You’ve burned the midnight oil and wake the next morning longing for your trusty latte, the daily antidote to your lack of energy and fuzzy thinking. While a quick fix is guaranteed, the long-term effects of burning the candle at both ends — and all that comes with it — can be detrimental to not only your health but also your skin, hair and nails. Over time, it’s a recipe for what the experts simply call “accelerated ageing”.
Yet it’s the little shifts that can not only contribute to the reversal of damage caused by a life of excess but also help you to look younger, say some experts, who are bucking society’s accepted ageing criteria with a healthy lifestyle that incorporates organic whole foods, clean spring water, gentle exercise and positive thinking. Sixty, it seems, is fast becoming the new 30.
Sexy and 70
For Mimi Kirk, who just a couple of years ago was named PETA’s sexiest vegetarian over 50, 72 is the new 42, thanks largely to her diet and belief that age is simply a number. Her “grow old gracefully” philosophy has caught the attention of not only the world’s media but also her many fans who look to the California girl, with her long, golden locks and smooth skin, for lifestyle tips that will help them follow her youthful lead.
Mimi, who recently released her first book, Live Raw: The Natural Way to Good Health and Timeless Beauty, says green drinks are one of her anti-ageing staples, as is regular detoxing, where she cuts out all fats and oils and allows her body to rest and cleanse with organic juices and light salads — a seven-day “fast” that fosters vibrant energy, clear thinking and great skin.
“I juice for breakfast, eat a large vegie salad with herbs, some lemon or a squeeze of orange or a freshly juiced apple for dressing for lunch,” she says. “For dinner, I make a juice soup and warm it up a little. A spicy tomato soup with cucumbers, sweet red pepper, celery, broccoli and some spices of choice can be a very satisfying meal.”
She adds, “I believe it’s all about what you put in your body, some exercise and staying away from foods like coffee, alcohol, processed foods and, of course, fast or fried foods of any kind — fresh, organic fruits and vegetables will make one’s skin beautiful.”
With her boyfriend Mike Mendell, 53, by her side, Mimi says attitude is an important part of the healthy living process and that the biggest misconception about ageing is that “we have to give in and give up”. “Another misconception is that you have to look and act in a certain way,” she says. “If you change your diet to raw foods and cut out animal products and processed foods, you will feel so much younger and healthier … with all that energy you will forget about your age and not dwell on a few wrinkles here and there. We do not have to give up anything as we age — our looks, our energy or our passions.”
A celebrity trend
It’s a sentiment echoed by Kimberly Snyder, one of Hollywood’s leading nutritionists and yoga teachers, who spends her days on film sets helping the likes of Drew Barrymore, Chris Hemsworth, Teresa Palmer and Owen Wilson to not only detox but shift their everyday diets to one that will give them authentic beauty in the form of lasting energy, inner vibrancy and clear skin.
Snyder, who started her own natural health journey while living in Sydney, has developed an easy-to-achieve lifestyle plan for her celebrity clients that cuts out any need to micro-manage their food intake in order to look their best. It’s a healthy living plan that comes together in her celebrity-endorsed (Dr Mehmet Oz, Hilary Duff, Fergie and others) book, The Beauty Detox Solution.
“Many programs focus on what I call the ‘surface’ evaluations of foods … how many calories, grams of carbs or protein a food has,” she says. “It’s simply not true that women need to micro-manage and count everything they eat in order to look their best. It actually leads to what I call the ‘old skinny’ look, where you can be thin but look much older in your face — what’s the good in being a small size if you look 10 years older?”
There are many foods, Snyder says, that people believe are healthy, but are actually contributing accelerated ageing. “Many of us are stuck in this vicious cycle where the food you think is healthy and helping you look your best is actually ageing you more,” she says. “I bet if you opened up your fridge you’d see foods you think are good for you, like low-fat yoghurt, free-range chicken and cage-free eggs. But when you look in the mirror in the morning — and this is especially the ladies before we put on layers of foundation and concealer — you’ll see just how ageing these foods really are in the form of dull skin, dark circles and fine lines and wrinkles you see staring back at you.”
Her beauty detox program, she explains, encourages a “more natural, holistic approach to food”, in which you eat an abundance of healthy foods that are easy for the body to digest, freeing up your “beauty energy” to fight the effects of ageing and help you lose weight.
“The Beauty Detox Solution is not about specific foods. Rather it teaches a whole different approach to eating that maximises beauty energy and increases the beautifying vitamins and minerals you eat every day,” Kimberly adds. “I’m not asking you to go on a liquid diet for a week that leaves you tired and hungry. You’ll eat real, satisfying and delicious food every day but you’ll also be cleansing on an ongoing basis, which is really the only effective way to have a truly beautiful and healthy body for the long term.”
The healing crisis
It’s not just low energy and dull skin that are the results of an unhealthy lifestyle, says Dr Gabriel Cousens, founder of the Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Arizona, USA. He lists many symptoms that can contribute to ageing before our time, including bad breath, skin manifestations, headaches, weight gain, allergies, fungal infections, gastrointestinal conditions, sciatica, various forms of lower back pain, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, depression and generally feeling unwell.
“These symptoms can all be indications of a system overloaded by mental and physical toxins,” he says. “Because of the toxicity of the inner environment of our bodies and the outer environments we live in, it is safe to say that all of us have some stored toxins in our systems. As one shifts to a healthier diet and away from a flesh-centred one, the stored toxins begin to come out of the tissues.”
Dr Cousens recommends a vegetarian diet, with an emphasis on living foods, as a powerful way to detox. However, he stresses the importance of transitioning slowly away from a mostly “flesh-centred” diet to avoid what’s known as a healing crisis, where the toxins leave the body at a rapid rate, leaving the person feeling worse than when they started.
Speeding up the recovery from a healing crisis is facilitated by daily enemas, plenty of rest, taking in alkalising fluids such as fruit and vegetable juices — which neutralise acid toxins — and maintaining a positive attitude, he explains.
“I often observe in fasting participants that concentration improves, creative thinking expands, depression lifts, insomnia ceases, anxieties fade, minds become more tranquil and the natural joy of living begins to reappear.”
From superfoods to supplements, adding the right nutrition to your diet can put you on the fast track to feeling fabulous. Choosing those foods that turn the clock backwards, rather than accelerate it, is first a matter of knowing your avocados (beautifying) from your carrots (ageing).
According to wholefood and nutrition expert Don Tolman, all foods, as they are grown in nature, possess “superfood” qualities, but there are some that are particularly suited to anti-ageing, thanks to their antioxidants, good fats and all-round hefty nutritional profiles.
Apricots, for example, are loaded with beta-carotene, iron, fibre, vitamin C, several B vitamins and more than 8000 nutritionally beneficial components that not only are beautifying but also aid longevity. “It has been claimed by some cultures that dried apricots are the secret to living to 120 years and beyond,” says Don, adding that when dried, apricots’ nutrients become concentrated.
“This idea comes from the Hunzas, a tribe living in the Himalayas. They eat fresh apricots in season and dry them to eat during their long, cold winter. In the Hunza community, health problems like cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol do not exist!”
Other beneficial foods to add to your diet include:
Avocados: Known widely as Mother Nature’s moisturiser, avocados are brimming with good fats and phytonutrients, which are beneficial when eaten and applied topically.
Flax seeds: Boasting omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the skin, ground flax seeds are also great for their protein, dietary fibre and cell-loving lignins.
Chia seeds: Nutritional powerhouses, the humble and ancient chia boasts anti-ageing benefits, such as keeping bones strong, improving energy, stamina and vision, while helping you absorb vitamins from other foods.
Berries: Blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are packed with the powerful antioxidant vitamin C, which is said to stimulate collagen production.
Walnuts: As good for your skin as they are for your brain, walnuts boast alpha linoleic acid, which contributes to healthy, glowing skin.
Green tea: 200 times more powerful than vitamin E when it comes to fighting free radicals, green tea helps regulate weight while cleansing the body and fostering clear skin.
Kale: Rich in calcium, kale is a must if you want great hair, beautiful skin and strong bones. It’s also full of phytonutrients that protect against excessive sun exposure, and carotenoids that are great for the eyes.
Broccoli: With its protective effects against cancer and other diseases, the sulphoraphane and antioxidant content of broccoli makes it a great general health booster.
Changing your lifestyle, one habit at a time, will more likely lead to long-term success, say many longevity experts, such as David Wolfe. Being kind to yourself as you take steps to rid the toxins from your body is an important part of the process and will make the changes feel more like a journey of discovery rather than a diet of restriction.
Here are some simple habits you can add to your everyday routine that, over time, can make big changes to how you feel and look.
• Do daily body brushing before you shower in the morning to slough away dead skin cells and promote blood circulation.
• Use only organic, natural cosmetics on your skin — your body’s largest organ. Whatever we slather on the outside ends up on the inside.
• Get some sun time, sans sunscreen. While excess sun may not always be ideal, it’s important to spend some time outdoors, up to 15 minutes a day, without any chemical lotions in order to get your daily dose of vitamin D, which helps the body absorb calcium.
• Add fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kefir to your plate to ensure your body gets all-important doses of good bacteria, which not only promote smooth, vibrant skin but also help your internal organs maintain good health.
• Take time out in nature to de-stress. Soaking in natural mineral pools is also a great way to unwind and give your skin an instant and detoxifying boost.
Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie
1½ cups water
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
3–4 stalks celery
½ head of a large bunch or ¾ small bunch of spinach
1 apple, cored & chopped
1 pear, cored & chopped
Juice of ½ fresh lemon
⅓ bunch cilantro (stems OK)
⅓ bunch parsley (stems OK)
Add the water and chopped head of romaine to the blender. Starting the blender at low speed, mix until smooth. Gradually moving to higher speeds, add the celery, apple and pear. Add the cilantro and parsley if you are choosing to add them. Add the banana and lemon juice last.
This smoothie tastes yummy. The fruit and lemon cut right though the grass taste. Feel free to mix and match different greens and fruits, as these two specific food groups combine well.
Use all organic ingredients if possible.
Mimi Kirk’s Beautifying Kale Salad
1 bunch kale, stems removed, ribbon cut
1 cucumber, peeled & cut in small chunks
½ avocado, cut in chunks
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
Dash of gluten-free tamari
1 small clove of garlic, crushed
Black pepper to taste
Salt to taste if needed
Combine all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and blend with a wire whisk. Pour over salad and mix well.
Use all organic ingredients if possible.