Researchers checked in on 954 people born between 1972 and 1973 at ages 26, 32, and 38. They found that some of the subjects’ “biological age” stayed practically the same over the course of the twelve years—while others aged up to to three years for every real-time 12 months. By looking at their weight, kidney function and gum health, the team determined that some people were staying in their peak well through middle age, while others had the health of retirees. Pretty terrifying, huh?
But don’t despair yet—we have good news. The rate at which you age, or at least at which you appear to age, is heavily dependent on your lifestyle and how you take care of your body day to day. Small tweaks to your everyday routine can have big rewards, like taking years off of your face and adding years to your life. Don’t expect the fountain of youth, but correct these missteps and you’ll be looking like a fresher, younger version of yourself in no time.
1. You don’t drink enough water
Hands down, drinking enough water every day is the best thing you can do for your body. It supports your health on so many levels, like regulating digestion, enhancing immune function, increasing energy, aiding weight loss, and a recent study published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neurosciencefound water even boosts mental performance. However, the big benefit here is that water can have a tremendous effect on the way you look thanks to its ability to hydrate and clear up your skin. Dehydrated skin looks dull, saggy, and can make wrinkles look more defined.
3. You don’t wash your face at night
Don’t go to sleep without thoroughly washing your face. Over the course of the day your skin and pores collect dirt and oil. If you don’t wash it all off before you hit the hay, the dirt will clog your pores overnight and you’ll wake up with irritated skin that is quite the opposite of a healthy, glowing complexion.
4. You don’t moisturize
By drinking an adequate amount of water each day, you’re hydrating your skin from the inside out, which is crucial. However, it may not be enough. Sometimes you need a little extra help on the surface. We’re not talking a fancy anti-aging cream that bottoms out your wallet. A daily face moisturizer should do the trick. For an option that’s free of harsh chemicals or fragrances, rub a little coconut oil on your face in the morning. It’s natural, cheap, and effective!
5. You eat too many processed foods
The modern American diet is arguably the biggest cause of premature aging. The main reason for this is the amount of excess sugar that exists in our food today—it’s in almost everything we eat out of a box or bag. Sugar consumption has increased in the U.S. by 40% since the 1970s. It contributes to dark circles under the eyes, wrinkles, dehydrated skin, and in some cases acne. Opt for whole foods as often as possible.
6. You wash your hair every day
When you wash your hair every day, you strip it of its natural oils and leave it dry, brittle, and dull. Try shampooing only once or twice a week. By doing so, you’ll start to experience softer, shinier hair. While you’re at it, keep your shower at a warm temperature. Hot water can dry out your hair and skin, leaving it dull and prone to damage.
7. You forget your shades at home
Even if you’re sporting SPF, it’s important to pay close attention to the skin around your eyes. It’s more delicate than the skin on the rest of your face, and therefore more susceptible to damage. When you don’t wear sunglasses, you squint, and all that squinting eventually turns into crow’s-feet, an evident sign of aged skin.
8. You eat out too often
A healthy, balanced, plant-based diet is the key to glowing, healthy skin. When you eat out you don’t really know what you’re putting into your body, and it’s likely not the healthiest option. Once in a while is fine, but you’ve got to be conscious about getting whole, clean foods into your diet on a consistent basis. These foods contain essential vitamins and minerals that repair and strengthen your body from the inside out, promoting a youthful appearance and optimal body functioning. The more you eat out, the more you rob your body of those good-for-you nutrients and fill it with excess fat, sodium, and sugar.
A study published in Lancet Oncology found that men who followed a healthy diet, a regular exercise regimen, and stress-reduction strategies were able to slow the aging process at the cellular level. The diet was high in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and unrefined grains.
9. You don’t eat enough fat
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, like those found in avocados and nuts, are incredible skin-boosting foods. They contain a high level of antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and vitamin E, which promote soft, plump skin and fight free radical damage and premature aging. What’s more, a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that consuming a handful of nuts per day could help you live longer.