8 things science says will speed up aging

8 things science says will speed up aging

There’s no escaping aging, and we shouldn’t feel pressure to look like we’ve escaped it either. But looking much older or younger than your biological age isn’t just down to genetics.

Lifestyle can really make a difference in how old you feel and look. Dr Noel Young, Clinical Innovation Associate at home blood testing company Thriva (thriva.co), says: “While our life expectancy may be increasing, our health time, our time that we spend in good health, is still much lower than expected.

“Chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, which in most cases are caused by lifestyle, 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 adopting certain changes in the style of life can help prevent chronic diseases and the faster aging it causes. accompanies them”.

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

drinking too much

A new study from the University of Oxford has found new evidence that alcohol accelerates biological ageing, 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.

Study leader Dr Anya Topiwala says: “Shortened telomeres, a more advanced biological ageing, increase the risks of later diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. Obviously we cannot change our genetics, but we can potentially change our lifestyles by reducing alcohol consumption, increasing exercise 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 exposure to UV rays was responsible for 80% of the visible signs of facial aging.

Sitting a lot

We are becoming more and more sedentary, and as we age, it becomes more difficult to build muscle. Young says that each year we lose about 1% of our muscle mass starting at age 35, putting us at risk for osteoporosis, frailty and falls with injuries like hip fractures as we age.

“So keep active in your day-to-day life,” she says. “Try things like walking 4,000 to 6,000 steps a day or taking the stairs. Get some regular exercise you enjoy, like swimming, yoga, or playing sports. Even simple changes like using a desk standing 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 is why the skin begins to sag and wrinkle. Smoking can speed up this process, causing premature aging.

(Gareth Fuller/PA)

(son PA)

A 2009 study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found four factors that can help prevent nearly 80% of the chronic diseases often associated with aging. The research cited them as; never smoke, have a body mass index of less than 30, do 3.5 hours a week or more of physical activity and follow a healthy diet with a high consumption of fruit and vegetables, whole grain bread and low consumption of meat.

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

A bad diet

Fiber-rich foods like vegetables, beans, whole grains and fruits are linked to longer telomeres and an improved lifespan, 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 levels and maintain a healthy gut biome.

“It’s also important to include healthy fat sources like fish, avocado and nuts,” she says. “These foods count heavily in eating patterns like the Mediterranean diet, so they may be particularly beneficial to your health.”

Certain foods are linked to worse health outcomes and shorter telomeres. These include foods such as red and processed meat and sugary drinks. “It’s best to limit them 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 actively try to manage stress. “You can start by noticing what triggers your stress by keeping a journal, and relaxation therapies like deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation and exercise like yoga can also help. If you suffer from anxiety, depression or PTSD, it’s important that you talk to your GP and get the right help.”

skipping vitamins

Vitamin D is an important nutrient to help reduce the effects of aging, Young says, since low levels are linked to a shorter lifespan. “Supplementation is recommended in the UK during the winter months (October-March) as it is quite difficult to obtain through food sources. Sunlight is a good source in the summer, but note- you at reasonable levels (and of course use SPF).

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

lack of sleep

Shorter telomeres are associated with not getting enough sleep, says Young, who notes that sleep deprivation also increases the chance of unhealthy behaviors like not exercising and eating sugary and fatty foods, which increase the risk of disease .

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

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