A body that stays young forever. That concept has been fodder for countless novels and films, not to mention the fervent hopes of many of us. And although freezing your physical condition in place is still the stuff of science fiction, there are easy, science-backed lifestyle choices you can make that can forestall the effects of aging. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You Have “Long” COVID and May Not Even Know It.
There’s no such thing as the soda fountain of youth. Turns out, it’s just the opposite. A study at the University of California—San Francisco found that people who consumed more sugar-sweetened drinks, such as soda, had shorter telomeres, the part of our cells that hold DNA. Telomeres get shorter as they age; when they get too short, they die. “Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence metabolic disease development through accelerated cell aging,” wrote the study’s authors.
Sugar’s effect on weight gain doesn’t prevent many of us from indulging a sweet tooth. But if we told you it can make you look older, too, would you still crave it? Our skin is supported by two compounds, collagen and elastin, which keep it looking plump and youthful. According to a study published in the journal Clinical Dermatology, when high levels of sugar are consumed, it binds to amino acids in collagen and elastin, damaging them and blocking the body’s efforts at repair.
When you’re cutting back on sugar, aim to cut out stress as well. Harvard Medical School reports that chronic stress can also shorten telomeres. Not only is telomere shortening the literal process of aging, but people with shorter telomeres are at risk of serious diseases including heart disease and cancer.
Alcohol dehydrates the body and causes inflammation—two shortcuts to looking older. A 2019 study of more than 3,200 women found that those who drank more than eight drinks a week had more “upper facial lines, under-eye puffiness, oral commissures, midface volume loss, and blood vessels” than women who drank moderately or not at all.
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According to a study published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, women who said they frequently got quality sleep had 30% better “skin-barrier recovery” and “significantly lower intrinsic skin aging” than women who reported poor sleep, To stay youthful, don’t skimp on your shut-eye—experts recommend seven to nine hours of quality sleep every night. And to get through life at your healthiest, don’t miss The #1 Cause of “Deadly” Cancer.