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Everyday Habits That Age Your Body

These popular habits can age you without realizing it.

Aging is inevitable. But that doesn't mean you're powerless to slow it down a bit. The first thing you can do is stop giving Father Time a helping hand without realizing it, by indulging in everyday habits that actively age your body. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.


Not Getting Enough Sleep

Sad Woman Lying On Bed

Scientists at UCLA found that just one night of bad sleep actually makes older adults' cells age faster. Perhaps not surprising: During sleep, many of the body's vital systems repair and refresh themselves. Poor-quality sleep has been associated with everything from accelerated skin aging to a higher risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, and dementia.

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Eating Too Much Sugar

Smiling young woman having an unhealthy snack, she is taking a delicious pastry out of the fridge

Consuming too many foods high in added sugar can age you inside and out, having a negative effect on everything from your brain to your skin. Researchers have found that eating excessive amounts of sugar can actually cause wrinkles by damaging collagen and elastin, the two proteins that keep our skin young. "Findings from research studies suggest that a diet containing lots of sugar or other refined carbohydrates can accelerate aging," says the American Academy of Dermatology.

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This week, it was reported that cigarette sales went up in 2020 for the first time in 20 years. Taking up smoking remains a very bad move for many reasons. One is that it ages you.  According to a study published in JAMA, researchers found that cigarette smokers had three times the wrinkles of nonsmokers. The hundreds of toxins in cigarette smoke cause blood vessels to constrict, preventing oxygen and nutrients from reaching the skin. "Smoking greatly speeds up how quickly skin ages," says the AAD. "It causes wrinkles and a dull, sallow complexion." 

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Stressing Out

Mature businessman experiencing a headache while working at his desk

"Chronic stress can age you," says Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC, a registered dietitian nutritionist with Root Nutrition & Education. "Inflammation from stress can increase anxiety, poor cognition, and insomnia." Stress management techniques—like regular exercise and relaxation practices such as mindfulness, meditation and deep breathing—can help. 

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Staring At Screens

Woman texting on smartphone

You could be prematurely aging yourself right now. Scientists say that getting too much exposure to blue light, the kind emitted from phones and computer screens, may accelerate aging. A 2019 study published in Aging and Mechanisms of Disease found that blue light can damage cells in the brain and eyes. To avoid this, the researchers recommend getting as much natural light as possible, wearing blue light glasses, and limiting your screen time. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael
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