Anti-Aging: 8 Things Science Says Accelerate Aging

There’s no escaping aging—nor should we feel the pressure to look like we’ve escaped it. But looking much older or younger than your biological age isn’t just a result of genetics.

Lifestyle can really make a difference in how old you feel and look. dr Noel Young, associate of clinical innovation at blood testing company Thriva (, says: “Although our life expectancy may be increasing, our health span – our time in good health – remains much smaller than expected.

“Chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes, which in most cases are lifestyle-related, are very common and are associated with faster aging.”

Young points out that “these conditions are associated with shorter telomeres” (structures that cover the ends of our chromosomes and protect them from damage), but adds, “The good news is that certain lifestyle changes can help It accompanies them to prevent chronic diseases and to prevent accelerated aging.”

Here are the eight lifestyle choices that may be making you age faster.

drink too much

A new study from Oxford University has found new evidence that alcohol accelerates biological aging by damaging DNA. Experts looked at data from nearly 250,000 people and found that those who drank more than 17 units of alcohol per week had shorter telomeres.

Director of Studies Dr. Anya Topiwala says: “Shortened telomeres – more advanced biological aging – increase the risk of diseases later in life such as Alzheimer’s, cancer and heart disease. Of course we can’t change our genetics, but we may be able to change our lifestyle by drinking less, exercising more and quitting smoking if we want to reduce the risk of faster biological aging.

The sun

Various studies have shown that sunlight causes skin to age – a 2013 French study found that UV exposure was responsible for 80% of the visible signs of facial aging.

sit a lot

As we become increasingly sedentary, it becomes harder to build muscle as we age. According to Young, we lose about 1% of our muscle mass every year after age 35, putting us at risk of osteoporosis, frailty, and falls with injuries such as hip fractures as we age.

“So stay active in your everyday life,” he says. “Try things like walking 4,000 to 6,000 steps a day or taking the stairs. Get regular exercise that you enjoy, such as swimming, yoga, or exercising. Even simple changes like using a standing desk can help keep your legs and muscles strong.”


Smoking is thought to affect the production of collagen, the protein that keeps skin healthy and elastic. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, which is why the skin begins to sag and form wrinkles. Smoking can speed up this process and lead to premature aging of the skin.

(Gareth Fuller/PA)

(PA wire)

A 2009 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, found four factors that may help prevent nearly 80% of chronic diseases often associated with aging. Research cites these as; never smoke, have a body mass index below 30, be physically active for at least 3.5 hours per week, and eat a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, and low in meat.

A similar 2008 study from the University of Cambridge found that combining healthy behaviors can add 14 years to your life.

A bad diet

High-fiber foods like vegetables, beans, grains, and fruits are linked to longer telomeres and improved lifespan, explains Young, who says these foods are packed with nutrients like vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, as well as other antioxidants. The fiber it contains is also an important nutrient that helps regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy gut biome.

“It’s also important to include sources of healthy fats like fish, avocado, and nuts,” he says. “These foods play an important role in eating habits like the Mediterranean diet, which is why it may be particularly beneficial for your health.”

Some foods are linked to poorer health outcomes and shorter telomeres. This includes foods like red and processed meats and sugary drinks. “It’s best to limit these as much as possible,” Young says.

Being too stressed

Long-term stress is linked to shorter telomeres, and Young says it’s a good idea to actively manage stress. “You can start identifying what’s triggering your stress by journaling, and relaxation therapies like deep breathing, mindfulness, meditation, and exercises like yoga can also help. If you are suffering from anxiety, depression or PTSD, it is important to speak to your GP and seek the appropriate help.”

skip vitamins

Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps reduce the effects of aging, Young says, since low levels are linked to shorter lifespans. “It is recommended to supplement in the UK during the winter months (October – March) as it is quite difficult to obtain from food sources. Sunlight is a good source in summer – but aim for reasonable levels (and wear SPF, of course).

According to a 2022 Italian study, taking an omega-3 supplement may increase telomere length. Young suggests that the anti-inflammatory compounds have other beneficial effects, such as: B. helping to regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels in the blood, which is beneficial for your heart health.

lack of sleep

Shorter telomeres are linked to insufficient sleep, says Young, who points out that sleep deprivation also increases the likelihood of unhealthy behaviors, such as eating.

“It’s important to get seven to nine hours of good sleep every day,” he says. “Be mindful of your bedtime and environment, avoid caffeinated after-lunch drinks and screens, and exercise an hour or two before bed. And, as much as possible, make sure your sleeping environment is dark, quiet, and cool.”

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