Walk down any high street today and you’ll see a deluge of testaments to youth and beauty. You’ll see them on the sides of buses, on billboards twenty feet high and in every store window you happen to walk past. We live in a society that’s unhealthily obsessed with youth to the point where we’re getting more and more paranoid about aging from a younger age. We’re getting botox in our twenties and spending a fortune on skin treatments and anti wrinkle creams to keep those evil signs of aging at bay. While, of course you’re feel free to grow old as disgracefully as we want to, it’s another testament to our image obsessed society that we’re far more concerned with what’s going on at the surface level than what’s going on “under the hood”. The very same people who we see making appointments at the botox clinic and standing in line at the cosmetics counter are also picking up their purchases and walking straight into McDonalds for a Big Mac, large fries and a soda; little knowing that all that saturated fat, sugar and sodium are doing so much damage to their bodies, that even if they happened to pick up the most potent anti-wrinkle cream in the world (which they probably haven’t) there’s little chance that it can mitigate the effects of such disastrous food choices.
While this may be an extreme example, the fact is that the modern lifestyle is not conducive to us helping ourselves to age healthily and at a reasonable rate. Indeed, our over reliance on convenience foods, misguided practices in our exercise routines and even spending hours and hours at a desk can cause us to age prematurely. Here are some ways in which most of us are making our bodies older and we don’t even know it…
You’re drinking too much coffee and not enough water
Does your day start with a hot coffee, followed by a latte on the way to work and a few more espresso shots here and there to get you through the day followed by a relaxing glass of wine after work and maybe one or two more with dinner? While the idea that coffee’s diuretic properties actually dehydrate you has been debunked fairly recently, there are still some experts who maintain that it dulls and dehydrates the skin, making you look older. There’s one thing for sure, though, all that caffeine is bound to interfere with your sleeping which isn’t going to be doing your body any favors (more on that later). Your body is composed of trillions of cells and they all need plenty of water to function optimally. Not tea. Not coffee. Not milk, and certainly not soda… water!
One of the biggest obstacles to getting enough water is that we struggle to keep track of how much we consume. A good rule of thumb is to take your weight in pounds, divide it by two and convert it into ounces. That’s what you should be drinking.
All that partying is going to catch up with you
Sure, your younger years are all about having fun, but if you’re burning the candle at both ends, working all day and partying all night, you can’t expect it not to catch up with you. No matter how rigorous your skincare routine maybe, you can’t expect to enjoy young, healthy and glowing skin if you’re drinking alcohol regularly. Alcohol not only dehydrates the skin, it also slows your metabolism, increasing your chance of getting “middle aged spread” before your time. That’s to say nothing of the damage that it can do to your liver which is pretty important for filtering toxins out of your bloodstream and generally keeping you alive.
You’re relying on convenience foods
In an era where we’re working longer hours than ever to make up for our stagnating pay just so that we can live, it’s no surprise that we have become reliant on cheap and easy ready meals and convenience foods. Yet, while it may be tricky to find the time to cook nutritious home meals loaded with nutrient rich veggies and fruits, you owe it to your body to at least try.
Many ready meals and convenience foods contain processed meats which are not only high in moisture draining sodium, they’re also type 1 carcinogens (that’s the same category as cigarettes). They’re also likely to be filled with hidden sugars which not only make you gain weight, they initiate a process that breaks down collagen (which is essential for plump and youthful looking skin). It’s also a major cause of tooth decay and discoloration which can make us appear older.
You’re sitting waaaay too much
It’s a sad fact that many of us wake up, sit in the car to get to work, spend 8-12 hours sitting at a desk and then go home to spend a few more hours sitting in front of the TV before bed. The trouble is that all that sitting is wreaking havoc with our health and aging us prematurely. Sitting puts a lot of pressure on our vital organs and play merry Hell with our posture which can lead to a range of health problems from digestive issues to increased risk of heart disease and diabetes. Moreover, studies show that sitting for the majority of the waking day causes our chromosomes to deteriorate much faster, resulting in premature ageing.
Your exercise routine is lopsided
Lots of women want the kind of slim and youthful figures we see plastered on billboards, just as many men want the kinds of buff bods they see on Hollywood action heroes. Unfortunately these gender normative influences can lead us to lopsided workout routines, with men pounding weights at the expense of our cardiovascular health while women work away on the treadmill without doing the strength training that will help prevent premature aging.
Strength training increases bone density and helps delay the deterioration of muscle tissue that comes with the aging process. It also reduces the risk of arthritis, which we tend to associate with old age, although it can affect us at any age (it currently affects around 300,000 children in the US alone). You should lift weights 2-3 times a week as well as using high intensity cardio to burn fat for a slim and youthful body. Strengthening the muscle tissue surrounding joints means that less stress is placed on them, reducing the wear on cartilage and connective tissue that can lead to arthritis. If you already suffer from arthritis or joint pain be sure to use a compression sleeve for arthritis to reduce the stress on your joints. In fact, everyone should be taking some steps to prevent wear on their joints at the gym, as poor mobility is one of the key signs of aging.
You’re not getting enough sleep
Finally, it’s important to take steps to help yourself to get enough sleep at night. Failing to get your daily quota of sleep supports the hormone balances that are essential in preventing the cell decay that leads to premature aging.