3 Habits That Age You Faster Than Anything Else
There are things you're probably doing on a regular basis that are rapidly aging you, whether you realize it or not. Smoking cigarettes (sorry, even vaping doesn't get a pass from me) and indulging in more than a couple of alcoholic drinks a week are two biggies, but there are other sneaky little habits that will accelerate the aging process. Beyond the physical signs -- wrinkles, sagging skin, puffy eyes, yellow teeth -- these bad habits can negatively impact your overall health and life span. Want to reverse the damage? Put the brakes on smoking and drinking, plus these three dangerous habits.
1. Eating fast food. I can't stress enough how what you eat directly affects the way your body functions on just about every level. When you consume quality, nutrient-rich foods (which you'll be hard-pressed to find at most fast-food restaurants), your body runs like a well-oiled machine that keeps you looking and feeling younger. However, the exact opposite happens when you eat chemical garbage like hydrogenated trans fats (often found in deep-fried foods), MSG (the toxic flavor enhancer you'll find in Chinese takeout), and meat laden with hormones and antibiotics. If you do find yourself at a fast-food place -- hopefully because it was the choice between that and eating nothing at all -- your best bets are chains with healthier options (grilled fish tacos, salads) like Baja Fresh, El Pollo Loco, Au Bon Pain, Starbucks and Subway. Just remember to skip the condiments, dressings, and processed cheeses.
2. Drinking soda. This goes right along with eating fast food. Your typical soft drinks are carbonated crap, often made with high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a highly refined sweetener that almost certainly packs on the pounds faster than any other ingredient. HFCS also increases your bad cholesterol levels (LDL), contributing to tissue damage and premature aging, obesity and fatty liver disease, among other conditions. And don't think you're off the hook with diet sodas. Those often contain artificial colors and sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, which are neurotoxins known to erode intelligence and short-term memory, and lead to a variety of ailments such as Alzheimer's disease and chronic fatigue.
3. Poor stress management. This bad habit actually ages you faster than almost anything else. Stress wreaks havoc on your hormones and can contribute to life-threatening health conditions like high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The simple fact is the way you handle stress is the key to health and longevity. The next time you find yourself overwhelmed by the rat race of life, force yourself to take a breather. Meditate for at least five minutes, watch your favorite comedy, schedule a vacation, or go for a roll in the hay with your significant other. Do something that makes you smile; whatever will help recharge your batteries. Your mind and body will thank you.