7 Lifestyle Habits That Have Anti-Aging Effects

Is there a secret to aging gracefully?

While it’s true that genetics plays a role in how we age, it’s certainly not the only factor that determines how well we age.

Whether you’re already feeling and seeing the signs of aging or you’ve decided to commit to slowly easing into it, some habits can make a big difference in how well you age.

Here are seven natural ways to help you combat the effects of aging through changes in your diet, lifestyle, and attitude towards life: 

1. Develop Regular Sleeping Patterns

Sleep deprivation can cause depression and hormone imbalances. Sleep deprivation even affects the moisture levels of your skin and lowers skin pH levels which make your skin look less youthful. But while not getting enough sleep ages your skin more rapidly; chronic sleep deprivation can ultimately lead to disease.

Mathew Walker, UC Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience and senior author of the article published in the journal Neuron, Sleep and Human Aging says, “Nearly every disease killing us in later life has a causal link to lack of sleep.” [1]

2. Moderate Alcohol Intake

If you enjoy alcohol, the good news is that moderate consumption of it has been associated with a reduced likelihood of several diseases. According to a study published on PubMed, light alcohol consumption reduces the incidence of coronary heart disease (CHD), ischemic stroke, peripheral arterial disease, CHD mortality, and all-cause mortality. [2]

However, it’s crucial to mention that while light intake of alcohol can be beneficial, too much alcohol consumption can be detrimental to your health.

3. Avoid Chronic Stress and Depression

Emotional distress speeds up cellular aging by shortening DNA telomeres. Longer telomeres have been linked to longevity while shortened telomeres have been associated with chronic diseases and premature death.

A research team led by Owen Wolkowitz, MD, professor of psychiatry at UC San Francisco (UCSF) found that over time, untreated depression can shorten telomeres, making people prone to diseases typically associated with advanced age such as osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. [3]

Make time daily to be in nature, listen to your favorite music, talk with friends and perhaps take on the practice of regular meditation.

4. Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

In general, all vegetables and fruits are great for your skin. However, certain fruits that are high in antioxidants can help your skin become more firm and clear. Kiwis, watermelons, mangos, and berries have potent antioxidant properties that inhibit free radical production, protecting cells from damage.

As for vegetables, tomatoes contain lycopene, another antioxidant that supports healthy skin. And just one cup of kale a day contains almost 12 times your recommended daily value of vitamin K which wards off heart disease and osteoporosis and is great for clear skin.

Brussel sprouts and other vegetables from the Brassica oleracea family which include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard green, and kohlrabi have gained their reputation for their health and anti-aging properties. In fact, studies have been conducted on how the phytochemical sulforaphane, in these vegetables may help fight cancer. They also contain vitamin C which defends the body against cancers of the mouth and the larynx. Their high anti-oxidizing properties also mean healthier and glowing skin.

5. Engage in Physical Activity

By taking part in any endurance sport 30 – 40 minutes per day, four-five days per week, there can be a significant effect on how your body ages.

Scientists have long been studying how moderate physical activity can slow down the aging process in humans. In a study published in the Journal of Preventive Medicine, the data on more than 5,000 adults in the U.S. showed that adults with consistent levels of physical activity had a “biological aging advantage” of nine years compared to sedentary adults. [4] Physical activity also increases BDNF, a brain growth factor that helps brain cells thrive.

6. Maintain Healthy Social Networks

Friendships not only enrich your life but improve your health. A study from researchers at the University of North Carolina found that people with positive, supportive relationships are also healthier and tend to have lower blood pressure and levels of inflammation, and even a smaller body mass index and waist circumferences than those without these types of positive relationships in their lives. [5]

7. Skip Sugar

Excessive sugar consumption will lead to weight gain and sustained high insulin levels that lead to diabetes and other chronic diseases. According to a study by the American Medical Association, consumption of added sugar was associated with increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease as consuming too much sugar alters fat metabolism of an otherwise healthy person. [6]

Conclusion

These mentioned lifestyle changes aren’t just habits that you should start to develop as a way to prevent or reverse the signs of aging. Overall, they will lead you to self-improvement and allow you to enjoy a better quality of life, regardless of how old you are.

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References :

[1] Bryce A. Mander, Joseph R. Winer, Matthew P. Walker. Sleep and human aging. Neuron. 2017.02.004

[2] Movva R, Figueredo VM. Alcohol and the heart: to abstain or not to abstain? Int J Cardiol. 2013 Apr 15;164(3):267-76

[3] Darrow SM, Verhoeven JE, Révész D, Lindqvist D, Penninx BW, Delucchi KL, Wolkowitz OM, Mathews CA. The Association Between Psychiatric Disorders and Telomere Length: A Meta-Analysis Involving 14,827 Persons. Psychosom Med. 2016 Sep; 78(7):776-87. PMID: 27359174; PMCID: PMC5003712

[4] A.Tucker. Physical activity and telomere length in U.S. men and women: An NHANES investigation. Preventive Medicine. 2017.04.027

[5] Yang Claire Yanga, Courtney Boena, Karen Gerkena, Ting Lid, Kristen Schorppa,and Kathleen Mullan Harrisa. Social relationships and physiological determinants of longevity across the human life span. PNAS. 2016-01-19

[6] Quanhe Yang, PhD1; Zefeng Zhang, MD, PhD1; Edward W. Gregg, PhD2; et al W. Dana Flanders, MD, ScD3; Robert Merritt, MA1; Frank B. Hu, MD, PhD4,5. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):516-524.

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