - and as we dry out we also stiffen. Hardening is a process that is anathema to living. It’s the analogy we can apply to pretty much every area of our lives. But to bring it back to magnesium for a second, it’s your best friend in this situation as it serves to soften all the crucial tissues that allow blood and nutrients to flow to tissues, assisting healing, preventing healing and supporting energy production. Yes. A dog is man’s best friend. And magnesium helps him throw that stick to keep the dog happy.
CoQ10 - Every single cell needs this co-enzyme in vast quantities every day to keep them ticking over, and our body recycles our stores of CoQ10 pretty effectively along with our dietary supply - BUT - put the heart under stress from lack of sleep, dealing with too many emails, running up a mountain or whatever, and the demands for CoQ10 go through the roof. Our heart has so much work to do, and when you really think about it as an organ that NEVER RESTS...it’s quite incredible. So, if we all want to give our heart the love it deserves we need to put CoQ10 at the top of our shopping list as a crucial anti-aging tool.
Ashwagandha - this is just the bees knees. I remember first reading about it before it leapt to popularity in the last 5 years or so and seeing all the list of traditional applications that it had in Indian herbal medicine...it just seemed impossible...but then studies started to emerge and the science started catching up with the folk wisdom. Ashwagandha helps to access our limbic stress response, gently but effectively modulating cortisol levels, and thus helping to raise our coping capacity for dealing with stressful situations. It does so much more than this but just one other tidbit is that it has recently been found to trigger the production of the same protective molecule that our body produces during extreme heat exposure in saunas - heat shock proteins. These little guys are signalling molecules that tell our body to protect itself from life threatening situations. They help us to mobilise crucial antioxidant compounds such as glutathione and get it where it needs to be to do the work of preventing DNA damage and all that fun stuff that keeps us lively in our bodies.
So that’s all the inside work covered, you all have the knowledge now so we’re looking forward to seeing you all taking on marathons in your 80’s - stay tuned for our follow up piece on the best of the cosmetic tips and tricks to feed your skin from the outside in.