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20 August 2018, 12:56
From 'sleep debt' to chronic stress, these familiar pitfalls of modern society can take a few years off your life.
Most of us dream of living a long and healthy life, but there are many aspects of modern life that speed up the ageing process.
For an increasing number of people, the stress of work, relationships and so on are taking years off their lives.
Nutritional biochemist Dr Libby Weaver spoke to the MailOnline and revealed six things people do every day that age you faster and there are a few surprises.
Not getting enough sleep can speed up the ageing process
1. Compensating for a poor diet with multivitamins
Although vitamins and supplements can be a great addition to a good diet, they do not compensate for poor eating habits and should not be employed to make up for a big weekend.
Dr Weaver states that the best source of vitamins and nutrients is food, especially plants which contain phytochemicals. Many of these are potent antioxidants, crucial artillery in the war on ageing.
"Antioxidants help to prevent oxidative damage, which is one of the biochemical processes that contributes to ageing," she said.
2. Overdoing it with exercise
Moderation is often the key with anything health related and exercise is no different. A common mistake most people make is to 'smash the gym' several times a week, sometimes every day, in an attempt to get fit.
However, the effect of this excessive exercise can be counterproductive. "Over training doesn't allow the body to recover and repair properly, and with more rapid breathing we are actually producing more free radicals, which can accelerate ageing processes if we're not simultaneously increasing our intake of antioxidant-rich foods," says Dr Weaver.
3. Clocking up 'sleep debt'
In today's fast-paced world there is never enough time to get everything done. For that reason, there are millions of people out there who sacrifice their sleep in order to squeeze more into their day.
Adults need seven to nine hours sleep per night, which gives the body the time it needs to repair and recover no matter what you've spent your day doing. Losing out on this crucial time means the ageing process is being sped up.
Also, tired people are more likely to consume refined sugars and processed food, which can inhibit the absorption of essential nutrients.
Fruit and vegetables are vital weapons in the war on ageing
4. Overreacting to pressure
A lot of people are working hard, contending with raising a family, trying to earn a living and see friends and family. It can be a lot to manage with deadlines, stressful commutes, pressured work and home lives and lots more.
How you react to these daily pressures has a direct relationship to the body and its stress levels.
We spend most days telling ourselves that the stress we're dealing with is a life or death matter, resulting in a higher levels of cortisol and adrenalin in the body, which leads to a loss of muscle mass. Long term this has an adverse effect on mobility.
5. Exposure to pollution
There is very little we can about the toxic air that blights most towns and cities on this planet.
However, what we can do is support our natural detox pathways, namely the digestive system and the main detoxification organ in the body; the liver.
Our liver needs to be nourished and cared for just as much as any other internal organ, but the role it plays in ridding our body of toxins means it should never be neglected. Minimising our intake of trans fats, caffeine, refined sugar and alcohol helps put less pressure on the liver, together with foods such as avocado, leafy greens and beetroot.
6. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs)
A bad diet has many negative repercussions for our health and certainly speeds up the ageing process.
One of the by-products of a diet rich in saturated fat and refined sugars is AGEs, which can form when sugar binds to some of our DNA. Avoiding fried foods and processed products and following a plant-based diet means there is much less chance of AGEs forming.