Maybe you remember when the floppy disk was the holder of all things important, or you still can’t believe that Karate Kid actor Ralph Macchio is just as old today as Mr. Miyagi was when the first film came out. Perhaps, you still don’t know either of these references. Whatever your age, there are some things that can make you feel old before your time. Corey B. Schuler, a certified and registered nutrition practitioner, says that when it comes to younger men, there’s more to feeling and looking old. Underlying causes like stress, too much sugar in the diet, sun exposure—and even listening to loud music—are some of the real culprits making you look and feel older than your actual age.
Failure to adapt to the stresses of modern life can accelerate the aging process, contribute to blood sugar issues, weight gain, aches, a plunge in energy or disinterest in sex. “Whenever I ask a man if he's stressed, he generally tells me something like ‘not any more than normal,’” says Schuler. “Well, here's the secret: Most men he's comparing himself to or his own situation is probably not normal physiologically.” Stress also causes aging at the cellular level, he says, because the "machinery" of cell function and replication slow down and malfunction.
Shots of sugar sap the life out of you
Not only is eating too much sugar bad for your waistline, but too much of the sweet stuff can lead to heart disease, diabetes, and is up there with smoke and excess sun exposure as a major causes of wrinkles. Collagen and elastin, the protein fibers that keep skin firm and elastic, can also become damaged with high sugar diet. To get back on a low-sugar track, Schuler recommends being diligent about food choices by eating minimal processed foods with more refined sugars.
Forgetting the healthy fats
If you’re working on getting leaner, don’t cut out good, healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids. Lack of these nutrients can negatively impact the speed (and how) you age. To keep feeling and looking younger, incorporate more oily fish, walnuts, and flax seeds into your diet, which also help the skin stay supple and wrinkle-free. Omega-3s also help boost brain health and keep the heart in good shape.
You don't stretch
You’re too young to wake up with sore muscles and other aches and pains. As we age, we lose flexibility, and stiffness sets in as muscles lose the full range of motion. This stiffening of the muscles can also lead to injury when working out. To make sure you’re still able to reach your full range at any age, try incorporating some yoga moves into your warmup regimen. A little limber goes a long way.
Too much sun
Lather on the sunscreen all the time. Failing to protect skin from ultraviolet radiation and burning over time can alter your DNA and eventually cause skin cancer. Adults over the age of 40, particularly men, have the highest annual exposure to UV, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. In addition to being a cause of skin cancer over time, excess exposure to rays will loosen the elastin in your skin, leaving more fine lines visible. If you can avoid being outdoors when the sun’s rays are most powerful (between 10 a.m. through 4 p.m.), do it. If not, cover up with SPF (nothing lower than 30) and reapply every hour if you’re spending time outside.