9 Habits That Accelerate Aging, According To Science

9 Habits That Accelerate Aging, According To Science

There is no escape from aging, nor should we feel pressured to give the impression that we have escaped it. But looking much older or younger than your biological age isn’t just about genetics.

Lifestyle can really make a difference in your age and how you look. Dr Noel Young, associated with clinical innovations at home blood testing company Thriva (thriva.co), says: “While our life expectancy may increase, our lifespan, the time we spend healthy, is still well below expectations.

“Chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, which in most cases are lifestyle related, are very common and are associated with faster aging.”

Young notes that “these conditions are linked to shorter telomeres” (structures that cap the end of our chromosomes and protect them from damage), but adds, “The good news is that making certain lifestyle changes can help prevent chronic diseases and the faster aging that accompanies them.”

These are the 11 lifestyle choices that can make you age faster.

1. Drink too much

A new study from the University of Oxford has found new evidence that alcohol accelerates biological aging by damaging DNA. Experts looked at data from nearly 250,000 people and found that those who drank more than 17 units of alcohol per week had shorter telomeres.

Dr. Anya Topiwala, study leader, explains: “Shortened telomeres (more advanced biological aging) increase the risk of later diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and heart disease. Obviously, we can’t change our genetics, but we can potentially change our lifestyle by reducing alcohol consumption, increasing exercise and quitting smoking, if we are to reduce the risk of further biological aging. fast.

2. The Sun

Several studies have shown that sunlight can age skin: A 2013 French study found that UV exposure was responsible for 80% of the visible signs of facial aging.

3. Spend a lot of time sitting

We are becoming more and more sedentary and as we get older it is more difficult to build muscle. Young says we lose about 1% of our muscle mass each year from age 35, putting us at risk for osteoporosis, frailty and falls with injuries, such as hip fractures, as we age. we’re getting old.

“So stay active in your daily life,” he says. “Try things like walking 4,000 to 6,000 steps a day or taking the stairs. Do some regular form of exercise that you enjoy, like swimming, yoga, or sports. Even simple changes, like using ‘standing desk can help keep your legs and muscles strong.’

4. Smoking

Smoking is thought to affect the production of collagen, the protein that keeps skin healthy and elastic. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, which is why the skin begins to sag and wrinkle. Smoking can accelerate this process, causing premature aging.

(Gareth Fuller/PA)

(Gareth Fuller/PA)

A 2009 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found four factors that can help prevent nearly 80% of chronic diseases often associated with aging. Research has indicated that these are: never smoking, having a body mass index below 30, performing 3.5 hours per week or more of physical activity, and following a healthy diet with a high intake of fruits and vegetables. , wholemeal bread and low meat consumption .

A similar 2008 study from the University of Cambridge found that combining healthy behaviors could add 14 years to your life.

5. Poor diet

Fiber-rich foods like vegetables, beans, grains and fruits are linked to longer telomeres and better lifespan, says Young, who says these foods are packed with nutrients like vitamins C and E and beta-carotene and other antioxidants. The fiber they contain is also an important nutrient that helps regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol levels, and maintain a healthy gut biome.

“It’s also important to include sources of healthy fats like fish, avocados and nuts,” she says. “These foods are very important in dietary habits such as the Mediterranean diet, which may explain why they are particularly beneficial to health.”

Certain foods are linked to poorer health outcomes and shorter telomeres. These include foods like red and processed meats and sugary drinks. “It’s best to limit them as much as possible,” Young points out.

6. Being too stressed

Long-term stress is associated with shorter telomeres, and Young says it’s a good idea to actively try to manage stress. “You can start by noticing what triggers your stress by journaling and relaxation therapies like deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation and exercise like yoga can also help. If you suffer from anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, it is important to talk to your GP and seek appropriate help.”

8. Skip the vitamins

Vitamin D is an important nutrient to help reduce the effects of aging, Young says, because low levels are linked to a shorter lifespan. “It is recommended to be taken as a supplement in the UK during the winter months (October-March) as it is quite difficult to obtain from food sources. Sunlight is a good source in the summer, but aim reasonable levels (and, of course, wear sunscreen).

According to a 2022 Italian study, taking an omega-3 supplement can increase telomere length. Young suggests that anti-inflammatory compounds have other beneficial effects, such as helping to control blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, which is beneficial for heart health.

9. Lack of sleep

Shorter telomeres are associated with a lack of sleep, says Young, who notes that sleep deprivation also increases the risk of unhealthy behaviors like not exercising and eating sugary and fatty foods, which increases the risk of sickness.

“It’s important to get seven to nine hours of good quality sleep a day,” he stresses. “Pay attention to your bedtime routine and surroundings, avoid caffeinated drinks after lunch and screens, and exercise an hour or two before bed. And make sure, as much as possible, that your sleeping environment is dark, quiet and cool.

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