We’ve all known (and maybe secretly hated) at least one person who was lucky enough to lead a lifetime of totally carefree living while never seeming to age. Whether it was drinking, smoking, or being able to eat whatever they wanted without gaining a pound, these people seem to defy the laws of physics and remain youthful looking. It’s just another reminder that while life is good, it isn’t necessarily fair. Because for most of us that do abuse our bodies with years of partying hard and living fast, Father Time will not be so kind, and things will mostly like play out like the once hot girl in high school who now looks like she’s 40 when she’s actually only 25.
Bottom line: Your diet − not your age− is a more significant factor in determining how quickly you begin to see and feel the effects of aging. Every day, every minute actually, your body is destroying, repairing and generating new cells. And how well your body repairs and renovates itself is determined by the building blocks you give it. Give the body quality food, and you’ll get quality repair. Give the body junk food, and you’ll get a crappy repair job. Everything from the suppleness of your skin, to the strength of your bones and joints, is determined in large part by what you eat. Moreover, foods that have no nutritional value can actually speed up aging. So it’s like taking a sledgehammer to the face every time you eat a donut. Yeah, that’s a bit extreme of an analogy. But you get my drift. And overall, the real problem begins when occasional dietary lapses become daily habits. That’s when poor eating habits can start to subtract years from your life and add years to your appearance. Now here’s the good news. By reining in the following 4 bad food habits you can essentially kill two birds with one stone: You’ll slim down and get in shape, and you’ll stay smoking’ hot well into your golden years.
Bad Habit #1: Too much fast food
The bad guy here is trans fat, which is actually a manmade type of fat that causes chronic inflammation in the body, and ultimately effects what controls the aging process itself− our chromosomes, or DNA. Basically, the inflammation caused by trans fat works to breakdown our chromosomes, and when chromosomes degrade, your body’s ability to regenerate itself becomes severely compromised. Trans fat is a really nasty thing, and for those of you who love fast food, there’s a very high chance that you’re consuming trans fat. And though many fast food chains are now scrambling to nix trans fat from food preparation, not all have managed to total get it out of their kitchens.
The Fix: The best course of action to avoid trans fat is to either avoid fried fast food, or ask restaurants if they use trans fat when you do eat out. Also, when grocery shopping, always read product label ingredients closely for “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oils, which are trans fats.
Bad Habit #2: Too many refined carbs and sugar
When I say refined carbs, I’m talking about foods like bread, bagels, pasta, white rice, pastries, cakes, cookies, crackers, chips, and even cereal. These types of foods contain refined carbohydrates that are rapidly broken digested into sugar. This then causes your blood sugar levels to soar, and elevated blood sugar signals the pancreas to release a ton of insulin to help process this sugar. Problem is, your body’s cells will eventually become insulin resistant after months or years of chronically high blood sugar and insulin bombardment. Medically speaking, this condition is what we call type 2 diabetes, and once insulin isn’t around to help process sugar, it will end up lingering in your blood stream and cause glycosylation – a process that rapidly ages cells all over your body, ultimately leading to things like chronic fatigue, premature wrinkles and cataracts.
The Fix: Eat a “clean” diet consisting of mostly whole foods like lots of low glycemic produce, organic dairy, grass-fed or organic meats, and minimal amounts of processed carbs and sweets. Also, when you do eat something sweet, go for foods with natural sweeteners like coconut sugar, molasses, honey, maple syrup and stevia.
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Bad Habit #3: Emotional Eating
Eating while you’re stressed in any way is just a disaster waiting to happen because when stressed out, it’s just natural that you’re going to eat more than you normally would. In addition, when we’re stressed most of us don’t think, “Hmm, I could really go for some grilled chicken and side of steamed veggies.” Yeah right! What we tend think is “I want some cheese fries, chicken wings and a large diet Coke.” Basically foods that are all high in refined carbs and sugar. And why do you crave these types of foods when stressed? Because these types of foods cause a rapid rise in blood sugar and give our bodies an immediate “high” or feeling of pleasure. Problem is, you’ve gotten your high, but you’ve also now created the same issues I discussed in Bad Habits #1 and #2.
The Fix: Don’t use food to soothe your emotions, and avoid eating when stressed or on the run. Also, at mealtime be sure to sit down, relax, and eat slowly.
Bad Habit #4: Eating too little fat
When most people diet they’ll drastically cut calories by primarily removing fat from their diet. They’ll opt for things like fat-free foods and low-fat foods, which coincidentally tend to also be high in sugar. That’s issue number one. Issue number two is that a diet that’s too low in fat can cause other problems because key nutrients that keep us looking youthful− like vitamins A, D, and E− all require an ample amount of fat in our diets in order to be absorbed and processed by the body. So ultimately, but drastically cutting fat consumption, you can end up compromising vitamin absorption, looking aged, and also having issues like dry skin, dry hair, hair loss, and brittle nails.
The Fix: Eat a balanced diet with an ample amount of healthy fat from foods like nuts, coconut oil, fish oil, and organic meats. Also be sure to take a daily multivitamin− especially when cutting calories and dieting.
Are you guilty of any of the above bad food habits? − Doc
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