If you eat vegetables fewer than three times a day, get less than two hours of physical activity a week, drink more than three alcoholic drinks a day (men) or two a day (women), and smoke tobacco—then watch out. You are on a fast track to aging, unhealth and, possibly, a premature expiration date.
Those are the findings of a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Lead researcher, Elizabeth Kvaavik of the University of Oslo, says, “These habits combined substantially increased the risk of death and made people who engaged in them seem 12 years older than people in the healthiest group.” The “healthiest” group Kvaavik refers to includes those who never smoked or who quit smoking; teetotalers, women who drank fewer than two drinks a day and men who drank fewer than three drinks daily; those who engaged in at least two hours of physical activity a week; and those who ate their veggies at least three times a day.
While these habits are obviously bad for you and contribute to aging or hasten death, there are other not-so-obvious “agers,” too. Dr. Diana Schwarzbein, renowned endrocrinologist and author of The Schwarzbein Principle, says there are many factors that can put you on the accelerated metabolic aging track. Among those are: prolonged high insulin levels, not getting enough healthy fats in your diet, skipping meals or yo-yo dieting, using (past or present) prescription drugs or over-the-counter drugs, eating damaged fats like trans fatty acids, being overweight with excess fat around the midsection or underweight with decreased muscle mass, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, allergies, headaches, chronic pain and much more.
Then there are these agers: AGEs. That’s an acronym for Advanced Glycation Endproducts. AGEs are sugar-derived substances that form in the body and accumulate over time. AGEs negatively alter the structure and function of proteins and other macronutrients at the cellular level. This can lead to unhealthy oxidation and inflammation levels with systemic effects on the body, including internal organs, muscles and skin. For skin, AGEs and free radicals break down collagen and elastin, giving telltale signs of what AGEs do inwardly—degrade health and accelerate aging.
Food processing, especially heating, can increase the effects of glycation and oxidation in foods. What’s more is that for the past 50 years, food manufacturers have been adding synthetic AGEs to our foods for taste purposes—which has added up to increased AGEs in our foods. The good news is that restricting dietary AGEs—through low or no heating of foods—can result in improvement. Eating nutrient-dense, fresh, raw foods can significantly reduce circulating AGEs within a month’s time.
Protein-rich foods like organic, whole raw milk, omega-3 eggs, organic cheeses, organic free-range poultry and grass-fed organic beef are also recommended. These foods contain a naturally occurring amino acid called carnosine, which is believed to support healthy cell membranes in the body.
Get off the aging fast track. Avoid those four obvious unhealthy habits as well other agers, and eat a healthy diet, including foods like fresh raw veggies and healthy proteins.
A younger you awaits.