THE lifestyle choices that you make daily not only affect the way you feel, but they may significantly affect the way you look. And if you want to enjoy staring at yourself in the mirror a while longer and enjoy a more youthful body, Dr Samantha Nicholson, medical internist at Imani Medical Centre, Papine Plaza, says that you must avoid everyday bad habits.
“Successful ageing is a term used to identify older individuals who are free from chronic disease and continue to function well into old age, both physically and cognitively. This can be further broken down into “essentially healthy”, which identifies those with no acute disease, no recent history of cancer, with a well-controlled chronic disease, and “exceptionally healthy”, which identifies older adults who take no medications, have no chronic disease, are normotensive, and have a normal body weight,” Dr Nicholson said.
She explained that taking care of oneself by making good lifestyle choices, supported by psychosocial and genetic factors, will contribute to successful ageing as well as longevity.
And while there is no single formula for achieving longevity, and genes cannot be bought, the doctor shares a list of habits that you should get rid of if you hope to slow down the ageing process:
Dr Nicholson said that while many of us are familiar with the catastrophic effect smoking has on respiratory health, smoking also contributes to wrinkles, and studies have shown that smoking can produce enzymes which break down the elasticity and collagen in your skin, which may lead to saggy skin. Other consequences of smoking include deterioration of existing skin conditions such as psoriasis, and it may cause the skin to become quite pale or uneven in colour as it deprives the skin of oxygen. Additionally, it may lead to thick skin as well as discoloured nails and teeth.
2. Excessive sugar intake
Some of us have an uncontrollable sweet tooth – from drinks to pastries — and while it may be satisfying to our palates, Dr Nicholson says it may be destroying our skin and could set off other medical complications including diabetes, weight gain/obesity, hormonal imbalance in women particularly, and cancers.
3. Not drinking enough water
Drinking water is essential to keeping your body hydrated. When your body lacks water, there is the possibility of getting kidney disease as well as dry, lacklustre skin. Research shows that the skin loses elasticity when the body is not sufficiently hydrated. In fact, drinking water is linked to giving the body a natural glow as well as contributing to clean, smooth skin. Also, when you don't drink enough water to flush the system, the toxins and waste products build up in the body, causing cells to deteriorate and die. Some of the common results of these are the skin sagging, memory failing, your hair falling out, energy dropping and hormone levels plummeting.
4. Heavy alcohol consumption
Research shows that since alcohol results in dehydration by pulling the moisture from the skin, it may make fine lines more obvious or exacerbate wrinkles and skin conditions such as acne. In addition, alcohol deprives the body of vitamin A, which is essential to the cell renewal and turnover process, and in the case of sugary alcoholic beverages, releases damaging free radicals.
5. Poor sleep hygiene
Lack of sleep results in fatigue, irritability, poor concentration, compromised memory, impaired immune system, obesity, and even death. Dr Nicholson advises that as often as you can, you should aim for the recommended eight hours of sleep or close to it.
6. A stressful lifestyle
Stress can be quite debilitating. Dr Nicholson notes that a stressful lifestyle may result in hypertension, heart disease and death, and may interfere with your sleeping habits. She explained that research points to cases where severe stress can destroy the DNA in the cells, and can trigger the destruction of cells which could accelerate ageing.
7. Unprotected sun exposure
Since we live in a tropical climate, many of us take for granted the importance of protecting our skin from the direct penetration of the sun's rays. The UV rays of the sun may not only contribute to skin cancer but may cause cataracts, wrinkles, and contribute to the weakening of the skin cells and blood vessels.