Ageing backwards

Ageing backwards

Here's how to take stressful 2020 off your face, writes Mariko Amekodommo

That 2020 was stressful is an understatement! During these past months, the stress of the world has taken a toll on us with the first visible effects being on our appearance. Although 2020 feels like the year that would never end, our bodies also felt it and aged accordingly. 

With stress-induced ageing, the first thing we notice is the dark sagging eyes that is an impossible task for even the best eye creams. Next, we see skin losing firmness due to the lack of collagen and elasticity. With the loss of elasticity, fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear. If the appearance of ageing wasn't enough, we can also experience stress-induced hormonal acne and eczema.

The quickest way to undo the damage is to begin incorporating key foods into your diet that reduce ageing and reverse the negative effects of stress on our faces. Here are a few ways to keep everyone from guessing your age:

Green tea

It contains polyphenols to protect your skin against premature ageing, and L-theanine to reduce your stress levels while providing an energy boost. Opt for organic varieties as the processing method maintains a higher level of key ingredients. If you are sensitive to caffeine, the decaffeinated varieties will have the same benefits.

Tip: If stress has left you with dark circles and sagging eyelids, put two green tea bags in the freezer until cold then place over your eyes for five minutes. You'll instantly see the puffiness go down and your eyes will wake up which is important after spending all day long staring at screens. 

Papaya

This readily available superfood is rich in a variety of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that bring back elasticity to the skin and minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Packed with vitamins A, C, K and E and minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and B vitamins — papaya fights free radical damage and is also inflammatory for stress-induced rashes and eczema.

Tip: Take 2 cups extra ripe papaya, chop and freeze. Add a few spoons of honey and juice of 2 lemons and blend until smooth. Transfer to a plastic container and freeze for the perfect anti-ageing sorbet. Have extra papaya? Blend by itself and use as a face mask to reduce wrinkles.

Broccoli

This powerhouse vegetable is anti-inflammatory, high in fibre and aids digestion by flushing out toxins and lutein to bring youthfulness back to our eyes. High in iron, broccoli stimulates blood circulation to instantly reduce stress-induced sagging skin and the high levels of Vitamin C help with the production of collagen to bring back the skin's strength and elasticity.

Tip: Although you can eat it raw, opt for cooked broccoli because it releases more of the essential nutrients to the body. Crispy baked broccoli is the perfect snack when you want all the benefits without the guilt. Chop broccoli in small pieces, add to the bowl, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle with spices like pepper, chilli and cumin. Spread on a baking sheet and cook at 130 C for 30 minutes. Let cool and let the snacking commence.

(The author is an international culinary expert.)