You ditched the cigarettes years ago. You no longer bake yourself for hours in the sun. And it’s been ages since you overhauled your diet, dropping the junk for healthy wholesome foods instead.
So why does the reflection in your mirror still look older than the age on your license?
Turns out some common habits could be putting your timeline on fast forward. And these age-accelerating mistakes may be making you look old before your time.
Look younger (and FEEL younger) starting NOW
We don’t all age at the same pace. But experts say you can dramatically slow your own pace down, and look younger, by switching up your routine.
Following are five common habits that could be causing you to look (and feel) older than your age.
1. Cutting corners on sleep:
If you’re clocking in at less than six hours of sleep a night, it’s really no wonder you don’t recognize yourself in the mirror anymore. Cutting corners on sleep is one of the surest ways to put yourself on the aging fast track.
Your body is busier than a bee while you’re sleeping. It uses the time to heal itself, mopping up toxins, repairing damage and rejuvenating your entire body head to toe. And that, of course, includes your skin.
But when you don’t get enough sleep, more and more of those critical repairs are left undone. And as a result, you end up looking at a tired, wrinkled stranger in the mirror. After all, they call it “beauty sleep” for a reason.
You may find you don’t need quite as much sleep as you did when you were a teenager. But if you want to look younger, and feel healthier, you still should be aiming for seven to eight hours of shuteye a night.
2. Yo-yo dieting:
Yo-yo dieting—repeatedly losing and gaining weight—can take a real toll on your appearance. Research shows this kind of rapid up and down dieting accelerates brain and skin aging. (And it can put a strain on your heart, too!)
With yo-yo dieting, your ability to focus suffers. And stretched skin can have trouble bouncing back from rapid weight loss, leaving you with sags and bags.
Stop the skin destroying roller coaster of gaining and losing. To look younger, aim for losing a pound or two a week until you reach your goal weight instead. And then focus on maintaining a healthy diet.
3. Drinking too much alcohol:
If you’re a wine drinker, or a beer fan, relax. We’re not going to tell you to go cold turkey. In fact, despite some mixed messages out there a few glasses of alcohol a week can even have some health benefits. Including, according to Healthier Talk contributor Dr. Rothfeld, keeping the cardiologist at bay.
But if you’re passing that “few” mark, your drinking habit can quickly start to cause problems. Alcohol dehydrates skin. So instead of the plump, supple complexion you desire, you’re left with thin, dry skin that wrinkles easily.
Plus, the more alcohol you drink, the harder your liver has to work at purging toxins. And when it falls behind on the job, and those toxins build-up, it’s like hitting the fast-forward button on aging. Your hair, nails and skin are often the first victims.
If you suspect you’re drinking too much it’s time to cut back. You won’t just look younger you’ll be healthier too. If you’re a woman, most experts agree up to a glass of alcohol a day is typically fine. And guys, you can do up to two.
4. Skipping sex:
Believe it or not, sex doesn’t just make you feel great. It makes you look great, too. And there’s even research to prove it.
A University of California study found that women who took a roll in the hay at least once a week had longer telomeres than women who had sex less often. Telomeres are the markers of aging that sit on the end of all our chromosomes. And the longer they are the lower our biological age is.
In other words, long telomeres mean we feel and look younger.
Researchers in Taiwan found that regular sexual activity protects men from heart disease. And scientists at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in the UK found that both men and women with active sex lives look as much as seven years younger than the age on their birth certificate! (Who says staying healthy can’t be fun?)
5. Skipping the fat entirely:
Repeat after us: eating fat doesn’t make you fat. But avoiding it entirely sure can make you look old. And even worse, it can harm your health.
The truth is your body needs fat. And the healthy fats you’ll find in foods such as avocadoes, nuts, olive oil and fish will help you stay healthy and look younger.
Omega-3s fats help keep your skin smooth and beautiful so you look younger. Plus they help keep your joints healthy, your eyes sharp, your brain focused and your heart strong so you feel younger too.
Don’t let these rapid aging mistakes make you old before your time. Look younger—and love what you see every time you look in the mirror—by ditching these bad habits today.