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Women: FEEL AMAZING whatever your age; STAYING YOUNG IS ALL ABOUT LOOKING AND FEELING YOUR BEST - WHETHER YOU'RE IN YOUR 20s OR 60s. FOLLOW OUR HEALTH AND BEAUTY GUIDE TO HOLD BACK YEARS...

Byline: BY SALLY JANES

IN YOUR 20s

Your body

YOU can drink and smoke and never give a thought to your health, and still feel fine - for the moment.

But following an unhealthy lifestyle in your 20s will come back to haunt you in 20 years time.

"You're young and healthy and probably feel immune to problems," says Dr Annabel Bentley from Bupa. "But it's an illusion. You'll get away with it in the short term but you're storing up trouble for the coming years.

"Binge drinking and smoking will add years to your body's age and take years off your life."

BEAT THE CLOCK "If you do just one thing to improve your health, quit smoking," says Dr Bentley. "Even social smoking ages your organs, damages tissue and brain cells. Don't binge drink, stick to fewer than two to three units of alcohol (one unit equals a small glass of wine or a pub measure of spirit) a day."

Your skin

BEING in your 20s is no guarantee of having youthful looking skin. If you smoke your skin will be up to 15 years older.

"Any woman who cares about her skin and smokes is out of her mind," says skincare guru Leslie Kenton, author of The Skin Revolution (Vermillion, pounds 9.99). "Smoking uses up Vitamin C and zinc which means your body can't produce new collagen." It's not unusual to have bouts of acne in your 20s.

"Acne is a big issue," says Leslie. "It's likely you're not getting enough essential fatty acids."

BEAT THE CLOCK Don't shy away from the sun as 20 minutes of sunlight a day is a good source of Vitamin D. However, always wear sunscreen to avoid damaging your skin. "The damage to cells from sunburn can last a lifetime," says Leslie. "Never use a sunbed as rays from sunbeds are ageing."

to banish spots, try Vertesse Omega oils 3+6+9, pounds 6.49 from pharmacies.

IN YOUR 30s

Your body

FROM the age of 30 you'll lose bone density daily, find it harder to fight the flab and it will take longer to conceive.

"The main ageing factors in your 30s are hectic lifestyles and stress," says Dr Bentley. "Bringing up children is demanding and can also be isolating - and the stress of trying to do it all can be ageing.

"Being overweight can also age you as body fat secretes hormones and can increase the chances of developing adult onset diabetes."

BEAT THE CLOCK "try to balance work and family so you don't get old before your time," says Dr Bentley. "Increase weightbearing exercise - such as running, cycling or walking to protect your bones."

According to nutritional therapist Dr Marilyn Glenville (www.marilynglenville.com) the right foods can keep you young. Antioxidant foods help fight free radicals, which cause cell damage and premature ageing.

Dr Glenville says: "Rather than just eating your greens, choose a rainbow selection of foods. Eat brightly coloured antioxidant-rich foods such as oranges, carrots and pumpkins, and those rich in selenium, such as avocado, nuts and seeds."

The supplement Perfectil (pounds 8.50 for 30 tablets from Boots or health food stores) contains antioxidant vitamins and minerals to fight free radical cell damage.

Your skin

"YOUR skin is changing," says Steve Barton, scientific skincare adviser for Boots. "Skin cells gradually lose their elasticity and moisture and the skin's surface becomes drier." You'll notice a less toned, uneven complexion. Wrinkles on the forehead, laughter lines and crow's feet appear, and in the morning under-eye puffiness takes longer to go.

BEAT THE CLOCK Counteract dryness with rich moisturisers. Steve Barton says: "Introduce two regimes into your daily skincare, one for day and one for evening. This is because your skin needs protection during the day and repair or nourishment overnight."

Try No 7 Advanced Hydration Day Cream (pounds 11.50) and No7 Time Resisting Night Cream (pounds 15.75). To slow down cell damage, try Botanics Vitamin Recovery Mask (pounds 3.99).

IN YOUR 40s

Your body

AS you approach middle age you may feel your energy levels flagging. If you're feeling tired and have heavy periods you could be anaemic.

Chances are you'll go through several life changes in your 40s - whether it's losing a parent, divorce or illness. Severe stress, depression or bereavement can age you by 30 years, according to Real Age, a medical research philosophy that has swept the US.

BEAT THE CLOCK

Dr Bentley says: "See your GP for a blood test to rule out anaemia. Eat foods rich in iron, including red meat, oily fish, poultry, eggs and leafy vegetables."

If you have friends and family to help you through a crisis you'll actually look and feel eight years younger, according to Real Age. And research from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, U.S., shows happy people live longer.

Your skin

AGE spots are common in your 40s - they're the brown patches that appear on the backs of hands, the neck and face. Wrinkles will now be deeper lines etched on the forehead, around the mouth and eyes, and dark circles will become pouch-like.

"With the breakdown of elastin and collagen, skin loses its ability to plump up," explains Steve Barton. "Without this support structure skin begins to sag and crease. Cell turnover also slows down to a snail's pace, resulting in an uneven dull complexion and with the advent of the menopause, skin becomes drier."

BEAT THE CLOCK To treat age spots Leslie Kenton recommends Environ's C-Boost Vitamin C cream (www.environline.co.uk). Always use a sunscreen to prevent further age spots developing.

Dr Glenville recommends drinking six glasses of water a day to keep skin hydrated. Cutting back on processed and sugary foods will also brighten up a dull complexion. Time Delay Nourishing Eye Cream (pounds 8 from Boots) will help reduce eye puffiness while Purifying Cleansing Balm (pounds 5.67) boosts skin tone and texture.

IN YOUR 50s+

Your body

AS you near the menopause, you'll notice your body ageing quicker. "At this age women lose muscle mass but increase body fat," says Dr Bentley. "You'll also lose bone density, which increases the risk of osteoporosis. Your eyesight and hearing can also deteriorate."

Your hair may thin, nails may be dry and you may get more forgetful, too. One third of the over 60s suffer from high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease.

BEAT THE CLOCK It's never too late to embark on a healthier lifestyle. Eat more essential fats to beat dry scalp and nails. Boost bones with calcium-rich foods such as dairy products, oily fish and green vegetables, or take a calcium supplement, Osteocare (pounds 3.25 for 30 tablets).

Gentle exercise will protect your bones as well as improving flexibility in the joints. You don't need a rigorous gym workout, just try to be more active every day.

"Take up gardening, walking, or find an active hobby," says Dr Bentley. "Give your brain a workout too as research shows exercising the brain encourages grey matter to be formed. Keeping the brain strong, combined with a good diet and exercise will leave you looking and feeling younger."

Set yourself six memory tasks each day. For example, recalling what you did in a particular year.

Your body needs regular maintenance to stay in shape. Get your blood pressure checked. You can reduce blood pressure by reducing salt, quitting smoking and taking beta blockers. Book an eye test and hearing test if you think you need one and see your chemist for a cholesterol test.

Your skin

BY this age lines and wrinkles will be your main concern. Levels of the hormone oestrogen plummet, which is bad news for the skin as oestrogen plumps up tissue.

"This affects the moisture holding capacity of the skin," says Steve Barton. "It becomes drier, thinner and more fragile. Skin can sag and droop because the production of collagen and elastin fibres is extremely slow and finally sensitivity can increase."

BEAT THE CLOCK Leslie Kenton says: "As oestrogen and progesterone levels fall it is vital to moisturise the skin. Increase your omega-3 fats - eat mackerel, herring, sardines and salmon - and drizzle pressed flaxseed oil on salads.

"Toxic overload ages the skin very rapidly and makes it look dull so eat foods rich in sulphur such as garlic, onions and eggs to reduce levels of toxins."

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 21, 2006
Words:1401
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