If you’re like most men and women, turning 40 feels like life as you know it is accelerating to an end. People often turn to expensive cosmetic creams, botox injections, supplements, and fad diets, all in search of the fountain of youth. No matter how enticing a product box or advertisement may seem, the truth is, these are merely temporary band-aids that cover up underlying health problems.
Want to look and feel young, fresh, and like you just spent a weekend in the Bahamas? Save your money and follow these quick and cheap lifestyle fixes:
1) Use Sunscreen
• Problem: UV radiation from the sun is a carcinogen and was responsible for almost 60,000 skin cancer diagnoses and over 8,600 deaths in the United States in 2008 (CDC) alone. Excessive UV exposure can damage DNA and accelerate skin wrinkling and dryness.
• Solution: Reapply sunscreen throughout the day if you know you’re going to be in direct sunlight. Researchers believe between 5-30 minutes of sunlight between the hours of 10am and 3pm is all that is needed to get the proper daily dose of Vitamin D. Avoid tanning beds all together, as they can emit abnormally high doses of UV radiation. To keep your skin looking extra fresh try the Voskos Greek Yogurt face mask. Greek yogurt contains lactic acid, which can help exfoliate and moisturize the skin.
2) Minimize Stress
• Problem: In my opinion, stress is one of the major causes of aging and most diseases. Chronic stress can wreak havoc on the endocrine system and create hormonal imbalances. Chronic stress has been shown to accelerate atherosclerosis, Type II diabetes, abdominal obesity, and hypertension (McEwen and Seeman 1999). It can also lead to “immunosuppressive effects” causing you to get sick more often.
• Solution: Make stress management a priority and find time during your day to de-stress. Methods such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, and exercise have all been shown in clinical settings to reduce blood cortisol levels (the body’s stress hormone).
3) Maintain a Proper Diet
• Problem: The modern American diet is high in trans- and saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and sugar (both from sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup). This type of diet has been linked on many accounts to numerous diseases such as heart disease, obesity, Type II diabetes, and even some cancers!
• Solution: Maintain a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables (rich in anti-oxidants), lean protein (mainly egg whites, poultry, and fish), nuts and seeds, and whole grains. The only supplement I take is EPA-DHA fish oil (approximately 3 grams per day). Avoid eating out whenever possible. If time is an issue, make all of your meals ahead of time on Sunday for the following week. Don’t forget to drink between 1-3 liters of water (depending on physical activity) daily to help flush out toxins from the liver.
4) Limit Alcohol Consumption
• Problem: Alcohol is a poison, and thus should be consumed in very small quantities. The side effects are seemingly endless: weight gain, hypertension, impaired immunity, some cancers, fatty liver, hepatitis, liver cirrhosis, and liver cancer. Your liver can only metabolize about 1 drink per hour. Chronic alcohol use will accelerate the aging process.
• Solution: Limit alcohol consumption to 1-2 drinks per weekend, or even better, 1-2 drinks per month.
5) Don’t Smoke Anything, Period!
• Problem: There is no benefit to smoking. Whether a substance is addictive or not, smoking causes cancer of the bladder, cervix, esophagus, kidneys, larynx, lungs, pharynx, pancreas, oral cavity, and stomach, as well as birth defects, coronary heart disease, emphysema, bronchitis, and COPD, just to name a few. Given the correlation between disease and aging, smoking will cause you to age faster.
• Solution: Don’t smoke anything, Period!
6) Limit Prescription Drug Use
• Problem: These days there is a drug for everything. Sometimes (more often than not), the long-term side effects of these drugs outweigh the benefits. Living a healthy lifestyle can often fix some health problems without drug use. For example, simply changing dietary and exercise habits can alleviate the hypertension and Type II diabetes caused by obesity.
• Solution: Prescription drugs should be an absolute last resort. Talk to your doctor about weighing the long-term risks and benefits of the drugs you are taking.
7) Get Proper Sleep
• Problem: Most people don’t get enough sleep and vary the times that they go to bed. Altering your circadian rhythm can cause metabolic and hormonal fluctuations, leading to increases in stress and fat storage.
• Solution: Get a consistent 7-8 hours of sleep per night and try to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day.