Dr. Simeons' Manuscript

Avoid These Top Contributors to Aging

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Aging is inevitable but you don't have to succumb to stereotypes or go down without a fight. Maintaining a youthful appearance is important for many people as they age, as is reducing the risk of diseases common among older folks. Here are five potent contributors to aging that you should avoid at all costs in order to reduce physical signs of aging and stave off deteriorating health.

1. Sugar

Sugar is increasingly being recognized as one of the worst substances you can put in your body. A large body of research shows that sugar--not fat--is a major underlying cause of obesity and heart disease and it causes inflammation all over your body that contributes to a range of devastating diseases as well as premature aging of the skin. Limiting sugar in your diet can extend your life and foster good overall health.

2. Smoking

We all know smoking is really, really bad for you. Not only that but it contributes to signs of aging. Cigarette smoking is the best way to age prematurely because of its damaging effect on collagen, elastin, and tissues that make your skin look youthful and plump. Premature wrinkling is very common among smokers, particularly around the mouth. Smoking also yellows your teeth, dulls your skin, hair, and nails, and damages your vocal cords, leaving you with a raspy voice. It's never too late to quit smoking. If you're having trouble quitting, talk to your doctor about medication or nicotine replacement therapies that can help.

3. UV rays

Exposure to the sun's damaging UV rays makes your skin age more quickly, causing wrinkles and spots--not to mention skin cancer. Protecting your skin against UV rays now can slow down the aging process and keep your skin healthy and youthful. Wear sunscreen on exposed skin whenever you're outdoors, even in the winter. Same goes if you work near windows or spend a lot of time driving.

4. A negative attitude.

When it comes to aging, you are what you think you are. If you believe that the number of years you've been on the earth defines you, and you feel useless, outdated, and finished with life, chances are, you won't age happily or gracefully. But if you think of age as simply a number and not your defining characteristic, and you embrace the wisdom you've gained and continue to live your life seeking out new experiences and trying new things, you'll be happier and more productive. A study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association found that seniors who have a positive attitude about aging are 40 percent more likely to recover from illness or disability than people who have a negative attitude about it.

5. Stress.

Stress promotes inflammation and contributes to heart disease and other illnesses. Chronic stress can age you very quickly, making you look and feel older. Reducing your stress is important for a healthy appearance, good health, and longevity. Regular exercise--the Centers for Disease Control recommends 150 minutes a week--helps keep stress under control, and daily meditation not only reduces stress on the spot, but also helps your brain and body better cope with it in general. When you're feeling particularly stressed out, deep breathing exercises reduce stress hormone levels and send more oxygen to your brain and cells to help you cope with the stress and feel calmer.

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