by Claire Hazel
Have you ever met someone you thought was ten years younger than they actually are? Healthy skin keeps you looking younger for longer and genes undoubtedly play a part in determining whether you have good skin and at what age you start to develop wrinkles and lines, but there are also environmental influences that can accentuate the aging process, particularly in people prone to earlier aging. Your lifestyle choices and how you treat your skin can have a drastic impact on your appearance.
Are you having a Love Affair with Sugar?
In the 21st century most people are consuming large quantities of processed foods. The days of growing, preparing and cooking our own food from recipes are long behind us and although making meals from scratch is experiencing a revival, the majority of us still enjoy the freedom of being able to go to a supermarket, pick a ready-made item from the shelves and avoid having to spend hours in the kitchen. The amount of sugar-filled products available to the public dramatically increased with the arrival of convenience foods and there is sugar in all kinds of consumables. A lot of it goes unnoticed by the consumer. While many people monitor the amount of fat they are eating, unless they are diabetic they don’t pay the same attention to sugar. Unfortunately, glucose can enhance inflammation in your body and there is new scientific research linking it to complications of diabetes and the development of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other chronic degenerative diseases of aging. It also affects your skin and slows down wound healing. The sugar in your blood stream attaches to proteins and forms advanced glycation end products. These end products are harmful and can damage other proteins nearby, including collagen and elastin – protein fibers that keep skin looking young and firm. The more sugar you eat, the more advanced glycation end products you accumulate and the more damage is done to your collagen and elastin, making you age more quickly than your friend who eats less sugar than you do.
Can’t go out Without Your Make-Up?
It is understandable that you may want to plaster your face in make-up at the first sign of a wrinkle, especially if you normally feel naked leaving the house without your make-up, but using it too much can actually age you faster. According to the organization, Skin Deep, the average woman uses 12 cosmetic products a day and contain a total of 168 ingredients. Some of these are toxic to the skin. Eye make-up even contains mercury as a preservative. Not surprisingly, an increasing number of older women are developing eczema on their eyelids after years of application. To maintain clear looking skin and avoid dermatological conditions, you should only use a thin layer of make-up or go without it altogether.
Are you on your Computer all Day?
People generally get less exercise and are exposed to more radiation than previous generations. Most office workers spend large amounts of their day sitting at a computer and some use the computer after work to frequent social media sites like Facebook and Twitter or keep in touch with relatives who live away from home. Now, cosmetic surgeon Dr. Michael Prager from the UK says that computers are causing premature aging in female office workers, including frown lines from squinting at the computer screen and saggy jowls from sitting in the same position for too long. He says that younger women who are now in their 20s have grown up with computers from birth may have even more pronounced signs of aging by the time they are only 30. If you can, try to limit your screen time.
Would you Rather Watch TV than Swim?
If you’re the type who’d rather snuggle in front of the TV instead of going for a run or a swim, you could age faster than your sportier neighbor. Getting enough exercise can delay the signs of aging, firstly, through reducing your stress levels (sustained levels of stress can result in premature lines and wrinkles) and also by increasing the blood flow to your face. The extra blood flow carries with it the essential vitamins and nutrients your skin needs to stay healthy. That’s why people who have been exercising are often described as having a ‘healthy glow’. Exercise also helps your skin to excrete dead cells and debris, assisting you in detoxing and preventing blackheads, acne and other unsightly skin problems. In addition, it will keep you lean, which in itself will keep you younger and fresher. Being overweight or obese is another reason why you might age faster, as a bigger body mass index is correlated with damage to the DNA that is present on the end of chromosomes. These are called Telomeres and their job is to protect the chromosomes. As people age, the telomeres shorten, becoming less effective. Oxidative stress caused by junk foods, lack of exercise, radiation and pollution can also shorten the telomeres and put your aging process on fast forward.
Do you Love that Tanned Complexion?
If you regularly sun bathe outdoors or if you use sunbeds, think again! Excessive UV light can cause premature aging and wrinkles because it damages DNA and skin cells and damages collagen and the connective tissue underneath the top layer of skin. Small amounts of UV exposure are good for you and provide you with vitamin D that can help you fight bone diseases and the flu, so it’s okay to have a few minutes sun each day, but you should consider using a non-toxic, natural sunscreen after that – particularly on the facial area where it will protect your face from damage by the sun.
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