Do you have any control over premature aging?
Stress is a natural response by your body to both real and perceived stressors. These stressors can be physical, emotional or mental. Acute stress happens when something stimulates an immediate stress response, like a cut on your finger. This type of stress response is usually quick to both come and go, and is very normal.
Chronic stress is when your body is dealing with these real or perceived stressors almost all the time, or when your body is just unable to properly handle the amount of stress you’re under. It’s chronic stress that can lead to premature aging.
How Stress Affects Your Skin
Chronic stress increases inflammation. Inflammatory skin responses to stress include psoriasis, rosacea, acne and eczema. Some people even get hives. While not directly related to premature aging, these skin conditions indicate that you are inflamed. And inflammation over long periods of time reduces the youthfulness of your skin.
Chronic stress, or high levels of cortisol, can impair your skin’s ability to heal. This can leave your skin looking dull and even spotty as blemishes don’t fade quickly or completely.
When you’re chronically stressed, your immune system is compromised, too. This can increase your risk of infections and exacerbate inflammation.
And, finally, studies show that chronic stress can actually shorten the length of your DNA. Telomeres are the protective ends of each DNA strand and chronic stress shortens them, leading to reduced cellular integrity.
High levels of cortisol also reduce the production of collagen, too, so your skin becomes saggy and wrinkles appear.
How to Reduce Premature Aging
Since chronic stress is such a huge factor in premature aging, stress management is key.
Learn to address chronic stress in a healthy manner. Take time each day to relax. A few deep breaths in stressful situations can calm the nerves and regulate cortisol production. How you handle and react to stressful situations is the most important aspect for managing stress and cortisol.
Help manage stress by reducing pro-inflammatory foods, like sugar, gluten and dairy. Ditch as much processed food as possible, and try to avoid too many high-carb foods. It’s important to keep insulin and blood sugar balanced, too, to prevent premature aging.
Eat to Reduce Premature Aging
Premature aging prevention isn’t just about the skin. You’ll see the effects of premature aging in your skin, of course, but the effects of chronic stress, inflammation and other aging factors can affect your cardiovascular system, muscles and gut health too.
The most important thing to do to prevent premature aging is to eat mindfully and chew your food thoroughly. This helps set your body up for success because it boosts digestive power. It also ensures that foods are broken down to a point where your body can use them.
Your body needs nutrients to prevent premature aging.
Foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and water content are your best bet for healthy skin and organs. Watercress is a very hydrating food, not to mention that it contains tons of health-promoting vitamins and minerals.
Antioxidant-rich foods boost youthfulness and cardiovascular health. Increase your intake of foods rich in vitamins C and E for their antioxidant properties. Bell peppers, citrus fruits, sunflower seeds, and salmon help prevent premature aging.
Healthy fats, like raw nuts and seeds and avocado, contain vitamins A, C, E and K, plus other minerals to improve skin health. Fatty acids help regulate the stress response, balance blood sugar and reduce inflammation, too.
When it comes to chronic stress, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and healthy fats is going to give you the most benefits. This type of diet will help your body manufacture the right balance of hormones, plus it will give you nutrients needed to reduce DNA damage, balance blood sugar and keep inflammation in check.
But what’s really going to help you prevent premature aging is stress management. If you’re not able to reduce the stressors in your life, it’s time to learn to approach stress in a more healthful fashion.
This means setting aside ‘me’ time to relax and only do happy, enjoyable tasks or hobbies. Exercise according to your body’s signals and energy levels. Try to stop worrying or overanalyzing situations in your life and focus on the present, what’s good about the ‘now.’