We’re all aging. In our state of reality, the passing of time is inevitable. It’s our choice whether or not we can do so healthfully, and with grace.The modern world is not set up for beautifully slow, natural aging. We are constantly faced with environmental stressors and toxins that are a breeding ground for oxidative damage and cellular breakdown. Holistic nutritionist, chef, and founder of Soul Wellness Method, Shauna Faulisi, is well-versed in optimizing the way we move through life with longevity in mind.
Faulisi lives, breathes, and exudes a picture of health (can we talk about her serious glow?), so when we asked her what questions we should be asking ourselves in order to get the most youthful bang for our buck, she spun pure gold. Start posing these q’s to yourself asap, and heed her expert advice:
“Are you eating a majority of real, unprocessed foods?
As we feed our bodies real, whole foods, we get a taste (pun intended) of what it feels like to be at our best. When we start to feel the powerful effects on whole, real foods in our bodies, mood, energy, and brain, we can use our bodies as a barometer to what habits and food combinations work for us. You can then start to use food as a way to provide feedback to your body.Food supports our cell renewal, our skin, and the aging process. Make the effort to focus on protein, fiber, and fat at each meal, and eat until you’re full and satisfied. Yes, no counting or measuring. My food approach is nonrestrictive—just real foods. This combination keeps your blood sugar stable, which helps to prevent degenerative diseases as we age.
Use your choice of protein, consume fiber from above-ground veggies like broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and the like, and derive your fat from high-quality sources like extra virgin olive oil, avocado, ghee, grass-fed butter, and nuts and seeds.
Are you getting low-impact movement every single day?
I purposely call this movement and not working out. The word movement creates a positive approach to this idea and allows for the flexibility to interpret it in many ways. From hormonal balancing, increased cognitive function, and increased insulin sensitivity, moving our bodies allows for us to age slowly.Building muscle strength is one of the best things we can do for our body to improve its production of growth factors, increase sensitivity to insulin, and reap brain-boosting benefits. Weight and resistance training is essential for protecting our muscles, joints, and brains as we age. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) helps to support bone density and cognitive function in the brain by increasing the expression of BDNF growth factor, which is essential for learning and memory as we age.
Keep in mind that low-impact movement and small habit changes are beneficial to your overall well-being. Don’t underestimate the low-impact movement we do every day. They add up! Going for a walk is extremely powerful for your body and brain. Taking the stairs instead of an escalator, walking when you can, and riding a bike when possible are all wonderful ways to fit low-impact movement into your life.
Are you drinking enough water?
Water is our lifeline and should be treated as such—from energy to hormone balancing, cell turnover, and supporting our skin and bodies. We get rid of toxins by sweating, urinating, and pooping, so as you start to increase your water content and head to the bathroom more, embrace the bathroom breaks!Every time you get up, you’re giving your body an opportunity to move, stretch, refresh, and eliminate. Know that each time you use the restroom, you’re aiding your body in its natural function. Let your bathroom breaks become your quiet time and know that you’re doing your body good.
Are you keeping stress levels in check?
Stress sets off a cascade of negative reactions in the body. The sympathetic nervous system activates the fight-or-flight response during a threat or perceived danger. Today, it means emails, text messages, social isolation, anxiety, social media notifications, and a pandemic that has greatly impacted each and every single one of us.But chronic stress accelerates premature aging by shortening DNA telomeres. Today’s stress can speed up the aging process by shortening the length of each DNA strand. We want to try to activate our parasympathetic nervous system to restore the body to a state of calm as much as possible.
Our parasympathetic nervous system plays a crucial role in many physiological processes, such as inflammation, immune response, heart rate, peristalsis (pooping!), and digestion. So when your sympathetic nervous system is activated, those physiological processes get pushed to the wayside.
Do you have a sense of belonging?
The support of others through loving community and relationships allows us to feel supported, seen, and loved. Blue Zones, the seven regions of the world where people live much longer than average, all have these things in common—religion and spirituality—which naturally support a sense of belonging and community. This suggests that the higher-than-average lifespans may be due to social support.Studies have shown that social relationships support healthy aging and keep us sharper for longer. Community helps to buffer feelings of loneliness and isolation. It helps to improve happiness, motivation, and health while offering us a source of meaning and purpose, allowing us to stay sharper for longer.
Being separated from family and loved ones is a newer concept in our evolution due to the invention of modern travel, emerging cities, and the ease of obtaining food. And the newest reason, a global pandemic. In our tribal days, we relied heavily on our tribes for food, help with housekeeping, raising children, and emotional support. Today, we really have to make an effort to maintain community and social support.
How is your sleep quality?
If you want to slow down the aging process, sleep. The function of sleep is to defend against oxidative stress. An increase of oxidative stress is a real part of our day-to-day, from environmental damage like sugar, pollutants, pesticides, smoke, fighting infection (which creates inflammation, a natural and important process), drugs, and excessive sun exposure.Sleep is also when our brain sifts through important information and decides what’s important and what isn’t, like a filing cabinet. A buildup of inflammation from oxidative stress can cause brain fog, fatigue, muscle/joint pain, noise sensitivity, headaches, and a lowered immune system. On a more aesthetic level, chronic inflammation can affect our collagen fibers and skin function. When we increase sleep, we increase the resistance to oxidative stress, which allows our body and mind to thrive.”