Anti-aging: 8 Things Science Says Will Accelerate Aging

There’s no escaping aging – nor should we feel the pressure to look like we’ve escaped it. But looking much older or younger than your biological age isn’t just genetic.

Lifestyle can really make a difference to how old you feel and look. dr. Noel Young, clinical innovations associate for the blood testing company Thriva (thriva.co), says: “While our life expectancy may be increasing, our health span – our time spent in good health – still remains much lower than expected.

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

Young points out that “these conditions are related to shorter telomeres” (structures that cover the ends of our chromosomes and protect them from damage), but adds: “The good news is that adopting certain lifestyle changes can lead to chronic diseases and the faster aging can help prevent them.”

Here are the eight lifestyle choices that can help you age faster.

Drinking too much

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

Research leader Dr. Anya Topiwala says: “Telomeres shortened – more advanced biological aging – increase the risk of later diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. Obviously we can’t change our genetics, but we may be able to change our lifestyle by drinking less, exercising more and quitting smoking if we want to reduce the risk of faster biological aging.

The sun

Several studies have shown that sunlight can age the skin – a 2013 French study from 2013 found that UV exposure was responsible for 80% of the visible signs of aging on the face.

a lot of sitting

We sit more and more and as we get older it is harder to build muscle. Young says that from about age 35, we lose about 1% of our muscle mass each year, putting us at risk for osteoporosis, frailty, and falls with injuries such as hip fractures as we age.

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

To smoke

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 causes the skin to become flabby and wrinkled. Smoking can speed up this process and cause premature aging.

(Gareth Fuller/PA)

(PA wire)

A 2009 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, found four factors that can help prevent nearly 80% of chronic diseases commonly associated with aging. The research named these as; never smoke, have a body mass index below 30, exercise for 3.5 hours a week or more, and stick to a healthy diet with a high intake of fruits and vegetables, and whole-wheat bread and low meat consumption.

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

a bad diet

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

“It’s also important to include sources of healthy fats like fish, avocado, and nuts,” he says. “These foods are common in diets such as the Mediterranean diet, which may be why they are particularly beneficial for your health.”

Some foods have been linked to poorer health outcomes and shorter telomeres. These include foods such as red and processed meats and sugary drinks. “It is best to limit these as much as possible,” emphasizes Young.

being too stressed

Long-term stress is associated with shorter telomeres, and Young says it’s a good idea to try to actively manage stress. “You can start by noting what’s causing your stress by keeping a journal, and relaxation therapies such as deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation, and exercise such as yoga can also help. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, or PTSD, it’s important to talk to your doctor and get the right help.”

Skipping vitamins

Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps reduce the effects of aging, Young says, as low levels are linked to a shorter lifespan. “It is recommended to 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 for sensible levels (and wear SPF, of course).

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

Lack of sleep

Shorter telomeres are associated with not getting enough sleep, says Young, pointing out that sleep deprivation also increases the likelihood of unhealthy behaviors, such as not exercising and eating sugary and fatty foods, which increase your risk of disease.

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

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