Natural Health: "9 Mistakes That Are Aging You"

The recent article in Natural Health magazine was so right on, helpful and accurate, I needed to share it here with you all in case you didn't see it:
Getting older. it’s a universal truth that many of us don’t entirely embrace. And so, as the years march on, we spend a lot of time and money trying to look and feel younger. But for all of our efforts, we’re still making some mistakes, often without realizing it. “I see it all the time in my practice,” says ob-gyn Jennifer Ashton, M.d., the Englewood, N.J.-based author of Your Body Beautiful: Clockstopping Secrets to Staying Healthy, Strong and Sexy in Your 30s, 40s and Beyond (Avery) and co-host of ABC’s The Revolution
“Women say they want to turn back the clock, but then self-sabotage, whether it’s with their eating, sleep or exercise habits—you name it.” the good news is that you can take simple youth-boosting steps to reverse your aging errors. “it’s never too late to change your habits,” says Ashton. “And the results are so dramatic, you won’t want to stop because you’ll see and feel such a powerful difference.” So get time back on your side! Here’s how.
1. Aging Error: Eating Sweets
The average American eats 150 pounds of sugar each year—18 percent of our calories. You know the health implications of this, from obesity to type 2 diabetes, but it can also be as much of a wrinkle-causing culprit as sun exposure and smoking. That’s because a process called glycation causes sugars to attach to proteins in collagen and elastin, which can make skin look older. a study published in the British Journal of Dermatology found that the aging effects of excess sugar consumption become visible around age 35 and accelerate rapidly after that.

Youth boosters: Your best bet is to cut out processed foods, says integrative medicine physician Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., of Kona, hawaii, and author of Beat Sugar Addiction Now! (Fair Winds Press), who adds that women should limit their sugar intake to 6 1⁄4 teaspoons (or 25 grams) a day. Fiber also slows sugar absorption, so opt for whole foods like an orange over its juices (OJ has the same sugar content as soda). When a sugar craving hits, it’s often because you’re thirsty, Ashton adds. “go for water or seltzer instead of something sweet,” she advises. If that doesn’t help, have a piece of dark chocolate or fresh berries— and opt for sweeteners like Body Ecology or Sweet Leaf brands of stevia or ribose (corvalen), a healthy sugar that, in a recent study, increased subjects’ energy 61 percent and improved heart function.

2. Aging Error: Working Too Hard
Research has found that a bad job—whether it’s a career you don’t enjoy or working long hours—can increase the risk of heart disease and speed up cell aging, as well as minimize the time you spend getting exercise, healthy meals and sleep. long-term chronic stress—a common problem for the overworked—also impairs age-related brain function. “It shrinks the hippocampus, where memories are formed, and impairs frontal lobe function—planning, coordinating, prioritizing and executing complex activities,” says Phoenix-based neurologist Paul Bendheim, M.D., author of The Brain Training Revolution: A Proven Workout for Healthy Brain Aging (Sourcebooks, Inc.).

Youth Boosters: If you can’t change your stressors outright (think: a difficult boss, travel schedule or workload), draw up a list of things that make you happy—a pet’s wet kisses or your favorite tea—and add them into your day, advises Jennifer Garza, M.S., a life coach in Cornwall on Hudson, N.Y., and author of 365 Days to Happiness: Use Your Strengths, Thoughts, and Dreams to Manifest a New Life (InspireWire Publishing). She also suggests a no-complaint challenge: “for one week, resist the urge to gripe, and replace complaints with thoughts of gratitude.” Garza also notes that work is most fulfilling if it gives you a sense of purpose, so she recommends enlisting the help of a therapist, life coach or book to help you move toward recognizing and fulfilling your dreams.

3. Aging Error: Eating through the AGEs
Advanced glycation end products (ages) form when sugars and fats react with a protein, causing a structure to change irreversibly, and then attach to many things in the body and cause damage, says Michelle Davenport, nutritionist and research scientist at the new York University School of Medicine in New York City. While we can create ages in our body after eating sugar, we can also straight-up consume these ages via foods that are processed and/or heated. “AGEs can increase inflammation and oxidation that cause aging and age-related diseases affecting the heart, brain, bones and joints, kidneys, insulin resistance, anemia and skin,” says Davenport.

Youth Boosters: Browning, caramelizing, grilling, roasting, broiling and frying create ages, so limit these cooking methods. Highly processed and canned foods heated during processing, as well as high-fat dairy products like cheese, are also culprits. Your best bets to reduce the consumption of ages are to eat raw when possible, eat foods in their whole form and cook them with a water-based method (like steaming, poaching or boiling) or marinate in an acid (like vinegar or lemon juice) before cooking. eating a variety of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods can also help reduce the inflammation and oxidation that ages cause, so go for berries, sweet potatoes and leafy greens.  
4. Aging Error: Dropping the Weights
Women Lose approximately 5 percent of their muscle mass every decade after the age of 30. “Resistance training is the only thing that reverses this,” says Brad Schoenfeld, adjunct professor in the exercise science department at Lehman College in the Bronx, N.Y., and author of Women’s Home Workout Bible (Human Kinetics). “It may even increase muscle growth to previous levels or above them.”
Indeed, a 2011 University of Michigan study of subjects over 50 years old found that resistance exercise helped them gain lean body mass, and doing this earlier in life was even more effective. “Strength training is also great for bone density and increasing energy and strength,” adds New York City-based Kristin McGee, a celebrity yoga and fitness expert. “It keeps the metabolism running, helps with balance and stamina and is good for the heart. More muscle tone also means less saggy skin.” It can help improve flexibility as well, contributing to better posture, looser joints and a more limber body, which all equal a more active lifestyle as you age, notes Schoenfeld.

Youth Boosters: McGee recommends aiming for 20 minutes of resistance training three times a week, using weights or bands for curls, presses, rows, squats and lunges—or your own body weight for push-ups, chair dips, squats, lunges and planks. She says to pair this training with 30 minutes of cardio five days a week, or take advantage of activities like tennis that encourage cardio and resistance work.
5. Aging Error: Sleeping Unsoundly
“Getting regular sleep isn’t a luxury—it’s a medical need,” says Ashton. “Lack of sleep releases cortisol, which can age us internally and externally.” Consistency is key, too: a 2011 study in the journal Sleep found that changes in how much or how little test subjects slept over a five-year period in late middle age were associated with an accelerated cognitive decline equivalent to four to seven years of aging!

Youth Boosters: Getting a solid 7 1⁄2 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night lets you cycle through several REM patterns; it’s in this stage of sleep that the body is able to repair itself, and is important for healing, memory, skin elasticity, normal cortisol levels and metabolism, notes Mark Anderson, M.D., a partner at executive Medicine of Texas in Southlake and author of Stay Young: 10 Proven Steps to Ultimate Health (George House Publishing). If you’re having trouble falling asleep, Ashton recommends strategies such as keeping your room at 65 degrees, maintaining the same sleep and wake hours, and nighttime rituals like taking a warm bath. She says valerian tea or tart cherry juice, which help to stimulate melatonin production, are also great natural sleep aids. If tension keeps you up at night, Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., Maui, Hawaii-based medical director of the Nutritional Magnesium Association, recommends taking 1 to 2 teaspoons of magnesium citrate powder mixed with water or juice to relax those muscles.

6. Aging Error: Forsaking Fat
“Women typically cut fats from their diet as they age, because they’re trying to cut calories,” says Ashley Koff, R.D., Los Angeles-based author of Mom Energy (Hay House). But good, healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids help to keep skin supple, boost brain health, keep the heart strong, fight diabetes and can increase lifespan. “Cutting omega-3s increases cellular inflammation that accelerates the aging process, and eventually leads to organ dysfunction and loss of function,” says Barry Sears, Ph.d., president of the Inflammation Research Foundation in Marblehead, Mass. It also makes your skin look more irritated, less radiant and simply older, says Ashton.

Youth Boosters: Koff says the science around isolating omega-3s is relatively new, so she suggests eating whole foods containing an array of nutrients, including omega-3s—which is in line with 2011 research from Oregon Health and Science University that found people with healthier diets, rich in a variety of vitamins including B, C, D, E and omega-3s, had bigger brains and better cognitive function. Sears says to avoid vegetable oils rich in omega-6s (corn, soy, sunflower, safflower), limit saturated fats found in butter and cheese, and consume more extra virgin olive oil, almonds, avocados, [hemp, chia, walnuts] and fatty fish like wild salmon.

7. Aging Error: Bad Form
According to the national Institutes of health, people typically lose about 1 centimeter of stature every 10 years after age 40. rounding of the upper back, lower back pain and a forward head position are the most typical age-related posture concerns seen by Dana Davis, a certified teacher of the Balance Posture Method in her practice at Sonoma Body Balance in California. Sitting, standing and bending incorrectly don’t just add years to your appearance but take a physical toll, too. “When we sit or stand with our bones misaligned, our muscles work overtime and it weakens our joints,” Davis says. “good posture helps you look healthy, stay strong and flexible, eliminate or avoid pain, increase energy, be more relaxed and maintain mobility.”

Youth Boosters: When seated, sit on your sitz bones (the bony part of your butt that you feel when you sit on a firm surface), Davis advises. When standing, draw your chin in to look at your ankles, let your weight move back into your heels, take each shoulder back and down, and back your head up without lifting your chin too high—and for bending, bow from your hip joints, not your waist, she says. “alignment problems are far more common in industrialized Western countries from sitting hunched over computers and desks,” adds Christiane Northrup, M.D., an OB-GYN in Yarmouth, Maine, and author of The Wisdom of Menopause (Bantam), so she suggests clasping your hands behind your back, lengthening your arms and stretching hands downward, and opening your chest forward and breathing deeply to reset posture every hour.

8. Aging Error: Skimping on Sex
Getting busy contributes to greater happiness, a stronger immune system, good circulation and caloric burn and can even help you live up to eight years longer, according to one study. Some researchers say sex also boosts the production of human growth hormone, which improves muscle tone and makes you look younger and more fit, notes Ashton. Jennifer Berman, M.D., director of Berman Women’s Wellness Center in Los Angeles, adds that the chemicals released during sex reduce stress and improve energy, well-being and mood. “Sexual health is a critical component to general health and wellness,” says Berman. “The longer we can sustain and maintain a sexually active life, the better.”

Youth Boosters: The average American couple has sex twice a week, according to Berman, but says it’s most important that both partners are reasonably satisfied with the frequency. Ashton notes that scheduling sex can help trigger your desire, as can fantasizing for 10 minutes a day on your own or trying something new like sexy lingerie or a new position to keep things interesting. To “wake up” your pelvic area and stave off a low libido, she prescribes three sets of 10 Kegel exercises every day for four weeks. “Be patient with your ups and downs,” she adds. “Sex won’t be consistent over your lifetime.” If stress is blocking your libido, emotionally or physically, Berman recommends a topical organic botanical oil called On4Her ($25; that triples sensation and enhances orgasm.

9. Aging Error: Exposing Yourself
Of course the most serious result of too much sun is skin cancer, but it also causes wrinkles, sun spots, broken capillaries and a dry, dull complexion—and it’s not just from baking on the beach. Ashton says that 80 percent of sun exposure comes from cumulative everyday outings whether walking or driving (UVA light travels through car windows). Additional sources, according Neal Schultz, M.D., a New York City-based cosmetic dermatologist, include reflected light from sand, water and snow; mirrored rooms with large windows; high altitudes; and the ultraviolet radiation responsible for the UV index on a cloudy day. Debra Jaliman, M.D., New York City-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist (St. Martin’s Press) says sun can also age our bodies on the inside, decreasing immunity.

Youth Boosters: Apply a daily moisturizer containing an SPF 30 or higher (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide ingredients are chemical-free) to all exposed areas, and use a dedicated sunscreen for outdoor activities—treating ears, neck and the backs of hands with a good UVA blocker like avobenzone, oxybenzone, ecamsule, titanium dioxide or zinc oxide, advises Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in the dermatology department of Mount Sinai hospital in new York City. Wear protective clothing, including a hat, too, Zeichner notes, and limit your exposure—even on cloudy days. Shield your eyes and surrounding skin with sunglasses that have UV protection of 400 or higher, Jaliman adds. Kristina Grish is a writer and published author in New York City.
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