What makes you age faster?

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7 Things That Are Making You Age Faster

The habits that we develop in our 20s and 30s have a huge impact on how we look and feel when we are older. It is so important to treat your body with respect and care in order to maintain optimal physical and mental health as we age. Here are some avoidable culprits that speed up the aging process.

Unhealthy Eating

A constant diet of fatty, carbohydrate-laden foods is a huge cause of premature aging. Processed foods, red meats, white bread, and margarine cause inflammation in your body. This swelling can lead to skin flare-ups and wrinkle formation. These foods also add unhealthy levels of sodium, cholesterol and fat into your body, increasing your likelihood of obesity.

Eating more whole foods can decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamin C, zinc, beta carotene and other nutrients that will boost your immune system. Including fish – which is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains – which are packed with anti-oxidants, in your diet promote healthy skin and reduce wrinkles.

Alcohol

While a glass of wine every now and then is no cause for alarm, regular drinking can cause you to look much older than you truly are. Alcohol is a natural diuretic, which means that the more you drink, the more dehydrated you become. Your body relies on healthy fluids, i.e. water, in order for it to perform its normal body processes. Insufficient hydration leads to damage to your organs and premature aging of your skin.

By limiting your alcohol intake to one drink a day, you reduce the amount of work that your liver needs to do to flush out toxins and impurities from your body. The texture and moisture of your complexion will improve, you will lose unwanted pounds and your sleep will become more restful.

Stress

Nothing can age you quite as fast as a constant sense of worry, anxiety and stress. Studies have shown that prolonged periods of stress can actually alter your DNA. Chronic stress caused by work, family unrest or other triggers, leads to increased blood pressure, sleep disruptions and acne breakouts. These ailments all have a negative impact on how we age.

Do your best to find healthy ways to deal with stress. Taking some time each day to unplug and enjoy some quiet solitude can go a long way towards reducing your stress levels. Go for a walk, read a book or soak in a warm tub. Make de-stressing a priority and your body will thank you.

Sleep Deprivation

Insufficient sleep has become a worldwide epidemic. It has been widely proven that a lack of sleep leads to impaired cognition and memory performance. Over time, prolonged sleep disruptions can severely impact our immune systems, decision making processes, response time and other key brain functions. Sleep deprivation is also linked to a speed-up in the aging process. Reduced skin elasticity, uneven pigmentation and under-eye puffiness have all been linked to poor sleep quality.

Many people say that as they get older, they need less sleep. It is true that as we age, our circadian rhythms change, thus affecting sleep patterns. However, studies show that it is still ideal to get 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night. If you find that you are waking up tired or dragging during the day, talk to your doctor to rule out any possible sleep disorders such as sleep apnea.

Smoking

It should come as no surprise that smoking is on this list. The list of ways that cigarette smoking negatively impacts your health and aging process are endless. Illnesses such as heart disease, lung cancer, infertility, high blood pressure and emphysema are just a few of the ailments caused by smoking. In addition to shortening your life span, cigarettes also affect your physical appearance. Smoking activates enzymes that break down the elasticity of your skin. It also deprives your skin cells of needed oxygen, causing your skin to turn a grayish yellow pallor.

If you are a smoker, the time to quit is now. Studies show that smokers who quit at age 35 added 8 years to their life span and those who quit at age 65 added 2 to 4 years to their longevity. Nicotine addiction is extremely powerful and can be difficult to beat on your own. Talk to your doctor about cessation medications and techniques to kick the habit once and for all.

Sun Exposure

Despite how amazing the sun may feel on your skin, sunbathing is one of the worst things you can do when it comes to premature aging. Excessive exposure to UV rays weakens your skins blood vessels and skin cells, causing that dry, leathery look. Tanning beds are even worse for your skin. A tanning bed exposes you to up to 15 times more dangerous radiation than sitting in the sun, leading to wrinkles, brown spots and, worst of all, skin cancer. Over the past 30 years, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than all other cancers combined.

Protecting yourself from the sun’s dangerous rays is not difficult. Apply sunscreen to your face and other exposed body parts each morning. Make sunscreen application part of your daily routine, like washing your face and brushing your teeth. If you know you will be out in the sun for a long period of time, pack a hat and additional sunscreen to reapply as needed. Teach your children the dangers of the sun and get them used to wearing sun protection on a regular basis.

Lack of Exercise

Healthy aging begins with regular physical activity. Research shows that people who do not consistently exercise have higher rates of cardiovascular disease and other age-related illnesses. They also suffer from more injuries than their exercise-loving counterparts. As we age, injuries become more dangerous and often lead to potentially life-threatening complications.

Exercise helps to increase beneficial hormones such as testosterone, lowers cortisol levels, improves mood and controls blood pressure. It also keeps your weight stable and prolongs your life span. Consider investing in a fitness tracker to motivate you to get your target steps in each day. Do your best to exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week.

While it is impossible to turn back the clock on aging, there are some conscious things we can all do to slow down the aging process. Making the commitment to living a healthy, productive life will benefit you not only today, but in the years to come.

The Seven Most Common Factors in Premature Aging

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published April 2013 and has recently been updated and revised for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

Aging is the natural process of growing older. Yet there are many factors that play a role in whether we age gracefully or if we are the one out of two people who age faster than our biological age.

More than half of us look older than we really are because we either engage in behaviors that increase our aging, or we do not actively support a more youthful body through inaction. Knowledge is power, and the more you know about fighting the aging process, the more control you can take toward maintaining a healthier, younger body and mind.

1. Premature Aging and Attitude

The mind plays a significant role in whether we are aging faster or slower, and we can use the mind to help us accelerate or decelerate the process. Happier people are quite simply younger looking people. The more you hold hope, optimism, and joy at the top of your list of priorities, the younger your face will appear. Moreover, happier people live longer often with fewer health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, and even aching joints and bones.

Perpetual anger and distress can form permanently on the face in the form of fine lines and deep wrinkles. When the face expresses chronic sad or angry emotions, the constant scowling can turn into wrinkles formed by muscle memory.

A happier face is devoid of wrinkled eyebrows and scowl marks because the muscles have spent more time in a relaxed state. This doesn’t mean that one bad day will give you a face full of wrinkles, but how your face carries your expression more than 50% of the time can determine how prematurely you form wrinkles, where, and how deeply.

2. Aging, Smoking, and Drinking

We all know that smoking and drinking in excess are not good for us. They lead to all kinds of health problems and deplete our bodies of necessary nutrients. Additionally, the lines and discoloration of a smoker or drinker are worn all over their face. The skin needs a certain amount of hydration, collagen, elastin, and oxygen in order to look youthful and healthy.

Smokers develop fine lines around the mouth, deeper forehead wrinkles, and are twice as likely to develop bad teeth. The entire body, including the facial skin, is deprived of enough oxygen and the look and feel of a smoker’s face can be obvious over time.

Drinking excessively can leave permanent marks on the body as well. Aside from the damaging effects on the liver and kidneys, heavy drinkers have facial skin that has been discolored over time, has poor muscle tone, and often has broken blood vessels or small spider veins.

3. Age, Sun, Cold, and Moisture

We can easily accelerate our aging process by basking in the sun’s rays. Sun damage is the number one cause of wrinkles and skin that has been permanently damaged.

Age spots and other forms of discoloration can be seriously exacerbated by the sun’s harmful UV rays. A face that has spent years working on its tan appears heavily wrinkled and touch like show leather. Once you pass the twenty minute mark in the sun, the benefits from absorbing necessary Vitamin D are counteracted by the damage of the UV rays to the skin.

Spending a life time in cold environments can have a similar effect. Rather than creating a tougher skin, the skin appears too thin and wrinkles develop. The same effect can be seen in people who use harsh acne treatments over a period of years.

When acne treatments dry out the skin, it can cause damage similar to the damage caused by cold and sun, creating a dry, tough, wrinkled face. When the skin’s natural oils are depleted, the skin loses its elasticity and the face ages. Moisturizing daily, sometimes two and three times per day, and protecting the skin for the sun and damaging cold can combat these rather common effects on our aging process.

4. Aging and Diet

One of the most commonly misunderstood aging factors is the effect that food has on the body. There are foods that you can eat that will help you retain a younger body and foods that will help age you faster. Choosing a diet that is high in fats, sugars, processed foods, and low in fresh fruits and vegetables creates an internal environment that is anything but youth friendly.

Foods that cause inflammation, like refined sugar, white flour, and even excessive dairy products, can readily create inflammation in the body that contributes to the aging process. These foods tend to make the body “heavier” in feel and appearance because the internal organs are actually suffering from inflammation. Aside from this, our bodies do not process foods that are not in their natural form very well, which means the organic breakdown of nutrients is not being put to biological good use.

Replacing a sugary diet with fried and fatty foods, even if you are not overweight, with one that is high in natural products can keep the whole body looking tighter and younger.

5. Aging and Weight

Being too thin or too heavy can add to the aging process. Being underweight reduces the natural fats in the facial structure which allows the skin to sag and adds to the appearance of wrinkles. A face lift or Botox doesn’t help an underweight face look younger because the natural fattiness that fills out the face can’t be replaced with medical procedures like these.

Simply adding five pounds to an underweight body can bring back a softer, wrinkle free face. Too much weight can make us look older by creating poor muscle tone.

Overweight people, especially as they age, tend to be less active and this leads to chronic health problems and the cycle of aging continues.

Even in your forties, fifties, sixties, and sometimes beyond, putting on a few extra pounds doesn’t mean that you have to carry around a spare tire. Rather, targeted exercise can keep your entire body in shape while adding muscle reduces the flabby, wrinkly look that too much fat can produce.

People who have suffered from eating disorders also tend to develop wrinkles, dry skin, and skeleton like features as they reach their thirties and forties. The body has spent an extended period of time malnourished, even if it was fifteen or twenty years before.

The effects of this phenomenon can be combated through a diet rich in antioxidants, fresh, natural foods, and ample muscle building exercise that does not result in excessive weight loss. Since the metabolism was effected during the time of the eating disorder, those who have recovered should periodically see a nutritionist to develop high energy, low fat, age fighting dietary plans.

6. Aging and Choices

We all make daily choices that either help or hinder the aging process. Regular work outs can help prevent premature aging and keep the entire body in great shape.

Choosing television in the evening over physical exertion can lead to premature aging.
The chronic use of harsh chemicals on and around the body can add to aging, not to mention disease.

Everything from finger nail polish to natural products that make you feel good (aka high) and the medications that we pump into our body can have age related side effects.

The closer we can get back to the natural form our bodies crave, the less likely we are to see our body’s age right in front of our eyes.

Making choices that work with our body rather against it can help slow down the aging process. Learning to listen to your body can change everything. Stop eating when you’re full. Rest when you’re tired. Focus on yourself in a way that you never have before.

Turn toward natural interventions when possible instead of chemical alterations for turning back the clock. These are simple choices that work with our bodies’ own natural rhythm and pay us back in dividends beyond belief.

7. Aging and Stress

Chronic, high stress lives are a good recipe for aging. Aside from the effects that a worried face has on facial wrinkles, stress affects everything from the way we carry ourselves to our energy level. People who are consumed with daily stress do not walk tall and proud like people who are feeling good about themselves. They move slower and they challenge their bodies less. People who are overwhelmed with stressed also tend to have illnesses that can help the aging process along.

A certain amount of stress is actually good for us, although stress that creates physical signs on the body should be handled on a pleasant and relaxing manner.

Grab a weekly massage and practice calm forms of exercise like Yoga. Meditation can also help improve your overall stress level, which can make you feel more focused and younger.

While we can’t keep those birthdays from rolling around in our direction, we can take affirmative action to keep the aging process from taking over our lives. With less stress, better diet and exercise, and a happier outlook, we can retain our youthful joy and keep our spirits much younger. The youthful joy on the inside will be noticeable on the outside.

About the author:

Vivian Rivera writes for a website created by her husband, Ryan. He has tried many anxiety cures and it took 7 years of suffering and a tipping-point in his life to make a number of “huge leaps” toward getting rid of his anxiety and a more fulfilling life. His success inspired him to create website www.calmclinic.com which helps other people get rid of this annoying condition.

Everything You Need to Know About Premature Aging

Once you notice the signs of aging, you can take steps to address the way your body is changing — or allow nature to take its course.

There isn’t a right or wrong way to age, and whatever you choose to do with your body is entirely up to you.

If you have sunspots

If you notice sunspots, start by seeing a dermatologist to rule out other skin conditions.

Once you know for sure what you’re dealing with, consider what lifestyle changes you can make.

Wear sunscreen with at least 30 SPF daily to protect yourself from UV rays, and reduce direct exposure to the sun whenever possible. Covering up when you go outside can help prevent further spots from appearing.

You may also try treating the sunspots topically to see if they fade. Aloe vera, vitamin C, and products containing alpha hydroxy acid may help treat sunspots.

If those aren’t effective, clinical treatment for sunspots includes intense pulsed light therapy, cryotherapy, and chemical peels.

If you have gaunt hands

If your hands appear to be gaunt, with translucent, fragile skin and visible veins, start moisturizing them regularly.

It may be time to try a new product that locks hydration in to your skin barrier. You may also want to apply sunscreen with at least 30 SPF to your hands.

If your hands are regularly exposed to chemicals and pollutants through the work that you do or your household chores, it might not be possible to stop your exposure to those things completely.

Instead, make small changes — like wearing gloves when you wash the dishes or weed your garden.

If you’re concerned with how your hands look, speak to a dermatologist.

Clinical treatments for hands that have aged include chemical peels, dermal fillers, and laser treatment.

If you have inflammation or hyperpigmentation

If you have discoloration on your chest, start protecting that area of your body from the sun whenever possible.

Use sunscreen with at least 30 SPF each day, and pay careful attention to covering the parts of your skin that have been damaged.

Moisturize the area frequently and try to find a lotion with vitamin C or retinoids.

There are products that a doctor can prescribe to treat hyperpigmentation in your chest area. Mild steroids and bleaching agents can fade the look of hyperpigmentation over time.

If you have dry or itchy skin

If your skin is flaky, dry, and itchy, you may want to speak with a dermatologist and rule out any other health conditions.

Once you know that your dry skin is a sign of aging and not a symptom of something else, start focusing on lifestyle factors.

Drink more water to maintain hydration throughout your body and your skin. Take shorter showers using lukewarm water.

Determine if the dryness is a result of your skin type or if it’s actually dehydrated, as the treatments for both differ.

Then find a moisturizer that works for you and apply it daily.

If switching up your routine at home doesn’t work, speak to a doctor about a prescription moisturizer that has stronger ingredients for protecting your skin.

If you have wrinkles or sagging skin

If your skin is sagging or you notice wrinkles, there are several things you can do.

Start by protecting your skin every day with a sunscreen with at least 30 SPF. Limit your sun exposure by wearing hats with a brim and loose clothing that covers your limbs.

If you smoke, quitting can help prevent further skin damage.

Drink water and moisturize your skin each day. Cosmetics with green tea extracts, vitamin A, vitamin C, retinoids, and anti-oxidants may help.

If you’d like to go the clinical route, procedures like Botox and dermal fillers can make your skin appear less wrinkled and more full or lifted.

If you have hair loss

If your hair is falling out or growing thinner, consider purchasing a shampoo and conditioner product meant to address the issue.

Make sure your diet is full of nutritious food that nourishes your hair. Consider adding a multivitamin or vitamin supplement to help your body make keratin.

Products for hair loss are different for cisgender men and women.

Rogaine (minoxidil) and Propecia (finasteride) are popular over-the-counter treatments.

In pursuit of perfect skin, we try countless serums and creams, book elaborate facials, and chug water religiously, yet there’s a beyond simple fix that has been staring us in the face all this time: giving up (or significantly cutting back on) alcohol—which we’ve long known is no health elixir, but has a perhaps unexpected impact on our complexions in particular. So, what exactly are the effects of alcohol on skin?

“Alcohol is actually one of the worst, most aggressive compounds to destroy your skin,” says New York nutritionist Jairo Rodriguez, who counts designers and Vogue editors among his clients. “I always joke with my patients, ‘If you want to get older, go ahead and drink!’” At a time when many are more sober curious than ever, Rodriguez breaks down the exact effects of alcohol on skin, as well as the benefits of giving up alcohol or imbibing more tactfully.

Dehydration Is the Issue
“Drinking is classified as two drinks a day. There’s a huge amount of damage to the skin that occurs; alcohol affects any mucous membrane, from the pancreas and liver to the skin. The first effect is dehydration, as it actually takes all the fluid out of the skin. If you look at a woman who has been drinking for 20 or 30 years, and a woman the same age who hasn’t at all, we see a massive difference in the skin—more wrinkles from that dehydration damage, which can make you look 10 years older.”

Inflammation Too
“Alcohol inflames the tissue, and systemic inflammation to the skin caused by alcohol creates a histamine reaction—that creates the redness, the flushing of the skin. At first you think, Oh, a little red, not a big deal, but over a period of time—six months, a year, two years—if you continue drinking, it can become a prominent facial redness you can’t get away from.”

You Can Bounce Back—Within Reason
“If you do give it up, the good thing is that your skin, like any other organ, has the ability to regenerate. The body has a fabulous rate of rehydration. But that regeneration depends on how much damage has been done. If you’ve been drinking for 15 to 20 years and stop, I think it’s great, but can you regenerate your skin back to a normal 50-year-old? Once you destroy the collagen, it is hard to get back.”

Choose Your Liquor Wisely
If you do drink, what’s the best alcohol to choose? “Different alcohols have different effects on the skin, but as a general rule, the clearer, the better: vodka, gin, and tequila get out of your system quicker. If you’re going to drink anything, in my opinion, drink vodka that doesn’t have a grain in it, like a potato vodka. It’s a lot clearer and smoother, so it gets in and out of your body, no problem.”

Drink Every Other Day—Or Less
“When you’re 20 years old and drink, that drink leaves your body in about three hours. When you’re 40 years old, it takes an average of 33 hours. If your transit time is three hours, that means you can drink on Monday and by Tuesday, it’s out of your body. If you’re 40 and you drink on Monday, don’t drink until Wednesday. Minimize to once or twice a week—the lower the intake, the lower the damage to your skin.”

Stay Hydrated
“If you’re going to drink, drink water with it to increase that diuretic effect. I think mothers have been saying that for the last 2,000 years, but nobody listens if your mother says it.”

Facts About Aging and Alcohol

These are common stories. The fact is that families, friends, and healthcare workers often overlook their concerns about older people drinking. Sometimes trouble with alcohol in older people is mistaken for other conditions related to aging, for example, a problem with balance. But, how the body handles alcohol can change with age. You may have the same drinking habits, but your body has changed.

Alcohol may act differently in older people than in younger people. Some older people can feel “high” without increasing the amount of alcohol they drink. This “high” can make them more likely to have accidents, including falls and fractures and car crashes. Also, older women are more sensitive than men to the effects of alcohol.

Drinking too much alcohol over a long time can:

  • Lead to some kinds of cancer, liver damage, immune system disorders, and brain damage
  • Worsen some health conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, ulcers, memory loss and mood disorders
  • Make some medical problems hard for doctors to find and treat—for example, alcohol causes changes in the heart and blood vessels. These changes can dull pain that might be a warning sign of a heart attack.
  • Cause some older people to be forgetful and confused—these symptoms could be mistaken for signs of Alzheimer’s disease.

Learn more about how alcohol affects older women.

How Alcohol Affects Safety

Drinking even a small amount of alcohol can lead to dangerous or even deadly situations. Drinking can impair a person’s judgment, coordination, and reaction time. This increases the risk of falls, household accidents, and car crashes. Alcohol is a factor in 30 percent of suicides, 40 percent of crashes and burns, 50 percent of drownings and homicides, and 60 percent of falls. People who plan to drive, use machinery, or perform other activities that require attention, skill, or coordination should not drink.

In older adults, too much alcohol can lead to balance problems and falls, which can result in hip or arm fractures and other injuries. Older people have thinner bones than younger people, so their bones break more easily. Studies show that the rate of hip fractures in older adults increases with alcohol use.

Adults of all ages who drink and drive are at higher risk of traffic accidents and related problems than those who do not drink. Drinking slows reaction times and coordination and interferes with eye movement and information processing. People who drink even a moderate amount can have traffic accidents, possibly resulting in injury or death to themselves and others. Even without alcohol, the risk of crashes goes up starting at age 55. Also, older drivers tend to be more seriously hurt in crashes than younger drivers. Alcohol adds to these age-related risks.

In addition, alcohol misuse and abuse can strain relationships with family members, friends, and others. At the extreme, heavy drinking can contribute to domestic violence and child abuse or neglect. Alcohol use is often involved when people become violent, as well as when they are violently attacked. If you feel that alcohol is endangering you or someone else, call 911 or get other help right away.

Read about this topic in Spanish. Lea sobre este tema en español.

For More Information About Alcohol Use and Safety

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
National Institutes of Health
1-888-696-4222

This content is provided by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), part of the National Institutes of Health. NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure that it is accurate, authoritative, and up to date.

Content reviewed: May 16, 2017

Alcohol and Aging: Does Drinking Make You Look Older?

Last Updated On June 21, 2019

The short answer: yes. While the occasional drink with friends might not hurt, evidence suggests there is a strong relationship between alcohol and aging. Drinking too much can cause wrinkly skin, redness, and a dry complexion–and that’s only the beginning. If you want to keep looking and feeling young, it’s probably time to start drinking less alcohol.

The Link Between Alcohol and Aging

There are many ways alcohol can put an extra strain on your body. Alcohol causes your body to release more stress hormones, which speeds up the aging process. It also affects the healthy functioning of your digestive system, making it harder for you to absorb essential nutrients. This includes vitamins A, B, D, and E; minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc; and even basics like proteins and carbohydrates. Alcohol’s all-around negative effect on nutrition means that heavy drinkers often become malnourished. This limits the body’s ability to maintain itself, resulting in faster aging.

Image by Dietmar Becker from Unsplash

Of course, rapid aging affects your physical appearance. A recent study by researchers in Denmark focusing on telltale signs of aging found that men who consumed more than 35 drinks a week were 35 percent more likely to display “arcus corneae,” a gray ring in the eye that often pops up in old age. Women who had 28 drinks or more per week had a 33 percent higher chance of developing the same syndrome. By adding extra stress to your body and depriving it of the nutrients it needs to rebuild, alcohol can place you years ahead in the aging process, and affect how you look.

Alcohol, Aging, and Your Skin

One of the most visible impacts alcohol can have is on your complexion. The internet is full of articles encouraging you to cut back on alcohol to protect your skin, and for good reason. Alcohol can cause:

  • A deficiency of nutrients like vitamin A, which helps with cell regeneration and collagen reproduction. Both are essential to youthful skin.
  • Enlarged blood vessels, giving your skin a redder appearance.
  • Dehydration, making your skin appear scaly and helping wrinkles appear faster.
  • Liver disease, which causes conditions like spider telangiectasia—red spiderweb-like lesions below the surface of the skin—and jaundice, a yellowing of the skin.

That’s quite a list. And although cutting back on alcohol can give your skin a chance to regenerate, some damage cannot be reversed. All in all, the sooner you quit or moderate your drinking, the better.

Alcohol Can Make You Feel Older, Too

Image by AJ Robbie from Unsplash

Alcohol doesn’t just affect you superficially. It can impact your physical, emotional, and spiritual health, too—making you not only look but also feel older than you are. Although alcohol might make you feel more relaxed in the moment, in the long run it can increase anxiety and depression, feeding into a negative cycle. And then there are the frequent hangovers from binge drinking. Overall, the less you drink, the more energetic and youthful you will feel. This will in turn affect how you look. Feeling better inside almost always means looking better on the outside.

Drink Less, Look and Feel Better

One of the best things you can do for your all-around health and appearance is to drink less alcohol. But at Ria Health, we recognize that this can be easier said than done. Many people struggle with alcohol dependency, and it can be hard to know how to begin to cut back. Ria’s telemedicine-based program is designed to simplify things, allowing you to meet with doctors from the comfort of your home, and access the medication and support you need. We use evidence-based methods to help you moderate or stop drinking, and our convenient smartphone app makes the whole process portable. You no longer need to disrupt your life in order to start drinking less. Get in contact with us today, or learn more about how our program works. Soon, you can be on the road to a more youthful self—inside and out.

10 Unhealthy Mistakes That Make You Age Faster

Next: How’s your life in the bedroom?

11. Your sex life is lacking

A lackluster sex life could be making you look older. | iStock.com/Kuzmichstudio

Another reason to hop into bed with your significant other: Sex has anti-aging benefits. Dr. David Weeks, a clinical psychologist, tells The Telegraph having sex regularly can make both you and your partner look five to seven years younger. Why? Sex releases endorphins that reduce stress levels, help you sleep better, boost circulation, and help your skin look younger.

Sex can also boost immunity, reduce cancer risk, and benefit your blood pressure. Not only will you look younger, but you’ll feel more energized, too.

Next: Dull skin isn’t so sweet.

12. You eat too much sugar

You should cut back on the sugar for your health and appearance. | iStock.com

Sugary drinks and store-bought cookies will wreak havoc on your skin and looks. Consuming too much processed, sugary food. According to research published in 2013, people with the highest blood sugar levels look older. The study involved more than 600 men and women who had no knowledge of where they fell on the spectrum. A board was asked to guess the age of participants without knowing anything about them, and those who had the highest blood sugar were thought to be older.

Next: Another reason to get a massage or practice yoga

13. You’re always stressed

Do some deep breathing and meditation to lower stress levels. | iStock.com

If you’re constantly thinking about groceries, laundry, and work deadlines, then it’s time to relax. Not only can chronic stress increase your risk for heart disease, but it can also make you look 10 years older. When you’re anxious, your body releases stress chemicals, which will slowly age your body, says The HuffPost. If your job is stressing you out, then consider practicing meditation and doing mini desk workouts.

Next: Don’t let your physique go up in flames.

14. You’re exercising too little — or too much

Get the proper amount of physical activity. | iStock.com/dolgachov

A lack of exercise is linked to higher stress levels and weight gain (both make us look older). You should also make sure you’re not overdoing it. John Higgins, M.D., tells Prevention you need to give your body enough time between workouts to heal appropriately. If you refuse to take a rest day, you could trigger an inflammatory response that affects your immune system and impacts your sleep.

Next: Put the motion in your lotion.

15. Not using moisturizer

Without enough moisture, your hands and neck show signs of aging quickly. | OlgaMiltsova/iStock/Getty Images

Some people, especially men, prefer not to use lotions or serums regularly. But researching and utilizing the right products for your skin will keep it looking healthier all year. Here are some of the best inexpensive moisturizers you can buy at your local drugstore.

20 Habits That Make You Age Faster

As someone who looks a lot younger than I am, I cannot wait until the day comes that I won’t have to flash my I.D. to get into a bar—but that doesn’t mean I’m interested in my body aging any faster than it should.

It’s not just genetics—there are numerous habits that influence how your body ages. Diet, smoking, sun exposure, and exercise all play a role in how long you live, how your skin glows, how healthy you are, and even how your brain functions. That’s right, the degradation of your mental acuity can be influenced by daily choices: University of Cambridge researchers recently discovered that being overweight or obese can cause your brain to appear an extra 10 years older compared to lean individuals of the same age! Talk about a brain drain.

Although aging is a natural process, there are some habits you may be partaking in which are speeding up the process of common age-related activities like wrinkled skin, aches and pains, mental decline, and predisposition to diseases. Often times, we don’t even realize these seemingly routine habits are shortening our lifespan dramatically. So, if you’re looking to look better, live longer, stay sharp, and feel full of energy, we’ve uncovered these mistakes you could be making that are signs you’ll age faster than you should. Don’t worry if you’re guilty of one or two, it’s easy to turn your health around. Just look at these 40 Ways to Lose Weight in 4 Seconds.

1

You Love Meat

If your carnivore attitude is crowding veggies from making it to your plate, you may be negatively affecting your lifespan. The link between increased meat consumption and early death has been noted in multiple studies, including a recent analysis of 1.5 million people in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. On the other hand, those who eat the most fruit and veggies have a 15 percent lower risk of mortality than those who eat the least amount, according to Vanderbilt researchers. Experts speculate the higher risk of all-cause mortality among meat-eaters is because people who eat a lot of red meat also tend to eat fewer plant-based foods, so they consume fewer of their cancer-protective antioxidants and nutrients.

2

You Sit A Lot

You may think a construction job is dangerous, but experts have found that working a desk job may put your health in a similar amount of danger. According to a 2016 analysis of one million men and women by Cambridge University researchers, sitting for at least eight hours a day could increase your risk of premature death by up to 60 percent. Heart disease and cancer were the top causes of death linked to an inactive lifestyle, but prolonged periods of sitting have also been connected to slow blood circulation, poor blood sugar regulation, and high cholesterol levels—which set the stage for age-related diseases. There is a silver lining: The authors also found that among those who sat for 8 hours or more a day, the participants who also engaged in at least an hour’s worth of exercise—such as moderate walking—reduced their risk of mortality by nearly 40 percent compared to those who didn’t move at all.

Eat This! Tip:

Simpling getting up to walk around for two minutes every half hour has been linked to improved glucose and insulin responses in overweight participants, according to studies in Diabetes Care and BMJ. Fidget at your desk, walk to grab a glass of water, and opt for the stairs. It also helps to keep you from regaining weight.

3

You’re Driven By Your Sweet Tooth

Whether you’re always sipping a soda, can’t separate yourself from sugary cereals, or constantly crave sugary “nutrition” bars, you’re aging yourself in more ways than one. For starters, when we eat foods that are high in sugar, we overwhelm our body with sugar molecules. As a result, these excess molecules can cause important proteins, like collagen and elastin (the proteins that keep skin looking firm and young) to haphazardly glom together. The result? Increased levels of inflammation markers—which has been implicated in causing countless age-related diseases—and the breakdown of proteins that prevent our skin from sagging. Alexandra Miller, RDN, LDN, Corporate Dietitian at Medifast sums it up: “Sugar promotes an unhealthy microbiome and it is also pro-inflammatory. All of these characteristics can accelerate the aging process.” Luckily, this can be reversed: researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine found that when people cut out sugary, processed, and fried foods that have high levels of AGEs, markers of inflammation in their body diminished.

4

You Don’t Bother With Exercise

You don’t even need a gym to work out. Experts find that just 30 minutes of moderate walking can improve health, lower bad cholesterol, protect your heart, improve insulin sensitivity, and perhaps most importantly, strengthen bones. As we age, an injury becomes increasingly life threatening. On top of ensuring you’re consuming enough vitamin D and calcium, ensure you’re getting in at least three days of 30-minute brisk walking.

5

You Don’t Go Green

We’ll give it to you straight: Green tea melts belly flab. Researchers attribute the tea’s fat-burning properties to catechins like EGCG—a group of antioxidative compounds that blast adipose tissue by revving the metabolism, increasing the release of fat from adipose cells, and speeding up the liver’s fat-burning capacity. Keeping you trim isn’t the only way to extend your life; A 2015 study discovered that out of 90,000 people, those who consumed the most green tea had the lowest risk of all-cause mortality. Sipping this brew is also connected to lower risks of dementia, psychological distress, stroke, and even bone fractures—which become increasingly prevalent in older women.

6

All Your Grains Are White

White grains are stripped of their outer, fiber- and nutrient-rich shell, meaning they’re essentially just another version of sugar. Sugar feeds the bad bacteria in your gut, which can then crowd out the good bacteria which help release anti-inflammatory compounds into your body. Eating white grains, like white rice, white bread, pasta, and pizza, means you’re eating fewer whole grains—foods that researchers are finding have powerful benefits; The high B-vitamin content of whole grains (which is nearly entirely lost during the refinement process) helps to reduce the inflammatory hormone homocysteine in the body. Plus, high fiber foods suppress appetite and strengthen your immunity, a system that tends to weaken with age.

7

You Rarely Get a Good Night’s Rest

If you didn’t already know from personal experience, the National Sleep Foundation tell us that most Americans don’t get enough shuteye. Because sleep is a critical component of hormone regulation, muscle recovery, memory development, and maintaining a properly functioning metabolism, over time, sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain, anxiety, depression and insulin resistance—which can trigger type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Make catching some ZZZ’s a top priority so your body can adequately produce fat-burning hormones—start with these 30 Things to Do Before Bed to Lose Weight And Sleep Better.

8

Fish Are Your Friends, But Not Your Food

If you’re a “catch and release” kind of person, you could be missing out on some major benefits. The same study that found trans fats could exacerbate UV damage from the sun found that fish fats could prevent it! The magic is in the omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA, which help dampen inflammation, lower triglyceride levels, and minimize diet-induced metabolic and brain damage caused by fructose. It gets better: a new study published in the journal Nutrition found supplementing your diet with Omega-3s could help minimize shortening of your telomeres. Telo-what? Telomeres are the end part of your DNA whose length directly correlates with longevity. Hook a good one by checking out Every Popular Fish—Ranked For Nutritional Benefits!

9

You’re Constantly Stressed Out

Constant stress means high levels of cortisol, the fat-storing stress hormone which has been shown to cause high blood pressure, chest pain, a slower metabolism, and weight gain according to a study in Biological Psychiatry. These are all precursors to age-related diseases that shorten your lifespan. Even worse, the types of food we crave when we’re stressed out tend to be fatty, salty, and sugary—a triple threat when it comes to weight gain. And even if you’re not obese, being overweight can be enough to shorten your lifespan, according to Boston University researchers. Their 2016 study found that people who had ever been overweight over the course of a 23-year study period were 19 percent more likely to die compared with those who never exceeded a normal weight. Check out these natural chill pills: 11 Best Foods For Stress.

10

You’re Never Without Coffee

America certainly runs on java. But that doesn’t mean you can drink the beverage with abandon. Consuming too much caffeine late in the day—after 3 p.m.—can interfere with how long it takes to fall asleep, sleep quality, and total sleep time, according to a review in Sleep Medicine Reviews. What that means for aging? You’ll be cutting into this rejuvenation time which is essential for memory retention, stable moods, and proper attention.

11

“Just One More” is More Than Two

Drinking in moderation has its health benefits, but drinking to excess can be damaging. “The occasional glass (or two) of wine is no harm to you or your skin, but drinking to excess, especially sugary drinks, causes cell-damaging free radicals. Alcohol also robs the body of vitamin A, an antioxidant that’s essential for cell renewal and turnover,” offers Dr. Tasneem “Taz” Bhatia, MD, a weight loss expert. Make sure that when you do drink, reach for cocktails without added sugars (like those frozen margs) and try to limit yourself to two drinks at a time.

12

You Still Use Margarine

Trans fats are about as bad for your health as they are for your skin cells. Despite the FDA’s mandate to remove partially hydrogenated fats from processed goods by 2018, many of us are still consuming this artery-clogging trans fat in store-bought baked goods, fried foods, and many shelf-stable “dairy” products. According to Dr. Taz “the trans fat destroys hydration, and the less your skin is hydrated, the faster the wrinkles appear.” On top of that, studies have linked intake of trans fats with systemic inflammation, which expedites the development of coronary artery disease and diabetes.

13

You Never Turn Down Fried Food

Onion rings, french fries, fried chicken, and deep-fried Oreos—you know they’re bad for your gut, but did you know they could knock off time from your life? “When we deep fry foods, we expose the oil and fat to extremely high temperatures. When this happens, free radicals, the primary culprit in aging, are formed,” offers Lisa Hayim, MS, RD. “These foods not only cause damage to our waistlines but to our organs and insides as well.” It gets worse too. Restaurants typically use corn oil or soybean oil, which are high in inflammatory omega-6 fats. When consumed, they can release free radicals in the body, which can cause anything from heart disease to wrinkles.

14

Most Of Your Meats Are Processed

Pepperoni, bacon, sausages, jerky, and deli meats. The nitrates and preservatives used in processed meats are known to be pro-inflammatory in that they create free radicals in your body. Free radicals lead to oxidation of your cells and DNA, and they can cause enough damage to lead to cancer or other health conditions. Plus, these meats are often full of saturated fats, which age the heart. Keep intake of processed meats to a minimum, and whenever possible, grab a pizza with uncured pepperoni that’s made without nitrites or nitrates—check out our top options in the 25 Best and Worst Frozen Pizzas.

15

You Don’t Bother With Organic

Throughout your life, you can accumulate toxins from food and drink. These substances may build up in your bloodstream or be stored in your body fat, where they can wreck havoc on your health later by disrupting hormone signaling and causing inflammation. Many of those toxins come from pesticides and hormones that are rampant in conventional produce and animal products. Choose organic fruits and vegetables and hormone-free meat to minimize exposure to toxins that accelerate aging.

16

Charred Food Is Your Jam

It’s time for you to break up with burnt meat. When foods develop a blackened, charred appearance, it’s a sign they could have been exposed to carcinogenic chemicals that form when meat is cooked at high temperatures (over 300 degrees Fahrenheit) for long periods of time (i.e. when a steak is “well done”). The National Cancer Institute (NCI) says that two carcinogenic compounds—heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)—present in charred meats have been found to cause changes in DNA that may increase your risk of cancer. The NCI recommends avoiding exposing meat to direct flame or adding an antioxidant such as lemon juice to meat to reduce the formation of these carcinogens.

17

Most Of Your Meals Are Microwaveable

Feel like there’s no time to whip up dinner? Join the club. But frozen meals are notoriously high in sodium, which can cause dehydration, water retention, and bloating—resulting in a puffy, aged appearance. Dr. Taz also points out that “some early studies show damage DNA, shortening telomeres and accelerating aging.” Not to mention, too much sodium leads to high blood pressure, which is linked to wrinkles and cardiovascular disease. If you’re going to reach for this kind of solution from the freezer aisle, at least find out the 22 Best & Worst Frozen Dinners!

18

You Love the Sun

Getting outside and enjoying the sunshine is good for boosting your mood and absorbing the all-important vitamin D, but too much sun exposure is bad news for aging. “The first and most common type is from chronic sun damage,” Jerome Potozkin, MD, board-certified dermatologist, says. “Sun damage results in loss of collagen and elastin resulting in wrinkling of the skin.” Not only does soaking up too many rays make you look older, but it can lead to developing skin cancer, including the potentially fatal melanoma. Be sure to wear an SPF of at least 30 every day and if you’re going to be in the water, reapply often.

19

You Never Go to the Eye Doctor

Going years without an eye exam isn’t a good idea, especially if you wear glasses or contacts. If your eye prescription is outdated, not only will this damage your eyesight further in the long run, but it will also impact the delicate skin around your eyes. “Squinting and other facial expressions are the result of muscle contraction. The more the muscles are used, the stronger they become,” explains Kristina Goldenberg, MD, board-certified dermatologist of Goldenberg Dermatology. “These muscle movements cause skin cells to be squeezed and wrinkles to form. Excessive squinting will, therefore, lead to deeper wrinkles and loss of skin elasticity.” If your current prescription just isn’t cutting it anymore, be sure to book an appointment with your eye doctor ASAP.

20

You Still Smoke

You probably are well aware that smoking is terrible for your health, but it bears repeating: this deadly habit is known to cause lung cancer and heart disease. Not only will it age your heart and your lungs, but it will also show signs of wear on your face. The toxins from the cigarette will start to show wrinkles and fine lines on your face and around your mouth. “Nicotine in cigarettes causes narrowing of the blood vessels in the skin, which leaves it more prone to wrinkling because vital nutrients cannot reach the epidermis,” explains Maral K. Skelsey, MD, board-certified dermatologist and Director of the Dermatologic Surgery Center of Washington.

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33 Things You Didn’t Know Were Causing You to Age Faster

According to Youn, “drinking from water bottles causes us to purse our lips repeatedly, and even though the water hydrates our skin, some doctors believe that the repeated lip pursing causes our lips to wrinkle more.” Youn says the solution is to “drink from wide-mouthed bottles, or, if you need to use a small-mouthed bottle, then squirt the water into your open mouth.”

4 Holding grudges

Your emotional state can significantly influence your physical state. So, holding on to past events or arguments is something that can wear on your mind and your body. “The body holds onto stress and traumas through clenched jaws, permanent frowns or furrowed eyebrows, and slumped shoulders,” explains Heather Larivee, a corporate wellness consultant and the founder and CEO of Sparkflo, LLC.

5 Neglecting your stress levels

Numerous studies support the fact that stress (both short-term and long-term) can cause premature aging. That’s because when you’re stressed, your body produces cortisol, a hormone that can damage your telomerase and telomeres (the caps at the end of each strand of DNA).

“Wrinkles, grey hair, and a weakened immune system may be associated with shortened telomeres,” says Monica Lam-Feist, an ACE-certified personal trainer and fitness lead at AlgaeCal, a calcium supplement company in Canada. “So, by giving yourself a simple attitude adjustment or participating in stress-reducing activities (such as meditation, breathing, and yoga, etc.), you could combat aging.”

6 Being depressed

Being depressed takes a toll on both your physical and mental health—and if left untreated, it can even speed up the aging process. One 2018 review of 34 studies published in the journal Psychological Medicine concluded that people with depression tend to experience greater and faster cognitive decline as they age.

7 Wearing heavy earrings

Jacob Lund /

It may sound strange, but your earlobes could be a dead giveaway that you’re getting up there in age. And if you’re in the habit of wearing big, heavy earrings, that could be even more true.

“As we get older, our earlobes droop (like everything else in our body) and we get stretched and elongated earlobes,” says Youn. “For women, it’s even worse than for men, since heavy earrings can weigh down an ear and cause it to stretch over the years. Ear piercings also weaken the earlobe and can stretch and tear.” As a solution, Youn suggests Lobe Wonder support patches, which attach to the back of the earlobe to support it and counteract the weight of the jewelry. (Good news: They cost just $7 for a pack of 60.)

8 Using chemical-infused skincare products

The skincare products you use every day could be hiding some seriously scary ingredients. “Many beauty and skincare items contain hormone-disrupting chemicals such as phthalates, parabens, pesticides, and plastics,” says Lorraine Miano, an integrative health coach and author of The Magic of Menopause: A Holistic Guide to Get Your Happy Back. “These chemicals can mimic hormones, destroy others, and cause internal signaling issues, leading to premature cell death.”

Talk to your dermatologist about decoding labels and finding the safest products for your skin, because, as Miano cautions, “our skin is our largest organ and what you put on it is absorbed into your body.”

9 Not moisturizing

We cannot emphasize enough the importance of moisturizing every night. In addition to keeping your skin blemish- and wrinkle-free, one 2019 study from the University of California at San Francisco found that taking proper care of your skin can lower inflammation levels and thusly reduce your risk of age-related diseases like Alzheimer’s, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Evidently, aging skin releases cytokines into the circulatory system that can cause inflammation, so if you keep your skin young, your body will stay young, too.

10 Letting sweat sit on your skin

Do you wash your face after every sweat session at the gym? If not, you could be congtributing to the aging process of your skin. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), perspiration can irritate and inflame the skin if it’s left to sit for too long. In addition to washing your face when you wake up and before you go to bed, make sure you’re giving your skin a good cleanse any time you get sweaty.

11 Working out twice a day

While exercise is key to a long and healthy life, there is such a thing as too much exercise. Miano says that when you exercise too hard or too frequently, it can make it so your muscles never have time to fully recover. “This can lead to inflammation, poor sleep, and a compromised immune system,” says Miano. “Especially for women as they age, the stress caused by excessive exercise can raise cortisol levels and lead to hormone imbalances.” Depending on your age, you’ll want space your workouts anywhere from 24 to 36 hours apart.

12 Only doing cardio

Though cardio is great, make sure not to ignore the weight room at the gym. Anyone trying to keep the body of their youth should strength train at least three times a week, says Jill Brown, a certified health and nutrition coach, functional strength coach, and group fitness instructor in Beverly Hills.

“Sarcopenia can begin as young as 25 to 30 years old,” Brown says. “If you don’t exercise enough to make muscle and maintain what you’ve built, you may begin to lose as much as 3 percent to 5 percent per decade after the age of 30.”

13 Looking down at your cell phone

Text neck occurs when you tilt your head down to look at your phone. And since the average head weighs between 8 and 12 pounds, constantly looking down can have major effects on your health.

“Text neck puts an incredible amount of force on our neck and spine, causing undue strain on the neck,” says Larivee. This can age your body prematurely and lead to headaches, neck and shoulder pain, decreased range of motion, and a visible hump in the spine. Larivee recommends holding your phone at eye level, as doing so will prevent text neck and help strengthen the muscles in your upper body.

14 Using your devices all the time…

Excessive device usage is just as bad for adults as it is for children. Specifically, studies have found that the blue light emitted from electronics like cell phones can cause vision impairment and, in severe cases, total vision loss. To avoid aging your eyes beyond repair, try limiting the amount of time you spend looking at a screen every day.

15 But especially before bed

Getting an adequate amount of sleep every night is important when it comes to physical and mental wellbeing. However, if you’re the kind of person who likes to fall asleep scrolling through Facebook or Instagram, you might be unwittingly setting yourself up for failure. One 2017 study from the University of Haifa found that exposure to blue light both shortened participants’ sleep duration and caused them to wake up more frequently throughout the night.

16 Not getting enough sleep

Sleep plays a huge role in our health and the aging process. Getting regular, deep sleep can make the difference between looking bright and chipper in the morning and appearing 10 years older than you actually are. Christine Scott-Hudson, a California-based psychotherapist and the owner of Create Your Life Studio, emphasizes that it “ages you faster to chronically undersleep.”

17 Sleeping on a bad pillow

Sleeping on your face or side can create creases in your cheeks that can progress to permanent sleep wrinkles, says Youn. This is exacerbated if you use a rough pillowcase, like one made of polyester.

His solution? “Sleep on your back—or if you can’t, then change your pillowcase to a silk or satin pillowcase.”

18 Or sleeping in a face full of makeup

A touch of makeup might make you look younger during the day, but keeping it on while you sleep is going to have the opposite effect, aging your skin from the inside out. Licensed medical aesthetician Jamie Cantu, LA, of Westlake Dermatology in Texas explains that when makeup is left on throughout the night, it “seals … free radicals onto the surface of the skin,” which “can break down collagen and cause line and wrinkle development.”

19 Hitting up the tanning beds

It’s a widely held belief that people can only look young and attractive if their skin is the right shade of olive. However, if you think that hitting up the tanning beds is going to make you look 10 years younger, think again.

Though those artificial UV rays might give you the hue you desire, the AAD warns that tanning beds can cause skin cancer and make the skin age more quickly. At the end of the day, you’re better off being pale and cancer-free.

20 Consuming too much dairy

Sure, calcium is good for you, but a glass of milk every day might be too much of a good thing. “Dairy is pro-inflammatory to the gut, which means that if you are consuming dairy on a daily basis, you are increasing your risk of gut inflammation,” says Alissia Zenhausern, MD, a naturopathic physician at NMD Wellness of Scottsdale, in Arizona. “Our gut is our major organ of not only digestion but also detoxification, and a lack of proper detoxification can lead to skin that appears older. Proper gut health is what provides us with young, fresh, glowing skin.”

21 Drinking soda

When it comes to aging yourself, soda is just as bad for your brain as it is for your other organs. In one 2017 study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, researchers found that daily soda consumption is associated with decreased brain volume and decreased memory function. What’s more, in a follow-up study, it was also found that people who drank diet soda were nearly three times more likely to have a stroke or a heart attack than those who never consumed the sugary beverage.

22 Not drinking enough water

The body is made up primarily of water, so naturally, it needs to be replenished with quite a bit of H2O every day. If you drink less than the recommended amount, your lack of fluids might just manifest on your skin. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIH), not drinking enough liquids is one of the many causes of dry skin patches and itching in older individuals.

23 Drinking too much coffee

If you’re worried about looking older than you are, you might want to limit yourself to one or two cups of coffee per day. “Caffeine is like any other diuretic: It can make you excrete fluid and deplete your body of moisture,” Ranella Hirsch, MD, former president of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology & Aesthetic Surgery, told Health. “Anything dehydrating can dehydrate your skin, making it look dull and aged.”

24 Not wearing sunscreen all year round

When it comes to your skin, the sun is a ferocious foe 365 days a year. Forego sunscreen in the winter and fall, and you might just find that your skin is covered in wrinkles and age spots when you’re only in your 40s and 50s. Per the NIH, UVA and UVB rays from the sun can cause serious damage to your skin, so make sure that you never leave the house before applying SPF.

25 Going outside without sunglasses

It pays to invest in a pair of sunglasses. Not only can direct sunlight cause vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration, but the AAD warns that squinting repeatedly can cause those wrinkles near your eyes to become permanent.

26 Paying little attention to your oral hygiene

Paying attention to your oral hygiene only becomes more important as you age. One of the first places that aging manifests both externally and internally is in the mouth—and beyond that, studies have shown that forgetting to floss can increase your risk of heart disease and Alzheimer’s.

27 Overbooking yourself

Packing your days too full can cause all kinds of problems that will sap your youthful energy, says Lydia Noyes, a health and wellness expert for lifestyle website HighYa.com. For example, shorting yourself on sleep can lead to hardened arteries and lackluster skin. Likewise, too much stress from feeling overworked can manifest itself physically as wrinkles and grey hairs. Instead of booking yourself from the time your alarm clock blares to the time you hit the hay, be sure to block in some downtime.

28 Bleaching your hair

Think twice before bleaching your hair at the salon. Sure, sporting a head of highlights might help you fit in with the younger crowd, but it could also lead to premature hair loss and hair thinning. According to AAD, frequent bleaching—along with using a blow dryer every day and overusing hairspray—”can cause the hair to break.”

29 Sitting for prolonged periods of time

Though you’ve probably heard that sitting is the new smoking, you might not realize just how much it can affect the aging process. A 2012 study published in the Journal of Aging Research found that those who were sedentary for more than four hours a day were associated with lower odds of “aging successfully,” due to a combination of physical, psychological, and social health. Conversely, those who were sedentary for fewer than two hours a day were 43 percent more likely to age successfully.

Sitting for extended periods can decrease oxygen intake and atrophy your muscles. These factors contribute to weight gain and inhibit your body’s production of feel-good endorphins, such as dopamine.

30 Slouching at your desk

While sitting itself is bad for you, the way that you sit can also impact aging. Among other things, bad posture can lead to kyphosis, also known as Dowager’s hump, the abnormal curvature of the spine that’s common in the elderly.

” becoming more and more common in younger people too due mostly to poor posture sitting at their desks hunching over a computer,” says Lam-Feist. “This habit rounds your upper back and can weaken your spine by placing constant stress on it. This can lead to pain, arthritis and, of course, the physical change of a curved, rounded spine.”

31 Letting your hypertension go unmanaged

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, has been linked to everything from heart failure to metabolic syndrome. And recently, researchers also discovered that hypertension can lead to Alzheimer’s disease down the line. In his 2018 study published in Cardiovascular Research, study coordinator Guiseppe Lembo explained that “there was a deterioration of white matter fibers connecting brain areas typically involved in attention, emotions, and memory” in patients with high blood pressure.

32 Living in a highly polluted environment

This may be more a lifestyle choice than a habit, but if you tend to prefer cities with high levels of air pollution, it could accelerate the aging process. “Studies have been done in urban areas where there are high levels of particles and chemicals in the air that show that living around such high levels are associated with increased visible signs of aging such as age spots and wrinkles,” says Emilia Javorsky, MD, co-founder and chief scientific officer of skincare company Sundaily.

33 Having a long commute

Long commutes are far from fun. And, as it turns out, spending hours each day in the car is just as bad for your health as it is for your sanity.

” raises your cortisol level, it raises your adrenaline level, it actually raises your risk of having a heart attack during and for about an hour after you’re doing this. So, there are direct physical threats,” Richard Jackson, professor emeritus of environmental health sciences at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, explained to Healthline. Unless you absolutely love that job that’s two hours away from your house, it might be time to find something closer to home. And for some new habits to adopt in place of these fast-aging ones, here are 50 Doctor-Approved Habits You Should Totally Steal.

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Could your thoughts make you age faster?

Jenn Liv

How can one person bask in the sunshine of good health, while another person looks old before her time? Humans have been asking this question for millennia, and recently, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to scientists that the differences between people’s rates of aging lie in the complex interactions among genes, social relationships, environments and lifestyles. Even though you are born with a particular set of genes, the way you live can influence how they express themselves. Some lifestyle factors may even turn genes on or shut them off.

Deep within the genetic heart of all our cells are telomeres, or repeating segments of noncoding DNA that live at the ends of the chromosomes. They form caps at the ends of the chromosomes and keep the genetic material from unraveling. Shortening with each cell division, they help determine how fast a cell ages. When they become too short, the cell stops dividing altogether. This isn’t the only reason a cell can become senescent — there are other stresses on cells we don’t yet understand very well — but short telomeres are one of the major reasons human cells grow old. We’ve devoted most of our careers to studying telomeres, and one extraordinary discovery from our labs (and seen at other labs) is that telomeres can actually lengthen.

What this means: Aging is a dynamic process that could possibly be accelerated or slowed — and, in some aspects, even reversed. To an extent, it has surprised us and the rest of the scientific community that telomeres do not simply carry out the commands issued by your genetic code. Your telomeres are listening to you. The foods you eat, your response to challenges, the amount of exercise you get, and many other factors appear to influence your telomeres and can prevent premature aging at the cellular level. One of the keys to enjoying good health is simply doing your part to foster healthy cell renewal.

People who score high on measures of cynical hostility have shorter telomeres.

Scientists have learned that several thought patterns appear to be unhealthy for telomeres, and one of them is cynical hostility. Cynical hostility is defined by high anger and frequent thoughts that other people cannot be trusted. Someone with hostility doesn’t just think, “I hate to stand in long lines at the grocery store”; they think, “That other shopper deliberately sped up and beat me to my rightful position in the line!” — and then they seethe.

People who score high on measures of cynical hostility tend to get more cardiovascular disease, metabolic disease and often die at younger ages. They also have shorter telomeres. In a study of British civil servants, men who scored high on measures of cynical hostility had shorter telomeres than men whose hostility scores were low. The most hostile men were 30 percent more likely to have a combination of short telomeres and high telomerase (an enzyme in cells that helps keep telomeres in good shape) — a profile that seems to reflect the unsuccessful attempts of telomerase to protect telomeres when they are too short.

These men had the opposite of a healthy response to stress. Ideally, your body responds to stress with a spike in cortisol and blood pressure, followed by a quick return to normal levels. Instead, when these men were exposed to stress, their diastolic blood pressure and cortisol levels were blunted, a sign their stress response was, basically, broken from overuse. Their systolic blood pressure increased, but instead of returning to normal levels, it stayed elevated for a long time afterward.

The hostile men also had fewer social connections and less optimism. In terms of their physical and psychosocial health, they were highly vulnerable to an early disease-span, the years in a person’s life marked by the diseases of aging, which include cardiovascular disease, arthritis, a weakened immune system and more. Women tend to have lower hostility — and it’s less related to heart disease for them — but there are other psychological culprits affecting women’s health, such as depression.

When you ruminate, stress sticks around in the body long after the reason for the stress is over.

Pessimism is the second thought pattern that has been shown to have negative effects on telomeres. When our research team conducted a study on pessimism and telomere length, we found that people who scored high on a pessimism inventory had shorter telomeres. This was a small study of about 35 women, but similar results have been found in other studies, including a study of over 1,000 men. It also fits with a large body of evidence that pessimism is a risk factor for poor health. When pessimists develop an aging-related illness, like cancer or heart disease, the illness tends to progress faster. Like cynically hostile people — and people with short telomeres, in general — they tend to die earlier.

Rumination — the act of rehashing problems over and over — is the third destructive thought pattern. How do you tell rumination from harmless reflection? Reflection is the natural, introspective analysis about why things happen a certain way. It may cause you some healthy discomfort, but rumination feels awful and never leads to a solution, only to more ruminating.

When you ruminate, stress sticks around in the body long after the reason for the stress is over, in the form of prolonged high blood pressure, elevated heart rate, and higher levels of cortisol. Your vagus nerve, which helps you feel calm and keeps your heart and digestive system steady, withdraws its activity — and remains withdrawn long after the stressor is over.

In a study, we examined daily stress responses in healthy women who were family caregivers. The more the women ruminated after a stressful event, the lower the telomerase in their aging CD8 cells (the crucial immune cells that send out proinflammatory signals when they are damaged). People who ruminate experience more depression and anxiety, which are, in turn, associated with shorter telomeres.

The fourth thought pattern is thought suppression, the attempt to push away unwanted thoughts and feelings. The late Daniel Wegener, a Harvard social psychologist, once came across this line from the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy: “Try to pose for yourself this task: not to think of a polar bear, and you will see that the cursed thing will come to mind every minute.” Wegener put this idea to the test through a series of experiments and identified a phenomenon he called ironic error, meaning that the more forcefully you push your thoughts away, the louder they call out for your attention.

Ironic error may also be harmful to telomeres. If we try to manage stressful thoughts by sinking the bad thoughts into the deepest waters of our subconscious, it can backfire. The chronically stressed brain’s resources are already taxed — we call this cognitive load — making it even harder to successfully suppress thoughts. Instead of less stress, we get more.

In a small study, greater avoidance of negative feelings and thoughts was associated with shorter telomeres. Avoidance alone is probably not enough to harm telomeres, but it can lead to chronic stress arousal and depression, both of which may shorten your telomeres.

Thought awareness can promote stress resilience. With time, you learn to encounter ruminations and say, “That’s just a thought.”

The final thought pattern is mind wandering. Harvard University psychologists Matthew Killingsworth (TED Talk: Want to be happier? Stay in the moment) and Daniel Gilbert (TED Talk: The surprising science of happiness) used a “track your happiness” iPhone app to ask thousands of people questions about what activity they are engaged in, what their minds are doing, and how happy they are. Killingsworth and Gilbert discovered people spend half of the day thinking about something other than what we’re doing. They also found that when people are not thinking about what they’re doing, they’re not as happy as when they’re engaged. In particular, negative mind wandering — thinking negative thoughts, or wishing you were somewhere else — was more likely to lead to unhappiness in their next moments.

Together with Eli Puterman, we studied close to 250 healthy, low-stress women who ranged from 55 to 65 years old and assessed their tendency to mind-wander. We asked them two questions: “How often in the past week have you had moments when you felt totally focused or engaged in doing what you were doing at the moment? How often in the past week have you had any moments when you felt you didn’t want to be where you were, or doing what you were doing at the moment?” Then we measured the women’s telomeres.

The women with the highest levels of self-reported mind-wandering had telomeres that were shorter by around 200 base pairs. (To put this in context, a typical 35-year-old has roughly 7,500 base pairs of telomeres; a 65-year-old, 4,800 base pairs.) This was regardless of how much stress they had in their lives.

Some mind-wandering can be creative, of course. But when you are thinking negative thoughts about the past, you are more likely to be unhappy, and you may possibly even experience higher levels of resting stress hormones.

The negative thought patterns we’ve described are automatic, exaggerated and controlling. They take over your mind; it’s as if they tie a blindfold around your brain so you can’t see what is really going on around you. But when you become more aware of your thoughts, you take off the blindfold. You won’t necessarily stop the thoughts, but you have more clarity. Activities that promote better thought awareness include most types of meditation, along with most forms of mind-body exercises, including long-distance running.

Thought awareness can promote stress resilience. With time, you learn to encounter your own ruminations or problematic thoughts and say, “That’s just a thought. It’ll fade.” That is a secret about the human mind: We don’t need to believe everything our thoughts tell us. Or, as the bumper sticker says, “Don’t believe everything you think.”

Excerpted from the new book The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel. Reprinted with permission from Grand Central Publishing, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. © 2017 Elizabeth Blackburn and Elissa Epel.

Watch Elizabeth Blackburn’s TED Talk now:

About the authors

Elizabeth Blackburn was awarded a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2009 for her pioneering work in discovering the molecular nature of telomeres. She is president of the Salk Institute.

Elissa Epel is a health psychologist who studies stress, aging and obesity. She is the director of UCSF’s Aging, Metabolism and Emotions Center and associate director of the Center for Health and Community.

  • aging
  • book excerpt
  • Dan Gilbert
  • DNA
  • elissa epel
  • elizabeth blackburn
  • matthew killingsworth
  • psychology
  • telomeres

We all try to make good choices, or at least avoid bad choices when we can, right? But unfortunately, even seemingly harmless choices can end up having unforeseen consequences! In fact, I recently learned about a whole set of behaviors that share the unfortunate consequence of accelerated aging. Finding out that a few bad habits could be undermining the effort I put into taking care of my skin and body was initially pretty distressing! But now I can take steps to avoid these habits in the future, so I know it’s a good thing in the long run. 🙂

Today I’ll be sharing a list of those behaviors that may be aging you. Since I don’t think any of us “mature women” are eager to age any faster than necessary, I think you’ll find this information as enlightening as I did!

Related: This Is The Cheap And Easy Way To Solve Your Skin Problems

13 Habits That May Be Aging You

1. Not Wearing Sunscreen

If you don’t take the time to apply sunscreen before spending time outside, you won’t have any protection against the aging effects of the sun! Sun exposure contributes to wrinkles, age spots, and sagging skin. You can make sure your face is always protected from the sun’s rays by adding a daily moisturizer with SPF to your beauty routine.

2. Sleeping On A Rough Pillowcase

If you’re sleeping on a rough or cheap pillowcase, it could be contributing to wrinkles! Your skin gets thinner and more sensitive as you age, so little things like your pillowcase can have a big effect. To avoid wrinkles, consider swapping your old pillowcase out for a silk pillowcase.

3. Being A Perfectionist

It’s easy to feel the pressure to be “perfect,” especially in the age of social media. But holding yourself to an impossibly high standard may be aging you! The swirling doubts and negative thoughts that plague perfectionists can trigger the production of stress hormones, and stress hormones contribute to aging.

4. Not Taking Care Of Your Teeth

Your teeth are one of the first places to start showing signs of age. To keep them looking nice and white, make sure to brush and floss daily, and see your dentist for regular checkups. You can also try a homemade teeth whitening treatment, like the one at the link below!

Related: This Easy Teeth Whitening Treatment Will Save You A Fortune

5. Ignoring Your Mental Health

It may come as a surprise, but experiencing psychological distress such as depression and anxiety can actually result in accelerated aging. Your mental health and physical health are linked, and you need to take care of both of them! If you’ve been feeling down for more than a couple of weeks, make sure to seek the help of a professional.

6. Skipping Social Events

It can be tempting to stay in when Girls’ Night Out rolls around, but maintaining your friendships is actually good for your health! Those with a strong social network of friends and family tend to live longer (and happier!) lives than those without social support.

7. Eating Junk Food

Eating all that junk food may be hurting more than just your waistline! Choosing a diet of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains will help lower your risk of heart disease and protect against degenerative diseases.

8. Having A Loaded To-Do List

As I mentioned above, stress can have all sorts of negative effects on your body that contribute to aging. Stress can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and even stroke. Find ways to relax, and ask for help when you need it!

9. Starting Every Day With Coffee

Starting your mornings with a cup of coffee may not be the best choice. Coffee lowers levels of DHEA, a hormone that reduces inflammation and keeps your skin looking youthful. If you don’t want to cut out coffee completely, try swapping it out for a cup of green tea a few times a week!

10. Hunching Over Your Computer

Hunching over a computer all day is terrible for your spine! It puts stress on the front part of your spine and can even lead to arthritis. Make sure to practice good posture if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer like I do!

11. Using A Straw

I never thought that sipping from a straw could contribute to aging, but it’s true! Regularly using a straw can contribute to wrinkles around your mouth (not to mention that straws just aren’t good for the environment.) Opt to sip straight from the cup instead.

12. Not Wearing Sunglasses

You may not see the point to wearing sunglasses, but they do more than you might think! Sunglasses can actually protect the skin around your eyes from the aging effects of the sun. This means fewer wrinkles, and protection against cancer and cataracts. Find a comfortable pair of polarized sunglasses and keep them in your purse or car.

13. Not Spending Time On Hobbies

When you have a lot going on, spending time on hobbies can seem like a waste. But researchers from George Washington University found that people who engaged regularly in a hobby had fewer doctor’s visits and needed less medication than their hobby-less peers. Spending time on your hobbies is good for your health, and you’ll be happier for it too!

For more anti-aging tips and tricks, be sure to check out my eBook Aging Gracefully! You can buy it in my shop, or download it for free if you’re an OGT Plus member!

I may include affiliate links to products sold by others, but only when they are relevant and helpful. I always offer my own genuine recommendation. Learn more.

Hi, I’m Jillee!

I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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