Mistakes That Age You

Mistakes That Age You

I’m not quite 30, and people often tell me I look younger than my age. And why not? I’m a road-running regular who laces up four times a week. I try to eat right—quinoa instead of white rice, not much red meat—and I juice like crazy. I wear sunscreen and moisturize daily … and did I mention that I’m not yet 30? But I recently took the Mistakes That Age You quiz, and now I realize that I’m on a fast track to crow’s feet, sagging skin and other dismal changes unless I straighten up. Here are some of the bad moves I’ve been making—and what I’m going to do to stay younger longer.

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Mistake #1: Texting too much
I may not spend hours a day texting like my teenage sister and her latest crush, but I do communicate with my thumbs every day. Texting is a quick and easy way to connect, but all that time spent leaning forward and looking down is turning me into the next hunchback of Notre Dame. It’s not just a matter of bad posture, either. Neck pain from cell phone use is so common a chiropractor dubbed the condition “text neck.” The solution? Sit upright and hold your phone in front of your face while texting.

Mistake #2: Turning up the heat
I’m a Southern California girl and I don’t like the cold, so whenever the temperature takes a dip, I head straight for the thermostat. People who live in the rest of the country (the parts that get a real winter) crank the heat up even higher and longer, of course. But we all need to learn to layer up instead—our skin will thank us. Heaters pull moisture out of the air, and that leaves skin parched, cracked and prone to wrinkles. In addition to reducing the heat, says Mehmet Oz, MD, we should be sure to use a moisturizer daily. Still feeling dried out and chapped? Dr. Oz suggests getting a humidifier.

Mistake #3: Feeding my sweet tooth
No matter how hard I try, I can’t pass up a bowl of ice cream or a slice of cake. Unfortunately, all those sweets are setting me up for premature wrinkles. When sugars break down in the body, they form compounds called advanced glycation end products, which are called AGEs (what else?). Too many of these bad boys can disrupt the production of collagen, which you need for firm skin. In fact. Joel Fuhrmann, MD, says the secret to aging more slowly is to prevent your body from accumulating AGEs. How? Skip sweets in favor of fresh fruits. Cooking over low, moist heat can also limit AGEs, so boiling, poaching, steaming and stewing foods are all great options.

Mistake #4: Missing out on the sunshine vitamin
I live in sunny San Diego, but chances are I’m still deficient in vitamin D because, like many people, I spend much of the day in an office. That’s too bad, because research strongly suggests that vitamin D keeps bones strong, boosts brainpower and protects against countless diseases. Your skin produces vitamin D in response to sunlight, and you can get plenty from just 20 minutes of sun in the summer months. During the winter, though, the sun’s rays are too weak to do the trick, so you need to make sure you get enough through food and supplements—you need a total of 1,000 international units of vitamin D daily up to age 60 and 1,200 IU after that, say doctors Oz and Michael Roizen. Good food sources include fatty fish such as swordfish and salmon. Not a fan of fish? Drink up. Orange juice and milk have 100 IU per cup.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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