Why are we ageing faster? Here are the daily habits that may lead to premature ageing

Why are we ageing faster? Here are the daily habits that may lead to premature ageing

Here are the daily habits that may lead to premature ageing

Luke CoutinhoUpdated: Friday, March 10, 2023, 09:08 PM IST
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Premature greying, early puberty, early menopause, wrinkles and fine lines, bone aches, signs of memory loss, early onset of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and the like. In times when we have access to state of the art medical facilities, superfoods, supplements, anti-ageing pills and potions, why are we ageing faster than we should? 

Ageing starts the moment we are born. It's inevitable, and no human being has control over that. But we have control over the pace of ageing and how we age. 

A 70-year-old man could either be in and out of hospitals, immobile, unhappy and on a laundry list of medications. Or, could be lean, muscular, fit, happy, and truly enjoying what he has achieved in life because he has the health to do that. And, we all are aware of people in our life whom we admire because they defy ageing! So, it's possible. 

Speaking about longevity, it simply isn't just about adding years to your life. Instead, it is about adding life to your years. It isn't about life span but about health span. 

Secret to graceful ageing and longevity

Scientists have studied the ageing process for a long time. The speed at which you age depends on the length of telomeres. Telomeres are structures that are found at the ends of chromosomes to cap and protect them. Imagine plastic caps at the ends of shoelaces to prevent fraying. Telomeres do exactly that! They protect the chromosomal ends.  

Studies show a direct correlation between telomere length and life expectancy, DNA damage, and age-related diseases. Telomere length is sensitive to lifestyle and its shortening is scientifically linked with the possible onset of:

● Cancer

● Type 2 diabetes

● Alzheimer's 

● Inflammatory diseases 

● Accelerated ageing 

What is in our control to protect these telomeres?

Just because it's about genes, does not mean we cannot do anything. We have a lot more control over genes than we think. The entire concept of epigenetics is based on the role of environment (internal and external) on genetic expression. For example: the habit of smoking has a potential to switch on a bad gene, and meditation, on the other hand, can switch on a good gene. 

Here are some of the lifestyle habits that are causing you to age faster:

Sleep deprivation: Sleep deprivation can increase the amount of oxidative stress in the body, which can damage cells and tissues over time. This can lead to a variety of age-related health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurological disorders.

During sleep, the body also carries out a variety of restorative processes, including cellular repair and regeneration. When we don't get enough sleep, these processes may not occur as effectively, which can contribute to the ageing process.

Sedentary lifestyle: Regular exercise, particularly strength training, is essential for building and maintaining muscle mass. Muscles are the only age-reversing organ. As we age, our muscle mass naturally decreases, but a sedentary lifestyle can accelerate this process. This can lead to a variety of age-related health problems, such as decreased mobility and increased risk of falls. Build lean muscle. It does not have to be through lifting heavy weights. Get comfortable with your own body weight first, through exercises like planks, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, pull-ups, pushups and so on. 

Chronic stress: Oxidative stress again. Chronic stress and unresolved negative emotions can cause early ageing by increasing inflammation, oxidative stress, and cortisol levels in the body. Furthermore, chronic stress can also cause telomere shortening. Managing stress and negative emotions in healthy ways can help slow down the ageing process and promote overall health and well-being.

Constantly nibbling and overeating: Science says that even a 30% reduction of our daily calorie intake is enough to promote longevity and slow ageing. Or, simply reduce your portion size by 1-2 spoons. This in no way means starvation or deprivation. But eating exactly how much our body needs. A lot of us are eating more than needed. Constantly nibbling, snacking, overeating, sends our digestive system on an overdrive, and just like anything else that is overused without giving it rest wears out eventually, our digestive system can wear out too. This is where and why the beautiful concept of fasting and giving our body’s a break to rest, repair and rejuvenate comes in. Fasting and embracing short periods of hunger (till you are comfortable) also helps activate the two most important genes for longevity - FoxO3 and SIRT. These genes are regulators of lifespan, inflammation, oxidative stress, cancer prevention, immunity, and age-related diseases.

What we have shared here is what we have learned through science, experience, and our interactions with people in their 80s, and even 90s and taking wisdom from them. Simple people living simple lives. Best example? Our grandparents and the elderly. Go back and ask - What do they do to stay healthy in their 80s and 90s? You will get your answer.

When you tie all of these lifestyle changes together, you can increase your health span. Every other drug, injection, or pill sold for longevity is just a fad because if it worked, we wouldn't be talking about it here today. And while it’s never a guarantee that all of us will live long, it doesn't mean we stop putting in the effort. Yes, you live only once, but we are all here for a graceful and abundant life. 

(Luke Coutinho, Holistic Nutrition and Lifestyle – Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, Founder of You Care - All about YOU by Luke Coutinho)

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