We’ve all suffered through days of headache, fatigue and irritability after a bad night’s sleep for whatever reason. Sure, you can make up for it with a power nap or by sleeping it off the following night. But when insufficient sleep becomes the norm and you’re not getting anywhere from 7 - 9 hours of quality sleep each night, then problems start developing.
Physical, emotional and mental long-term, chronic illnesses start to take hold because of your unhealthy sleeping patterns. One of the most surprising diseases linked to insufficient sleep is obesity. Research has shown that those who habitually sleep 6 hours or less have, on average, a higher BMI (body mass index) than those who get sufficient sleep. It’s also connected with lack of exercise – because you’re too tired to move - and overeating.
The science behind this is that during sleep, our bodies secrete a number of hormones associated with appetite control, metabolism and glucose conversion. When our bodies don’t get enough sleep, an imbalance of these hormones - and others - occurs.
Two hormones crucial for suppressing and stimulating appetite, leptin and ghrelin respectively, are released either not enough or too much which may be the reason behind those cravings for sweet, sugary snacks to satisfy the need for a quick energy boost.
But the reality is, these types of snacks only give you a boost for several minutes, then quickly crash your blood sugar levels and you’re left even more deflated and fatigued than before.
Another example of a hormone directly affected by insufficient sleep is insulin which is the hormone responsible for the way glucose is transformed into energy, and weight gain. When insulin levels are not controlled as they should be, our bodies process glucose more slowly, resulting in a higher risk of type-2 diabetes.
Cortisol (the stress hormone) is also another hormone that is released in excess when you suffer from poor sleep. This results in mood swings and anxiety. High levels of stress also result in elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels, as well as an increased risk of inflammation.
This directly affects your immune system, leaving you susceptible to all kinds of illnesses, from the typical cold or flu to microbial infections to chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and strokes.
Moreover, mental disorders are brought on by poor sleep. Depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, such as memory loss and dementia, are all symptoms of insufficient sleep. Studies have shown that those who get less than 6 hours of sleep reported less sociability and confidence, and increased levels of anger, hopelessness and despair. It’s also been reported to have a negative effect on judgment and alertness.
While most of these symptoms can be eliminated once sleep patterns return to normal, the problem is in the fact that most people suffering from poor sleep fail to report it to their doctors which makes it go unnoticed and untreated for longer.
The good news is you can turn things around for the better even if you’ve suffered from poor sleep for years. Make a point of creating a peaceful, sleep-inducing environment at least half an hour before going to bed and make it a nightly habit.
Soon enough, you’ll start going to bed when you’re tired and you’ll be able to wake up fresh and relaxed without the need of an incessant alarm clock going off for an hour before you’re finally able to get up. While it may take you several weeks, it’ll be worth it once you start feeling the positive effects a good night’s sleep can have on your health.
SENESCENCE or biological aging is the gradual deterioration of functional characteristics. The word senescence can refer either to cellular aging or to deterioration of the whole organism.
FACT: we all get older every single day and each person’s aging process will look different.
But, despite Wikipedia’s definition of “biological aging”, don’t you think it’s about time that we embrace it, rather than fearing it, and spending gobs of money trying to turn back the hands of time?
That said, if you’re motivated to live a full and healthy life as you age, then you might have to make some adjustments to your personal aging process, so you can spend more quality time doing the things you love.
Here are 10 simple anti-aging “hacks” you can start trying to give yourself an edge over senescence!
Try as many of them as you can on a daily basis - and some of them, you might just NEED to do no matter what - like number 8!
Try these 10 Anti-aging Health Hacks...for free
1. Drink more water and stay hydrated
Increasing water intake and being adequately hydrated is a no-brainer for both inner and outer beauty - from your cells to your skin! This includes consuming foods that have a naturally high water content.
Did you know? Each bite of watermelon contains 92% water!
2. Eat more whole, nutrient-dense foods rich in vitamins, minerals & Omega 3’s
Fruits and veggies like cucumber, watermelon, tomato, avocados, ginger, berries (especially blueberries), pomegranate, dark green leafy veggies, garlic and Omega 3 fatty acid-rich foods like cold water fatty fish, walnuts and hemp seeds.
3. Drink less alcohol - or none at all :
4. Move your body, and break a sweat daily.
Did you know? Regular exercise has quite a potent anti-aging effect - and best of all, to help slow down the aging process, it doesn’t matter how much you exercise or what type you choose - just so long as you move your body regularly!
On the other hand, a sedentary lifestyle speeds up the aging process and makes you more susceptible to age-related health issues down the road.
5. Rest more, and get adequate restorative sleep.
Lack of sleep can really take a toll on your entire body. We’re not just talking dark circles either - although those are still a good reason to catch enough zzz’s!
Shut the laptop (and other devices) and get into bed, preferably by 10pm every night.
6. Manage your stress.
Too much stress can have significant negative effects on your body, and grossly accelerate the aging process. Be sure to find more ways to manage your stress on a daily basis so it doesn’t take over!
7. Avoid excessive sun exposure
A little natural sun exposure each day is fine (hellooo Vitamin D!), but excessive exposure is detrimental and undoubtedly ages the skin.
Did you know? Vitamin D plays a critical role in several biological processes - skin health included, promoting a youthful skin appearance. Higher Vitamin D levels are associated with healthy aging.
8. Do NOT smoke. Ever.
‘Nuff said about that too.
And here’s two you probably weren’t expecting to be on the list…
9. Laugh more.
Laughter truly IS the best medicine.
10. Get outside and take in nature.
The outdoors and being in natural surroundings can be their own kind of therapy and should be part of any healthy anti-aging routine.
Obviously there’s nothing that completely halts senescence or the biological aging process, but these simple anti-aging hacks may help you slow it down - even if it’s just a little bit.
More importantly, they may help you look and feel better RIGHT NOW, while promoting an overall healthier, and more energetic lifestyle!
Anti-aging Superfood Slaw
Makes about 2 cups = 4 side portions.
Assemble all fruits, veggies, seeds and herbs in a medium bowl, and gently toss.
Drizzle oil, add salt & pepper (if using), and gently toss one more time, being careful not to bruise fruit.
Salad does not keep well - enjoy as soon as possible.
A food preservative is a substance added to foods to make them last longer; to "preserve" them. Preservatives are added to foods that go bad quickly and have found themselves in all kinds of products in our grocery stores.
Preservatives work to preserve food in a few different ways. Some prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Others prevent delicate fats from going rancid.
There are so many preservatives out there. While preservatives added to foods should be “approved,” this doesn’t mean they’re guaranteed to be safe for everyone always. And it doesn’t mean that the food is healthy.
Foods with preservatives are more-processed, less-nutritious foods to begin with - not exactly health foods. So, even if you don’t mind preservatives, you probably should cut down on these kinds of foods, anyway.
So, let’s learn more about a few common food preservatives.
That’s right - salt.
FUN FACT: The term “salary” is from the Latin word for salt. It’s thought that it came from the ancient Romans who would pay employees, allowing them to buy salt. Either that, or it was for their work conquering and/or guarding salt mines/roads. Either way, salt was sought because of its ability to preserve food before the advent of refrigeration.
In today’s day and age, with fridges and freezers in every home and grocery store, and refrigerated trucks, salt is not needed for food preservation as much. But our taste buds still seem to crave it on an epic scale. The average American eats over 3,400 mg of sodium per day, well over the recommended 2,300 mg/day. Much of that is because it’s found in processed foods.
According to Harvard Health:
"... reducing dietary salt (table salt that is only sodium, chloride and iodine) will lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke, and save lives."
So, salt is one of those all-too-common food preservatives that most of us will do better with less of.
Nitrites (nitrates and nitrosamines)
Nitrites are preservatives added to processed meats. They're not bad in and of themselves, but they do turn into harmful chemicals called nitrosamines. Nitrosamines are carcinogens found in cigarette smoke. Nitrites form nitrosamines when they're cooked at high heat, and sometimes even when exposed to the high acid environment of the stomach.
Nitrites are added to meats to keep the pink-red color and prevent “browning.” Mostly in bacon, ham, sausages and lunch meats. Since nitrites can change into nitrosamines, nitrites are one-step away from being the “bad guys.”
Another interesting thing is that processed meats have been linked with colon cancer. Because of the nitrites? Perhaps, but either way, nitrosamines are a confirmed health-buster.
Since nitrosamines (from nitrites) are the bad guys and are formed by cooking nitrites at high heat, what are nitrates?
Nitrates are naturally found in many healthy foods like vegetables. They’re especially high in beets. Sometimes our enzymes or gut bacteria change these healthy nitrates into nitrites. However, they rarely form nitrosamines because they’re two-steps away from becoming these “bad guys.”
BHA & BHT
Have you seen on packages “BHA/BHT has been added to the package to help maintain freshness?” Perhaps on cereal packages or in gum? Guess how these compounds maintain freshness? Because they’re preservatives.
BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are antioxidants added to many processed foods. The main way BHA and BHT work is by preventing fats from going rancid. Are they safe? Well, they're approved for use as a preservative at small doses. However, some studies show they can cause cancer in animals at high doses. Again, they're added to processed pre-packaged foods, so it's wise to avoid them nonetheless.
CaramelCaramel is the coloring agent found mostly in brown colored foods, beverages, bread, frozen pizza and candies, causes vitamin B6 deficiencies, genetic effects and cancer. It is added to help with food color degeneration during the processing.
Unlike the caramel you could make at home by melting sugar, this artificial caramel coloring is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures.
There are a lot of other preservatives in our food supply. These compounds work by preventing the growth of bacteria and mold, or by preventing fats from going rancid. And they're mostly found in processed foods. If you want to avoid them. Eat fresh foods.
Does this information make you want to read all your food ingredient labels now? Let me know in the comments below.