When we ask, “what is that could give me back the beauty and the energy of my youth?” we must be ready to make an effort from the point where we lack strength to do that. This is because changing our lifestyle demands that our brain and body get used to new patterns and this needs extra energy. At the same time, old, automated habits are very easy to keep. If we have some bad habits, it demands an even bigger effort to leave these behind and move towards the best version of ourselves. What I want to remind you of, is that we are constantly moving and we can choose whether we move towards illness or wellness. Not making a choice is a choice of its own.
As we live our fast-paced lives, it’s easy to forget what is happening around us and how we are actually affected by socio-cultural changes. For example, the European Commission (2014) predicts that approximately after four decades our population will have twice as many elderly people as children. This is in line with a message from Newcastle University, Campus for Aging and Vitality (2019) that we can expect dramatic gains in life expectancy. Over the next 20 years, we will already see a tremendous population growth in UK from 1.7 million to 3.7 million elderly people, to take just one example. Also worth mentioning is that the number of people living with aging syndromes such as sarcopenia (the loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength) and frailty (lack of reserve and resilience across whole body system), is set to expand rapidly (Newcastle University, 2019). And two thirds of those aged 65 or older will suffer from multimorbidity (H. Murad, 2010). This means having several chronic diseases or other conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, arthritis, gastric reflux and depression or anxiety. The number of medications that we might need is mind-boggling. Who will pay for our frailty?
It is a fact that people age; the question is whether we want to understand the importance of proactive health care and start with purposeful preventive self-care – self-optimization if you wish. I’m talking about the best investment we can do to live the fullest life. If you knew that you would live until the age of 90 or even 120, would you imagine yourself with sarcopenia, multimorbidity and frailty or would you rather see yourself as a happy grandparent travelling around the world and enjoying taking care of your grandchildren. There are many changes that happen as we age which change our lives and the dreams we once had, yet I find three, in particular, the most important to start taking care of immediately: memory, energy and overall wellness (wellbeing plus fitness).
There are many new discoveries like placebo medications, microdosing of psychedelics, conscious fasting, DHEA and genetic manipulations, as well technologies like virtual reality, AI and all sorts of wellness home gadgets and wearables. With each year, these give us more and more possibilities for better self-optimization.
The feeling of wellbeing and high levels of energy give you so much more vivid experiences in live, as well as a better ability to be present and actively participate. There is a reason why the beauty industry is booming, whether we want to admit it or not. Yet the most important thing will always be to be at peace with yourself, as beauty starts from within. In the same way that food affects our skin, whether we exercise influences our posture and has an effect on our energy levels. Furthermore if our minds are calm we are more able to perceive others and be compassionate.
So what is the essence of youthfulness? There are roughly two options – a classic healthy lifestyle includes a program based on research on healthy aging, while an anti-aging lifestyle goes further by promoting all possible means to diminish the signs of aging, (A. Stuckelberger, 2008). For example, as Biohackers would do – check out that trend from my last interview: Self-Optimization With Anna Bjurstam, VP of Six Senses Spas – and reduce known factors like stress, malnutrition or depression. We need to evaluate where we are standing now with our own wellbeing – if it is the anti-aging- or better aging program we need. To understand and make it simple, if you are getting close to a disease or falling ill, it makes more sense to get your health back at first with the simpler classic healthy lifestyle implementation, and from there on you could start with optimizing your energy levels and appearance with an anti-aging lifestyle, in order to regain your most youthful self. You can find the basics from here: Anti-Aging Lifestyle Keeps You Young For Longer.
The essence of youthfulness relies on an anti-aging lifestyle, which means going further than a normal healthy lifestyle would suggest, and using all means to diminish the signs and feelings of aging, in order to optimize own overall wellness and be at our peak performance. That can mean that in your forties with all your wisdom gained, you can still benefit from looking ten years younger and feeling the energy of a younger person.
The journey requires commitment and willpower. At the beginning, it can be hard to get your menu healthy, to start reading food labels, to know what vitamins to take with what and when, to find the right exercise routines, to figure out your skin needs and to organize your home so that your sleep quality can be at its best. All of this also depends on our mental health, which means we need to figure out relationships, fix problems of past, deal with anxiety, depression or even chronic negativity. So the list goes on and on, though I wouldn’t give further recommendations because every human is unique and our problems are so complex, so one knows better what is the best for oneself.
If you design your anti-aging lifestyle based on articles or other scientific resources, it’s important to always double-check and ask for second opinions from experts such as nutritionists, doctors, physiotherapists, dermatologists, beauticians, trainers and psychologists. This way you’re on the safe side and making sure you don’t harm yourself.
The motivation to take the path towards a youthful you it is not only that it is sustainable for yourself, but it’s also good for the society. According to Stuckelberger (2008) if we could make major headway in eliminating unhealthy lifestyles and behaviours, the cost savings and health-related benefits to individuals and to our society in the near future would be tremendous.
It will be exciting to see where we’ll head, as over the last decade there have been huge steps forward in bioscience and regenerative medicine, including gene therapy, stem cell research and organ regeneration, along with small molecule therapies. The anti-aging or youthfulness pill might be here sooner than we think. But let’s not forget that when are able to control our regeneration process from ageing point, it will add not only years to our lives, but potentially have significant applications in addressing chronic diseases. That could be a remarkable, positive change for increasing elderly populations.
To sum up, I would like to refer to Robert Greene, the author of The Laws of Human Nature, who says: “short-term thinking is hardwired into our system; we are built to respond to what is immediate and to seek out instant gratification” – which is not suited to the complex world we now live in. So we don’t miss the bigger picture, I hope the ones “mindfully meditating” in the present and reading my article will also open their eyes to deepen and widen their perspective, as well as practice the anti-aging lifestyle, with a long-term purpose in mind, to find their personal essence of youthfulness.