Each year, hundreds of billions of dollars are spent by consumers across the globe in an effort to defy aging. Whether it’s an appointment at your local cosmetic surgeon’s office for a little lipo or botox, or a weekend spent at the spa, or an afternoon at the salon, the sad truth is that the one thing we all have in common is that eventually we all get older.
But one other commonality we share is that each of us has the power to prolong our youth just by cutting out a few things from our daily routines.
It’s simple, right? Take a look at a few things that are notorious for speeding up the aging process. A few might surprise you.
Stress, anxiety and an irregular bedtime schedule are all well known contributors to the one thing that will age us quicker than anything else: sleep deprivation. According to a recent study performed at the Mayo Clinic, 28% of adults now report to getting less than six hours of sleep a night.
Studies in the past have shown that a lack of sleep is linked to diabetes, high blood pressure and memory problems, but is also a key player in preventing the necessary rest that your skin, muscles and body require to heal and rejuvenate.
And that’s not all. A lack of sleep has also been linked to weight gain. The study at Mayo Clinic used 17 healthy people over eight days and subjected half of them to a proper night’s sleep, while the other half received about 90 minutes less—and in broken-sleep increments. As it turns out, the subjects who had less sleep tended to eat over 500 calories more per day, suggesting that a lack of sleep alters appetite hormones and increases the amount of daily food intake.
Speaking of obesity, there is no better way to damage healthy skin cells than with a poor diet. A recent study using mice found that mice that were fed only 50% of their daily calories lived up to 40% longer. Similarly, if you begin to eat a healthier diet, you will delay your aging process.
That’s not to say you should starve yourself, however. What you should strive for is a diet rich in antioxidants (berries and fresh greens), high in fiber and lean meats and low in saturated fats and refined sugars. Put down that diet-soda and drink a glass of water. You can add fruit or cucumber slices to help improve the taste if needed.
If you love red meat, for instance, then you might want to consider this: eating ten portions of red meat a week can damage your eyesight and put you at risk of AMD by 47%!
And did you know that AGE is the abbreviation for ‘advanced glycation end-products,’ which are sugar molecules that attack your body’s skin cells and cause the breakdown of collagen and elastin? Yep, those are the proteins in your skin that give you that healthy, youthful, glowing complexion. So, if you want to look younger, eat less sugar. There’s no way around it.
Listen up. Your environment definitely helps age you. Think about the air you breathe in daily at your office, or the smog and pollution outdoors. Poor air circulation will show up on all our pores and we need to take extra care in cleansing and exfoliating dead skin cells to regain that healthy, rejuvenated glow.
In addition, if you love sunshine then you need to know that the sun’s rays will damage your skin permanently. Unfortunately, there’s no coming back from this. Simple measures, such as sunglasses and regular use of sunblock, however, will protect skin from burning, wrinkling and drying up.
And remember, some of the make-up you wear might disguise your wrinkles, but it might dry your skin as well.
There is really no better way to put this. Just as is the case with a poor diet, a body that doesn’t meet the required amount of exercise will deteriorate much quicker than one that enjoys a healthy lifestyle.
Once you start eating healthier, then you’ll want to start working out more. That’s not to say you need to suddenly endure the gym’s most intensive and arduous spin-class (save that one for a couple months down the road!). In fact, most gym aficionados will recommend newcomers start small and work their way up.
Studies have shown that people who sit for long periods of time have a higher chance at an increased blood pressure and abdominal fat—both contributors of aging your heart quicker.
A proper amount of exercise will not just have you looking slimmer, younger and healthier, but will also promote bone health, boost your immunity system, strengthen your muscles and increase your flexibility. And the list of benefits goes on…
And the best thing about exercise? It’s never too late—you are never too old—to start! Speak to your doctor before starting any rigorous exercise plan and start at 30 minutes a day.
Here is some good news about alcohol. The American Journal of Epidemiology found that one or two drinks a day could lower your chances of heart disease. Alcohol also improves bone density, but in moderation, or course. Over consumption will age you with dry, blotchy skin, circles around your eyes, and probably a lot of poor decisions… Not to mention potential liver and kidney failure.
This one is simple. The deadly effect of cigarettes becomes evident on pretty much every part of your body, inside and out, yet some 46 million Americans are still smoking this highly addictive drug. If you really want to age much quicker then there’s no better way than to light up.
These are the major things to tackle if you want to remain youthful. Eat a proper diet, get enough exercise, protect yourself from the outdoors.