Smooth skin, a slender body, healthy hair; many of us are after these youthful attributes, and practicing healthy habits can help to maintain them. But taking care of your body can provide benefits that are much deeper, like a decreased risk for many diseases, pain-free joints and muscles, and an overall longer and happier life. "People all over the world spend tons of money on beauty products to counter the effects of aging," says Sophie Jaffe, a certified raw food nutritionist and creator of Philosophie raw food supplements. "They buy creams, serums, and gadgets in the hope that looking their best will help them to feel their best as well, but creating beauty from the inside out just might be a more effective approach." Maintaining your youth may not exactly be easy, but instead of spending your money on overpriced products that probably don't work, you can slow the aging process naturally by following these ten healthy habits.
“UV exposure causes free radicals to form in your skin and they damage your skin cell's DNA,” says Dr. Cynthia Bailey, a board-certified dermatologist and the President and CEO of Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology Physicians. “This leads to skin cancer. It also leads to a series of events in the skin that cause a cycle of skin collagen breakdown and skin thinning."
Besides leaving you groggy, irritable, and just plain tired the next day, missing out on quality sleep is associated with a long list of negative effects on your health. According to Rebecca Q. Scott, PhD, a sleep specialist at the New York Sleep Institute and an Assistant Research Professor in the NYU School of Medicine, when poor sleep habits are maintained consistently, you increase your risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and impaired immunity.
As Jaffe mentioned earlier, working to create beauty and health from the inside out may be the most effective way to maintain your youth. "One of the best ways to achieve a beautiful, youthful glow is to make sure that you are getting the proper balance of nutrients your body needs to maintain vibrant health," she said. Not to mention, eating nutrient-rich, whole foods on a regular basis can help to reduce you risk for conditions like type two diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.
Diets consistently high in sugar have been associated with obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Plus, more directly related to our longevity, a recent study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that regular consumption of sugary sodas may increase the risk for metabolic disease through accelerated cell aging. The American Heart Association recommends that men limit their daily sugar intake to about 37.5 grams (nine teaspoons) and women to about 25 grams (six teaspoons).
A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when compared with obesity, a sedentary lifestyle may increase the risk of premature death by about 50 percent. In other words, not exercising on a regular basis is a great risk to your health. Data from the study showed that exercisers who burn between 90 and 110 calories a day could reduce the risk of premature death by anywhere from 16 to 30 percent.
It's no secret that cigarette smoking is hazardous to your health. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking is the number one preventable cause of death in the U.S. and it significantly increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, and lung cancer. On top of all that, Mayo Clinic says that smoking accelerates the outward aging process by damaging collagen and elastin which can lead to wrinkled skin.
Chronic stress can put your overall health in great danger. Cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, headaches, back and neck pain, and sleep problems are all considered stress-related illnesses. Plus, according to Dr. Cedric Bryant, Chief Science Officer for the American Council on Exercise, stress can lead to a change in insulin and blood sugar levels, leading the body to become more conditioned to store a dangerous type of fat. “Stress signals the storage of visceral fat, which gets stored around the midsection deep within the abdominal region and around organs and is associated with an increased risk for things like insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease," he said.
A recent study in the European Heart Journal found that when compared with those who never drink alcohol, "social drinkers" may have a decreased risk for heart failure. According to the New York Times, the study's senior author, Scott D. Solomon says that "social drinking" (or moderate alcohol consumption) constitutes one drink a day for women and two for men. Once you cross that threshold, "your risk of other types of problems goes up," he said.
According to yoga, tai chi, and qigong instructor Fiona Patterson, constant slouching and poor posture habits can prematurely damage your joints and muscles. Keeping your abdominal muscles strong, sitting up straight, and getting up to move around every hour or so during prolonged periods of sitting can help keep your joints and muscles healthy and reduce your risk for issues like back and neck pain.