By Nicci Micco, November/December 2007
A poor diet and couch-potato tendencies are two ways to accelerate aging—but they’re not the only behaviors that can make you old beyond your years. In YOU: Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty (Free Press), just out, Mehmet C. Oz, M.D., and Michael F. Roizen, M.D., discuss other “major agers” and ways to combat them. Here are three tips from the book to get you started.
They say: “Stress isn’t just something you write off as a need for spa treatments; it’s a major biological driver of aging.”
Why? When stress hormones stay elevated for long periods, they can harm the immune system, increase risk of damage to arteries and set up a situation in which the body tends to hang on to body fat.
Try: Meditating, leaning on supportive friends, planning ahead, getting a pet.[pagebreak]
They say: “...most of us don’t get enough sleep, and that plays a significant role in our aging.”
Why? Skimping on shut-eye leads to a weakened immune system, reduced mental response times and increased risk for heart disease.
Try: Avoiding “stimulating” activities and eating—particularly foods that contain caffeine—just before bed, eliminating sleep saboteurs (an aching back, allergies, etc.) with appropriate remedies.[pagebreak]
They say: “Now we are exposed to hundreds [of toxins] daily, which stress our systems and tax them as we age.”
Why? Chronic exposure to chemicals and microorganisms (think: dust mites) can cause fatigue or “a general feeling of blahness” because they cause our liver and immune system to work harder at detoxifying the body. As a result, we’re more prone to feeling the effects of aging.
Try: Switching to gentler cleaning products, removing your shoes when you enter the house (and wiping pets’ paws when they do) to avoid tracking in pesticides, etc., and using dehumidifiers to reduce mold.
Photo Credit: James Robinson