The habits we develop early on make a big difference later in our years in how we age and our overall health. Living a healthy lifestyle and adopting positive habits helps maintain a youthful look and spirit longer, according to doctors. Eat This, Not That! Health talked to experts who explained the everyday things that might age you faster. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson, aka "The VibrantDoc", a recognized leader in functional medicine and author of the new self-care book Vibrant: A Groundbreaking Program to Get Energized, Reverse Aging, and Glow says, "It's amazing how much of an effect posture can have on your body's ability to keep you feel young and vibrant. Bad posture can lead to chronic back and neck pain, which can lead to joint and limb pain, which can lead to less movement and a more sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, which can lead to premature aging, disability, and early death. Poor posture can worsen arthritis, decrease circulation, make you feel more stressed, disturb sleep, and even lead to depressed sexual function, all of which can age your body and your attitude. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association that looked at health care spending in the US, in 2016, we spent $134 billion on lower back and neck pain, which is more than people spent on all forms of cancer combined. That is more significant than people think, especially for a problem that could largely be remedied by standing up straight, so that ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles are in a straight line."
Working a desk job or just not being active ages you quicker, Dr. Stephenson explains. "The health effects of sitting all day are shocking, and so is the amount of time most people spend sitting. Not only can sitting all day lead to poor posture and chronic pain, but sitting all day increases your risk of heart disease and heart failure, blood clots, osteoporosis, arthritis, fatigue, and muscle weakness and frailty with aging, both of which increase the risk of injury. It decreases sleep quality and increases blood sugar problems, which can lead to metabolic diseases like diabetes and obesity. According to the CDC, more than 15% of adults in the U.S. are considered physically inactive, with those numbers reaching 30% or higher in some states. The good news is that taking at least 7500 steps per day can reverse these risks, but the bad news is that all the benefits from a vigorous daily workout (say an hour at the gym) can be completely undone if you spend the rest of your day sitting. Instead, it's better to get up and move around for at least three minutes every 30 minutes. A 2021 study showed that this alone can have a significant impact on blood sugar control. That may seem like a lot of interruption time in your work day, but it will pay off with better health, more energy, a clearer mind, and the ability to work more efficiently (and take fewer sick days!)."
"Eating a high-sugar diet can trigger or contribute to chronic inflammation, which scientists are beginning to understand is implicated in just about every common chronic disease that degrades health and speeds aging, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and autoimmune disease," Dr. Stephenson states. "Sugar also ramps up the production of advanced glycation end products, or AGEs, which break down skin fibers leading to thinner skin, more wrinkles, and oxidative stress, making you look as well as feel older. Instead, stick to whole fruit for your sweet treats. You will feel better, sugar cravings will decrease, and your skin will look fantastic."
Shorting Yourself on Sleep
According to Dr. Stephenson, "Getting a good night's sleep—7 to 9 hours of quality sleep—is one of the most important things you can do to prevent premature aging. Conversely, nothing ages the body, the skin, and your brain more than not getting enough sleep. A UCLA study showed that just a single night of insufficient sleep can make cells age more quickly! Another study from University Hospitals Case Medical Center showed that people who don't sleep as well had more signs of skin aging and slower cell turnover. Sleep also keeps your brain young. While you sleep, your glymphatic system flushes the brain to remove the waste that accumulates during the day, and this only happens during deep sleep, which most people tend to get during the first half of the night. Go to bed too late and your brain could get less time in the rinse cycle, which could increase your risk of developing cognitive issues like dementia."
Getting Too Much Sun
Integrative Cardiology/herbalist Dr. Patrick Fratellone, MD RH FIM FACC says, "Although the sun is excellent for Vitamin D there are effects from the ultraviolet rays. These rays penetrate the skin damaging the elastic fibers that keep your skin firm. The more the ultraviolet rays, the more you will develop wrinkles. We also know that sunlight is responsible for the dark spots, also known as liver spots on your hands and face." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.