Susan Sarandon Defies Hollywood by Aging Gracefully and in Great Health, from WebMD the Magazine
Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson
As she attempts to transform herself from her current movie role as a bride-to-be in Mr. Woodcock, co-starring Billy Bob Thornton, after just wrapping up another in Cameron Crowe's latest venture, Elizabethtown, one thing is clear: Susan Sarandon is too busy, and in too much demand, to give into the assumptions of age.
Her body seems to agree. In fact, after the 58-year-old Academy Award-winning actress underwent her first screening colonoscopy at age 50, her doctor likened her colon to a 22-year-old's. "To which I said, 'That's probably not the thing of a 22-year-old I'd want, if I had the choice,'" she tells WebMD.
Colon aside, this mother of three has a few other natural traits that many 22-year-olds would kill for -- and many 50-somethings spend top dollar on.
That's why Sarandon was recently tapped by Revlon Cosmetics to join Halle Berry and Julianne Moore in the cosmetic company's "extraordinary women" ad campaign. It wasn't the first time she had been approached, but it was the right time.
"When they asked me this time, my friends said, 'Hey, it would be great for women over 30 to see someone their age who hasn't been altered drastically by cosmetic surgery and is still accepted as a standard of beauty.'"
In a nation where women (and growing numbers of men) hunt for the fountain of youth through cosmetic surgery and procedures, pills and creams, Sarandon's secret to staying young is surprisingly simple-and non-invasive. "[My] emphasis is on being healthy ? rather than what you inject or reconstruct. Beauty comes from inside -- it has to do with what you take in."
By eating a diet replete with antioxidants -- those nutritional powerhouses found in many fruits and vegetables that are linked to decreasing the risk of heart disease and cancer -- and by making time for regular exercise, deep breathing, visualization and volunteerism, the actress stays sound and sexy.
A former vegetarian, Sarandon admits she got bored with the meatless lifestyle. "I [still] don't eat a huge amount of red meat," she says, adding, "I can't eat as many carbs as I used to, but I've never been able to do anything as severe as the Atkins diet." After menopause hit at age 54, she cut back on carbs; like many menopausal women, her metabolism changed and she found she was accumulating more weight around the middle. When she does indulge, she chooses whole-grain products over refined grains such as white bread and pasta.
"I went through menopause late and uneventfully," she says. "A lot of people I knew were on hormone replacement therapy ? but I never went down that road." Once considered a standard treatment for menopausal symptoms, estrogen and progestin (the other hormone in HRT regimens) fell out of favor when the landmark Women's Health Initiative (WHI) study was halted because the combo was found to have more risks -- for stroke and a slightly increased chance of developing breast cancer -- than previously suspected.
Green Is Good
On a daily basis, Sarandon makes sure she takes a calcium/vitamin D supplement for bone health, vitamin C, emu oil for arthritis in her knees, Co-Q10 (an antioxidant thought to boost brain power and heart heath) and one or two tablespoons of "green stuff," as she calls it.
"Green stuff" is a powdered form of organically grown vegetables including broccoli, kale, parsley, wheat grass, flaxseed and root vegetables such as turnips and parsnips.
Sarandon gets her green fix from Gary Null, PhD, a New York City-based author of nutrition and aging books, including Power Aging. Null provides nutritional and health counsel to both Sarandon and her partner, actor Tim Robbins, whom she met 16 years ago on the set of the film Bull Durham. They have two children together, 13-year-old Miles Guthrie and 15-year-old Jack Henry. Sarandon also has a 20-year-old daughter, Eva, with director Franco Amurri.
Susan "is the real McCoy," says Null. "A model of health that an entire generation of baby boomers can pay attention to because she has done it right," he says.
The secret to her enviably smooth complexion lies more in what she doesn't do than what she does. Smoking, for instance. "I kind of tried it at one point around The Hunger," she says, referring to a 1983 vampire film she made with David Bowie, then admits, "If I had a boyfriend who smoked, I'd pick one up. But I never got hooked. I smoke in films when it's called for, but it's always a prop, [not] a chemical addiction."
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