Experts Reveal The Habits That May Be Ageing You More Quickly
Experts Reveal The Habits That May Be Ageing You More Quickly

Experts Reveal The Habits That May Be Ageing You More Quickly

When you’re young and carefree, it’s easy to get away with late nights and a less-than-perfect diet. But as we age, experts agree it’s vital to build good habits and prioritise your health. After all, our genes contribute to only 30% of how well we age, whereas lifestyle and diet contribute 70%. We sat down with four health experts to discover the habits that may be ageing you more quickly – from nutrition to sleep, here are the most common pitfalls…

Counting Calories

“The age-old saying of ‘eat less and move more’ is outdated. Studies increasingly show this approach does not work in the long term. As we age, our body composition changes and we gain more fat mass, including visceral fat around the stomach, and our lean muscle decreases. Eating the right nutrients can protect the body from the worst of these changes and help you age better – counting calories isn’t part of this equation. Instead, we should be eating a nutrient-dense Mediterranean diet that contains plenty of fat and colour. Don’t fear fat – it will keep you full, keep blood sugar stable, ensure you absorb nutrients and boost skin health. Use olive oil like butter, eat plenty of free-range eggs, nuts, seeds and avocado.” – Jane Mostowfi, nutritional therapist

Missing Out On Daily Movement

“Keeping active can make the world of difference when it comes to ageing, and it’s never too late to start. The key is to find something you enjoy and can stick to. From the age of 30, we lose as much as 5% of our lean muscle mass each year, plus we are at a much higher risk of falling. Therefore, it’s vital to include some exercises to strength your muscles, like resistance training, which can lower your risk of falling by 40%. You should also include aerobic exercise like walking, jogging and cycling, which will reduce visceral fat and improve heart health. Aim for a daily brisk walk – studies show fast walking may reduce the risk of early mortality by 20% compared to strolling – and lift weights or do a HIIT class a couple of times per week.” – Dr Clare Bailey, GP & co-creator of The Fast 800

Eating On-The-Go

“Eating when stressed – whether you’re in a rush, driving or doing emails – means your stress hormones interfere with digestion and degrade food metabolism. Studies show eating on the go doubles your risk of obesity.” – Jane

Relying On Processed Food

“Eating processed food that offer little nutritional value leads to deficiencies and inflammation, which is at the root of most diseases – think heart disease, obesity, cancer, diabetes and dementia. Western diets tend to be high in inflammatory ingredients, many of which are high in omega-6 fatty acids, which throws your omega levels off balance. Omega-3s are the healthy fats you should be aiming for – they contain incredible anti-inflammatory properties. Cut back on junk food and deep-fried food, which contain age-promoting inflammatory fats and, instead, eat more sardines, anchovies, salmon, algae and rainbow trout. Omega-3 fats can also be found in walnuts and chia seeds, but plant-based sources aren’t as potent. If you are vegan, take an algae oil supplement to boost your levels.” – Nikki Hillis, naturopathic nutritional therapist 

Cutting Out Carbs

“Carbohydrates used to be the enemy, but they aren’t all bad – quality matters. Stock up on wholegrains – around the world, oats, barley, brown rice and ground corn feature in the daily diets of those living in the Blue Zones, parts of the world where people tend to live longer and be healthier. Interestingly, wheat doesn’t play a large part of their diets, and the grains they do use contain less gluten than our modern processed breads and pastas. If you can’t give up bread entirely, swap to a quality wholegrain or sourdough loaf, but only eat it at one meal a day.” – Jane

Studies show EATING ON THE GO doubles your RISK OF OBESITY.

Staying Up Late

“Getting a good night’s sleep is vital in slowing the ageing process. Although some people can get by on less than six hours of sleep a night, most of us can’t – even if we think we can. Poor sleep affects every organ – from your brain to heart, your immune system and even your sex drive. One of the most important things you can do is to stick to a regular sleep schedule – wake up at the same time every morning, regardless of what time you go to bed, and don’t go to bed until you are genuinely tired. Your bedroom should also be a screen-free zone – that includes TV – and should be for sleep and sex only.” – Clare

Getting In An Exercise Rut

“Just because you are getting old doesn’t mean you can’t try new things. If you enjoy yoga, try qigong. Studies show qigong – sometimes referred to as the Chinese form of yoga – can slow ageing. It has a therapeutic effect on balancing your meridians and organs, and it can reduce high blood pressure, support heart health and hormone production. As we age, our oestrogen levels fall and several large-scale studies show qigong can reverse this trend. Qigong has also been shown to boost levels of an anti-ageing enzyme called superoxide dismutase (SOD) that helps counteract free radicals in the body.” – Nikki

Not Meeting Fibre Goals

“Fibre supports your health in several ways – not only does it feed your gut bacteria, which we know is central to our health, but it regulates appetite and keeps us full. Aim for 30g per day, including plenty of beans and legumes. According to a study by the World Health Organisation, eating 20g of beans daily reduces your risk of dying early by 8%. Beans are an underrated superfood – they strike the perfect nutritional balance of 21% protein, 77% complex carbs and a dose of healthy fats. They are affordable, versatile and don’t spike blood sugar – get into the habit of making a white bean mash and either swap for potato mash or serve with crudites.” – Jane

Drinking Too Much Caffeine

“Coffee lowers levels of DHEA, a hormone that keeps our appearance youthful and reduces inflammation. Levels of this key hormone decline naturally as you age, and excessive amounts of coffee accelerates this process. Limit yourself to one or two cups of quality coffee a day.” – Nikki

Lacking Colour

“For thousands of years, the Mediterranean diet has been the source of antioxidants consumed by the people living in that region and may help explain their good health and youthful appearance. The Mediterranean diet is an ideal dietetic role model as it’s rich in many antioxidants, including carotenoids, which fight ageing. Get into the habit of trying new fruit and vegetables and don’t fear frozen varieties – they can be just as nutritionally rich. Aim for four different coloured vegetables a day – this will ensure you are getting a range of nutrient to reduce inflammation and support skin and eye health.” – Jane

Poor sleep affects EVERY ORGAN – from your BRAIN to HEART, your IMMUNE SYSTEM and even your SEX DRIVE.

Using Alcohol To Relieve Stress

“Stress ages the body. When we are stressed, the body releases cortisol, a hormone that can have harmful effects on the body in prolonged doses. Cortisol causes blood vessels to constrict, increases inflammation, and your risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. Avoid using alcohol to deal with stress – alcohol makes the body more acidic, which accelerates the ageing process. Alcohol also puts a burden on the liver, causes sleep problems, increases body fat, worsens hormone imbalances and causes a neurodegenerative decline.” – Nikki

Skipping Breakfast

“Studies show people who skip breakfast tend to eat more calories and the wrong types of foods later in the day. By front-loading your calories – think ‘breakfast like a king’ – and eating the right macronutrient ratios, you’re more likely to keep a healthy weight, and less likely to suffer from metabolic conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This, in turn, reduces the inflammation and oxidative stress that accelerates ageing. Include protein, complex carbs and plant-based fats at breakfast – this could be a couple of poached eggs, a small slice of rye toast and half an avocado. Ideally, aim for a 12-hour overnight fast, eating breakfast around 12 hours after you finish supper. This will give the body a chance to reset and support ageing processes.” – Jane

Scrimping On Protein

“Protein plays an important role is almost every part of the body – from hormones to muscle strength and healthy blood cells to keeping you full after meals. As we age, the body processes protein less efficiently, so we need more. Instead of the recommended 55-65g per day, aim to eat closer to 100g of protein daily. Aim to eat a source of quality protein at every meal – meat and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, cheese, edamame beans and lentils are great sources. A protein-rich breakfast is a good way to start the day – try full-fat Greek yoghurt (great for your gut bugs) with berries for fibre and nuts for healthy fats and protein.” – Clare

Constantly Grazing

“If you’re eating well-balanced meals in adequate portion sizes, you shouldn’t feel the need to snack between meals. When we graze throughout the day, our blood sugar is constantly spiking, which can lead to an increased risk of type-2 diabetes and weight gain. If you do feel the urge to snack and can’t wait until your next meal, opt for a balanced snack of nuts (avoid salted or sweetened as they’re moreish and easy to overeat), seeds, a small piece of cheese or a handful of berries.” – Clare

Taking The Same Supplements

“Your nutritional needs change as you age, so it makes sense to switch up the supplements you take. Collagen is a must. By the time we are 50, you may have already lost 50% of your collagen levels. Adding a collagen supplement that contains 10,000mg of hydrolysed collagen will support your skin, bones, brain, heart, muscles, joints, hair and nails. It’s also an excellent form of protein to keep you strong. Also consider taking pre and probiotics to support the gut, which will in turn fight infections and colds, and improve mental health; as well as a quality omega-3 supplement, a nutrient the body can’t produce naturally.” – Kathryn Danzey, founder of Rejuvenated 

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