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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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.”