When you spot that first gray hair or fine line, it’s natural to go searching for the fountain of eternal youth. Unfortunately, there is no such thing. The best we can do is stall the signs of aging.
You probably know at least one person who looks significantly older than their chronological age. Some things could be attributed to genetics, but your lifestyle has more to do with your looks than you probably realize.
For example, if you do any of these five things regularly, you are probably adding at least five years to your overall appearance.
1. Binge drinking
In moderation, drinking alcohol probably won’t adversely affect your appearance. But when you drink often and/or a lot in one sitting (binge drinking), your consumption may begin to show through your skin.
Binge drinking is defined as having about five drinks an hour for men and four drinks an hour for women. If you binge drinks more than five times a month, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines would define you as a heavy drinker. These are both habits that will age you before your time.
Excessive alcohol consumption can age you in a few different ways:
- Causes facial swelling and puffiness: When you digest alcohol, it widens the blood vessels that bring blood to the face, which can cause facial swelling and puffiness. If you consume alcohol regularly over time, the blood vessels just continue stretching and growing. This can lead to broken capillaries and burst blood vessels.
- Expedites collagen loss: Not only is alcohol devoid of nutrients, but it can also deplete your body of important nutrients that help build collagen. Vitamin A is especially important for building and maintaining collagen.
- Robs moisture from your skin: Alcohol is a diuretic, which means it helps flush liquid from your body. This can lead to dehydration, which can dry your skin and make you look older.
2. Eating too much sugar
Sugar is one of the main culprits in the premature aging process. Did you know that skin aging is actually caused by sugar molecules? When sugar molecules attach to collagen fibers, those fibers eventually lose their strength and flexibility. The sugar-collagen bonds are called advanced glycosylation end products (AGEs). AGEs cause your skin to lose elasticity and become more vulnerable to everyday damage.
After learning about the dangers of sugar consumption, you’ll probably want to cut back or quit. But you may have trouble kicking your habit because sugar addiction is a real thing. In fact, sugar creates a similar reaction in the brain as opioids. Instead of going cold turkey, try subbing healthy alternatives until you can ease the sweetness out of your diet.
3. Fad or yo-yo dieting
Fat gets a bad rap for helping us pack on pounds, but fat is essential to keep your skin plump and supple. If you go without fat, your skin will get a dull and deflated look.
Try to eat healthy fats like the ones you’ll find in avocado, flaxseed, walnuts, and salmon.
Stress and anxiety will take a toll on your body in so many ways, but aging is one of the big ones. One study found that people who have the most work-related stress also have the shortest telomeres.
Although we can’t always control the source of our stress, we can control how we handle stressful situations. Try to find healthy outlets for your stress like exercise, yoga or meditation.
5. Lack of sleep
Poor sleep or insomnia can lead to many health problems, including sallow skin, weight gain and an impaired immune system. All of these things can take a toll on your body that will show through your skin.
Aging is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we always have to look our age. If you want to keep your youthful looking glow, then avoid the five things on this list.