Habits That Are Making You Look Older Than You Really Are

Hey there! So you just achieved that milestone. How old are you now? 60? Congrats! What is that? You’re only 42? You look….ok (muttering under my breath).

Sounds like a scenario you’ve seen or experienced yourself? It can be a tough pill to swallow. Looking and feeling like you are well beyond your years.

See, there are many instances that our chronological age (according to the calendar) does not match our biological age (the age our body indicates we are).

It’s particularly troublesome when your biological age is higher than that of your chronological age, since it means you’re aging faster than the rate you should be.

This is not an exact science; but there are tests and observations that health professionals make that can demonstrate this in action.

Not sure what is the cause of this? There are actually some fairly universal causes. Let’s check them out below.

Low Grade/ Chronic Dehydration 

You know there's dehydration that while not full-blown, is still present and taking its toll on you. 

Think of the folks that don't like drinking water, for instance. There are so many people walking around in this state, as it's one of those things people often overlook, but boy, does it matter!

dehydration man

So, picture this- your skin is like a juicy plum. Hydrated, plump, and smooth. Dehydration turns it more into a prune – no offense to prunes, they're great, but you get the picture. 

When your body is short on water, your skin loses its plumpness and elasticity. Everything starts to look a bit wilted.

What's fascinating is that our skin is the largest organ and the primary barrier against environmental damage. When it's not getting enough water, this barrier function can be compromised. 

You might start noticing your skin feeling a bit tighter, more flaky, or irritated. Fine lines and wrinkles suddenly look more pronounced because, without adequate hydration, the skin can't properly repair itself or maintain that smooth, youthful structure.

But it's not just about the skin, either. Dehydration can make your eyes look sunken, and dark circles become more prominent because the area around your eyes is super delicate. Ever noticed how a late night followed by not enough water in the morning makes your eyes look like you've gone a few rounds in the ring? That's dehydration at work.

And sometimes, it's not just the amount of water you drink. Things like air conditioning, heating, and even some skincare products can sap moisture from your skin. You could be drinking water like a champion, but if the air around you is drier than a desert, your skin might still end up looking thirsty.

Remember to keep sipping that H2O throughout the day, maybe invest in a humidifier if you're living in a dry environment, and give your skin the hydration love it needs both inside and out.

Sun Exposure

You probably relish those days at the beach right? Or maybe you just love the sun and the outdoors. However, there is one thing to keep in mind- the fact that too much sun can age your skin excessively.

The main issue with excessive sun exposure is the damage it does to your skin's structure. The UV rays from the sun break down collagen and elastin. These are the proteins that keep your skin firm and elastic. When they get damaged, your skin starts to wrinkle and sag. It's like the support system of your skin weakens, and the visible result is aging.

Then there's the problem called sunspots. Spending too much time in the sun can cause these small, dark patches on your skin. They are basically areas where the sun has caused an increase in melanin production. These spots can make your skin look uneven and add to an older appearance.

The sun can also alter the texture of your skin. Excessive sun can make your skin feel rough and less smooth. This isn't just about looks; it can actually make your skin feel less comfortable.

Repeated sunburn is another big concern that should not be viewed as a badge of honor. It's not just painful but it also seriously harms your skin. Frequent sunburns can accelerate the aging process of your skin and increase the risk of skin cancer.

It's really important to use sunscreen, wear protective clothing, and just be mindful of how much time you're spending in direct sunlight. It's all about balance and protecting your skin.

Limiting Your Sleep

Have you ever wondered why it’s called “sleeping like a baby?” Maybe it's because it keeps you youthful? (I just made that up, but just maybe…)

What’s not debatable is the fact that skimping on sleep can add years to your appearance. It's more significant than you might think.

When you don't get enough sleep, the first thing that often gives you away is your eyes. Dark circles, puffiness, and those tell-tale bags can appear. It's like your body's crying out and saying, "Hey, I needed more rest!" The skin around your eyes is super thin, so any changes in your body show up there pretty quickly.

But it's not just looking tired that’s the issue. Lack of sleep can lead to a cascade of changes in your body that affect your skin's health. When you sleep, your body goes into repair mode. This is also when it produces collagen, which keeps your skin firm and prevents sagging. Miss out on sleep, and you're missing out on this essential rebuilding time, leading to faster aging of your skin.

Then there’s the stress hormone, cortisol. When you don't get enough sleep, your body produces more of this hormone. High levels of cortisol can break down the skin's collagen and elastin, leading to wrinkles and a less youthful appearance. It's like when you're feeling mentally stressed, your skin is stressed too, and it shows.

Another important role of sleep is hydration balance. Your body regulates moisture and pH levels during sleep. Not enough sleep can throw this balance off, leading to drier, less supple skin. Dry skin tends to show lines and wrinkles more than well-hydrated skin.

Consistently missing out on good sleep is like giving your skin a one-two sucker punch. It misses out on repair time, and the stress response in your body can accelerate signs of aging. So, catching those z's is a big deal for looking (and feeling) your best!

If you’re still finding it difficult to sleep even after giving it your best, Dreamzzz is an all-natural and non-habit-forming sleep aid that can help get your circadian cycle back on track, so give it a shot today.

Smoking

It's pretty staggering, in a not-so-great way, how much of an impact smoking can have on your appearance.

Many people start smoking on their teens, often due to peer pressure, and have to live with this nasty vice for the rest of their lives. There is no benefit to smoking cigarettes. Collectively, there are several negative effects of smoking.

second hand smoker

First off, smoking affects your skin. It causes a reduction in blood flow, and this means your skin doesn't get as much oxygen and important nutrients as it should. The result? Your skin can start to look dull, gray, and lifeless.

Then there's the issue with collagen and elastin, the fibers that give your skin strength and elasticity. Smoking damages these fibers, leading to sagging and wrinkling. You might notice wrinkles around the mouth, known as smoker's lines, from the repeated action of dragging on a cigarette. And these aren't just surface-level changes. The chemicals in cigarettes deeply affect the skin's structure.

The way smoking impacts your eyes is another thing. You might find yourself squinting more to keep smoke out of your eyes. Over time, this squinting can contribute to those crow's feet around your eyes. 

Your teeth and gums are next. Smoking can lead to yellowed teeth and unhealthy gums, which can make you look older, too. It's not just about skin – your smile counts a lot in your overall appearance.

Smoking also reduces your skin's natural ability to heal. So, small cuts or wounds might take longer to heal, and your skin's response to sun damage isn't as robust. This means that smokers often deal with more sun damage, another significant factor that ages your skin.

So, when you smoke, you're robbing your skin and overall appearance of health and youth. It's a habit that literally leaves its mark.

Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol consumption can have a pretty significant impact on your appearance, making you look older than your actual age.

Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it causes your body to lose fluids. This dehydration doesn't just make you feel thirsty; it takes a toll on your skin too. Dehydrated skin can appear dry, dull, and flaky. It can also accentuate wrinkles and fine lines, basically giving your skin an older appearance.

Then there's the issue of inflammation. Have you ever noticed how your face can look a bit puffy after a night out? That's because alcohol induces an inflammatory response in your body. This inflammation can lead to bloating, redness, and puffiness - particularly noticeable in the face. Over time, frequent alcohol consumption can lead to persistent inflammation, which accelerates the aging process of your skin.

Alcohol can also affect your sleep quality too. Even though a drink might help you nod off, the sleep you get after drinking isn't as restorative as natural sleep. Poor sleep leads to tired-looking skin, dark circles, and a generally worn-out appearance. Alcohol should not be considered a nightcap.

Another point of worry is that excessive alcohol can mess with your nutrient absorption. It particularly impacts the absorption of vitamins A and C, which are crucial for skin repair and collagen production. Lower levels of these vitamins can make your skin lose its elasticity and firmness faster than it would naturally.

And let's not forget about your ever-important organ, the liver. When your liver is overworked dealing with alcohol, it can affect how effectively it removes important toxins from your body. These toxins can negatively impact your skin's health and appearance, leading to a less-than-glowing complexion.

While the occasional drink might not cause too much harm, regular and excessive alcohol consumption will make your skin look dehydrated, puffy, and generally older than it is. Your skin reflects your lifestyle choices, and alcohol is one of those choices that can leave a visible mark.

Not Focusing On Plant Based Nutrition

Plant based nutrition remains an important source of several anti-oxidant and bioactive nutrients, difficult to acquire elsewhere.

Not surprisingly, failing to include enough plant-based foods in your diet can significantly impact your perceived physical age. Plant-based foods are loaded with nutrients that are essential for maintaining youthful skin, and missing out on them can accelerate the aging process.

One of the key benefits of plant-based foods as mentioned is their high antioxidant content. Antioxidants fight against free radicals, which are the molecules that can cause damage to your skin cells. 

This damage can lead to premature aging, including wrinkles, fine lines, and a loss of elasticity. By not eating enough fruits and vegetables, you're missing out on this protective effect.

Another aspect is hydration. Many plant-based foods have a naturally high water content, which can help hydrate your skin from the inside out. Think of foods like cucumbers, tomatoes, and watermelon. If your diet is low in these types of foods, your skin might appear drier and less plump, which can make fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable.

Plant-based foods are also great sources of vitamins and minerals that are essential for skin health. For example, Vitamin C, found in citrus fruits and leafy greens, is vital for collagen production. Collagen is what keeps your skin firm and youthful. A lack of Vitamin C can lead to a decrease in collagen synthesis, causing your skin to lose firmness and elasticity.

The fiber in plant-based foods is also important. It helps in digestion and the removal of toxins from your body. Poor digestion and toxin build-up can lead to skin problems, like acne or a dull complexion, both of which can make you look older.

All these factors combined can contribute to your skin looking older than it really is. So, including a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds in your diet is key for maintaining youthful, healthy-looking skin.

Overconsumption Of  Processed Foods

Processed foods might be delicious, and cheap, but at what true price? How about the fact that chowing down on too many of these processed foods can age you faster than you might expect.

When you eat a lot of processed foods, you're often getting a hefty dose of sugar, unhealthy fats, and a whole lot of salt. These aren't just bad for your waistline; they can wreak havoc on your skin too.

read nutrition labels

Take sugar, for example. It's everywhere in processed foods, even in things you wouldn't expect. Too much sugar can lead to an accelerated rate of a process called glycation. This is where sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins and forms harmful molecules called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs for short. 

The name is fitting because these AGEs damage collagen and elastin, the proteins that keep your skin firm and youthful. When they're damaged, your skin loses its firmness and starts to sag and wrinkle.

Then there's the issue of unhealthy fats, particularly trans fats found in many processed foods. These fats can make your skin more vulnerable to UV damage and are linked to inflammation. Chronic inflammation can speed up the aging process, leading to premature wrinkles and a loss of skin elasticity.

Salt is another culprit. Too much of it leads to water retention, which can cause your face to look puffy and swollen. It's not just about feeling bloated; this puffiness can also emphasize existing fine lines and wrinkles, making them appear more pronounced.

Don't discount the impact on your overall health too. Processed foods often lack the nutrients your skin needs to stay healthy and vibrant. When your diet is low in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it shows on your skin. Your complexion might look dull, and your skin might not be as resilient to environmental stressors like pollution and sun damage.

So, while that packaged snack might be convenient, it's not doing any favors for keeping you looking young and fresh.

Not Consuming Healthy Fats

Gone are the days when fat was considered bad. Rather, we mean the right, healthy type of fat.

Not all fats are created equal, and healthy fats are actually crucial for looking youthful.

But what does fat do anyway? They're essential for keeping your skin hydrated and plump. When your skin is well-hydrated, it looks fuller, which can help minimize out those little lines and wrinkles that give away your age.

Omega-3 fatty acids, which you find in foods like salmon, flaxseeds, and walnuts, are particular superstars for skin health. They help manage inflammation, which is important because chronic inflammation can accelerate aging and make your skin look older. They are your skin's personal anti-aging warriors, fighting off the enemies that want to age your skin prematurely.

These healthy fats also play a big role in maintaining the cell membranes throughout your body, including the cells of your skin. Strong cell membranes mean healthier, more resilient skin cells that act like a barrier, keeping the good stuff (like moisture) in and the bad stuff (like harmful toxins) out.

And let's not forget about vitamins. Many vitamins that are key for healthy skin, like Vitamins A, D, E, and K, are fat-soluble. This means they need fat to be properly absorbed by your body. Without enough healthy fats, you might not be getting the full benefit of these skin-loving vitamins, no matter how many carrots or sweet potatoes you eat.

Not getting enough healthy fats in your diet can lead to drier, more wrinkled, and less resilient skin, making you look older than you are. So, including a good balance of these fats can be a game changer for your skin, providing your skin the nourishment it needs to stay youthful and vibrant.

Poor Posture

Have you ever realized how your posture can make you look like an elderly person?

Yes, poor posture, like slouching or constantly being hunched over, sends out vibes of tiredness and lethargy. It's like you're physically showing the world that you're carrying a heavy load, both literally and figuratively. 

man with poor posture

This kind of posture can make you look worn out and, frankly, older. In contrast, standing tall with good alignment exudes energy and youthfulness. It's like saying, "Hey, I'm here, I'm confident, and I've got the energy to take on the world!"

But let’s talk about how it affects your face, because this is interesting. Constantly looking down at your devices (yep, guilty as charged) can lead to what some call "tech neck". This is where you get that saggy skin under the chin and neck because the muscles there aren't being used properly. It's a classic sign of aging, but in these highly technological and digital times, it's hitting people earlier than ever.

Then there's the whole deal with facial structure. Poor posture can actually make your jawline look less defined. If you're always slouched over, your jaw can start to jut out a bit. This throws off the balance of your facial features and can make any sagging more noticeable. Your face might be trying to compensate for the hunch in your back, and it's not a great look.

Another point to consider is how poor posture impacts your breathing. When you slouch, you can't breathe as deeply because your diaphragm is all squished up. Less oxygen can lead to less of this critical element in your skin, making it look duller and, well, older.

And don't forget, poor posture can also lead to muscle tension and pain, especially around the neck and shoulders. This constant discomfort can make you look tense and strained, adding years to your appearance.

By simply straightening up, you can help yourself look more vibrant, youthful, and full of life. Amazing to think that something as simple as that is like giving yourself an instant, natural facelift.

Not Exercising Regularly

When you're not getting enough exercise, it's not just your muscles that miss out – your skin feels the lack, too. Exercise gets your blood pumping, and this increased circulation is a big win for your skin. 

It delivers oxygen and nutrients that improve skin health and help repair damage from the sun and environmental pollutants. Without this, your skin can start to look a bit dull and lackluster.

Sweat also has a role to play. When you work out, you sweat, and sweating is kind of like a mini-facial. It helps to clear out the pores, getting rid of dirt and oils. This can prevent breakouts and give your skin a fresher, cleaner appearance. Plus, regular exercise helps to regulate hormones, which can also mean fewer breakouts and better overall skin tone.

But wait, there's more! Exercise is a fantastic stress-buster. Stress causes a chemical response in your body that makes skin more sensitive and reactive (hello, breakouts and redness). It also triggers the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, which can break down collagen and elastin in the skin. Less stress from regular exercise means less cortisol, and that means healthier, younger-looking skin.

On top of all this, regular physical activity improves your posture (we've already talked about how poor posture can make you look older), boosts your mood, and increases your overall energy levels. This can give you a more youthful, vibrant appearance. Do you know that glow people talk about after a workout? It's real.

In a nutshell, not exercising regularly can lead to poorer skin health, more stress, and a generally more aged appearance. By keeping active, you're giving your body the tools it needs to stay youthful, both inside and out.

Lack Of Stress Management Techniques

Not having stress management practices like mindfulness or yoga in your routine can be a bit of a setback for healthy aging. Think of going on a road trip without a spare tire – you might be fine, but if things go south, you'll wish you were prepared.

Stress, as we know, isn't just a feeling; it has tangible effects on our body. When we're stressed, our body releases cortisol, the stress hormone. In short bursts, cortisol is fine, but when it's constantly high, is when many of the negative effects manifest. High cortisol levels accelerate aging by affecting skin health, sleep quality, and even how our brain functions.

However, bringing in practices like mindfulness and yoga can change the status quo. They should be considered your body's natural antidote to stress. Mindfulness, which is all about being present in the moment and aware of your thoughts and surroundings, can actually change how your brain responds to stress. 

It's like rewiring your stress response system. Studies have shown that people who practice mindfulness tend to have lower cortisol levels. They're essentially training their brain to stay calm and collected in stressful situations.

Yoga, on the other hand, combines physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation. It's virtually like a full-body workout for stress relief. The physical benefits are great – increased flexibility, strength, and balance – but it's the stress-busting benefits that are a real win for aging. Yoga helps in reducing inflammation, boosting mood, and improving sleep, all of which are key factors in how our body ages. 

When you're less stressed, you sleep better, and good sleep is crucial for the body's repair processes. Plus, lower stress means less strain on your mental faculties, keeping your mind sharp.

The absence of these stress management practices means missing out on some powerful tools for healthy aging. It's about giving your body and mind a break, a chance to reset and rejuvenate.

Not Managing Comorbidities

Comorbidities, which refer to when you have two or more health conditions at the same time - can dramatically make you look older than you actually are, especially when left to run unchecked. 

If you've got multiple health issues and you're not managing them well, it can take a real toll on your body. Let's say you have something like diabetes and high blood pressure. If these aren't well-controlled, it can lead to problems with your circulation. 

man taking blood pressure measurements

Poor circulation means your skin isn't getting all the nutrients and oxygen it needs. The result? You might notice your skin looks a bit dull and lifeless, much like a corpse. It loses that healthy glow that's often associated with youth.

Then, think about conditions like arthritis or chronic pain. If they're not managed properly, they can lead to a decreased range of motion or difficulties with movement. This might cause you to adopt a more slouched or hunched posture, and as we've discussed before, poor posture can make you look older than you are. It gives off an impression of being worn down or tired, and that's definitely not the youthful look anyone is going for.

Another point is the impact on your facial features. Chronic illnesses often bring along stress, fatigue, and sometimes even depression. These can show up on your face in various ways, like deeper lines, a furrowed brow, or a generally more worn-out appearance. Your face is telling the story of the battles your body is fighting on the inside.

And we can't forget about medication side effects. Many drugs used to treat comorbidities come with their own range of side effects that can affect you. They might cause puffiness, rashes, or changes in skin texture or color, which can make you look older.

It's all interconnected – your health inside shows up on the outside. Always do your best to manage these health issues as they arise.

What You Can Do Now To Slow Unnatural Aging

  • Protect Your Skin from the Sun: One of the most crucial steps in preventing premature aging is to protect your skin from the sun. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30, wear protective clothing, and seek shade during peak sun hours. This helps prevent sun damage that can lead to wrinkles, fine lines, and age spots.
  • Maintain a Healthy Diet: Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help your body fight against oxidative stress, a major cause of aging. Antioxidant-rich foods can protect your skin and overall health, reducing signs of aging. We recommend Field Of Greens superfood powder to supplement your intake and ensure a broad variety of phytonutrients are made available to you.
  • Stay Hydrated: Keeping your body hydrated helps maintain skin moisture, which is essential for a youthful appearance. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, and consider using a hydrating moisturizer to keep your skin supple and smooth.
  • Regular Exercise: Regular physical activity improves circulation, boosts overall health, and helps manage stress – all factors that contribute to aging. Exercise also tones muscles and promotes a healthy, more youthful appearance.
  • Get Enough Sleep: Quality sleep is crucial for the body's repair processes. Lack of sleep can lead to dark circles, puffiness under the eyes, and a dull complexion. Aim for 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night to support your body's natural rejuvenation processes.

Final Words

Sometimes, these things can creep up on you and before you know it, you look and feel well past your chronological age. Aging is an inevitable process, but that doesn’t mean that you should accelerate the process. 

Take care of yourself and enjoy the ride of life.