Special Report

Drinking Through a Straw and Other Mistakes That Are Aging You

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Aging, the inevitable and most natural body process, is probably among the most feared. Growing old seems scary when you read about how biologists define it: “age-dependent or age-progressive decline in intrinsic physiological function, leading to an increase in age-specific mortality rate.” And some seemingly small daily habits only speed up the process.

There is no magic formula for looking younger than you really are, it’s just hard. Sleeping well, eating healthy foods, and exercising more are all important, but can seen mutually exclusive in today’s busy and often chaotic environment.

Unfortunately, the signs of how you treat your body show on your skin. The main reasons why fine lines and wrinkles appear on your face have been known for years — smoking (which also causes wrinkles all over your body), the sun’s ultraviolet rays, stress, and, of course, aging.

Genes are a factor, but there is nothing you can do about that. Certain habits can make it look like you skipped through time.

To determine 20 daily habits that are making people look older prematurely, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed dozens of studies, medical journals (including the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health), and reports by various medical schools and associations focusing on skin health, including the American Academy of Dermatology and the International Dermal Institute.

Click here to read about 20 mistakes you make every day that are aging you.

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1. Drinking through a straw

Repetitive facial movements are the culprit here. Regularly pursing your lips may cause the skin to lose elasticity more quickly, leading to premature lines and wrinkles around the mouth. Drinking from a bottle has a similar effect. To be on the safe side, just pour water into a cup and drink it that way.


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2. Drinking anything but water

Wrinkles can occur as a result of dehydration. Loss of collagen and elasticity, which leads to sagging skin, as well as loss of hyaluronic acid, a natural substance that is often used as lip filler in plastic surgery, hurt the skin’s ability to retain water. This makes fine lines and scales even more apparent. Sugary beverages, such as sodas, fruit juices, and sports drinks can accelerate cell aging.

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3. Enjoying Happy Hour too much

A study of more than 11,000 people showed a correlation between high alcohol consumption and visible signs of premature aging. More specifically, drinking too much increases the risk of developing arcus corneae (a white or gray half-circle on your eye) and earlobe crease (a line or a wrinkle in the middle of the earlobe). Alcohol also causes dehydration, which is a major contributor to premature aging.

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4. Always having dessert

Sugar can have a detrimental effect on the skin. It damages collagen fibers and makes it harder for them to heal. Glucose and fructose connect the amino acids in the collagen and elastin that support the skin, producing advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which contribute to increased oxidant stress and inflammation. Both of them are huge factors in skin aging.


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5. Cranking up the heat at home

Increasing a room’s temperature dries the air by sucking out the moisture. Over time, this can lead to dry and itchy skin. A study suggests that even a 30% difference in relative humidity can affect skin properties in a short time. There was a significant decrease in skin elasticity and significant increases in wrinkles after exposure to dry air. Bedroom temperatures should be between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Sleep Foundation; the World Health Organization recommends a temperature of 69.8 degrees Fahrenheit for the living room and 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit for other occupied rooms.

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6. Sleeping on your stomach or side

Sleep is the time when the body rests and rejuvenates, but it can also make you look older if you sleep on your side or stomach, according to research published in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal. Facial aging, or sleep wrinkles, develop over time due to sleep positions. The skin on your face is subject to shear and compression. As a result it stretches in all directions, leading to stiffness and loss of elasticity over time.


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7. Not getting enough sleep

How you sleep is not the only factor contributing to premature aging. Insufficient shuteye can cause just as much damage to your skin. Research by University Hospitals Case Medical Center found that poor sleepers showed more signs of skin aging. Also, skin that was already damaged by stressors such as ultraviolet lights recovered at a slower pace in poor sleepers. Another study, by the University of California Los Angeles, suggested that just one night of insufficient sleep makes body cells in older adults, both men and women, age faster.

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8. Eating too much junk food

If you think you look older than your age, the reason is could be your diet. The worse the foods you put in your body, the worse you will feel. Junk food can have a lot of trans fats, salt, and sugar, and very little, if any, nutritional benefits. It lacks vitamins and minerals the body and the skin need to stay healthy. It also damages collagen, which helps prevent wrinkles. Unhealthy dietary habits lead to the production of free radicals in the body that accelerate aging. Fruits and vegetables are a much better option.

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9. Having too much screen time

The blue light emitted by your laptop, phone, or TV is not only preventing you from falling asleep, it may also be damaging your skin. This high-energy visible light may cause a lot of skin damage, according to some research. It decreases carotenoids in the skin, leading to an increase of free radicals and degradation of the epidermal antioxidants. Long exposure to blue light may speed up the oxidation process, causing inflammation and damaging the skin, making it prone to lines and wrinkles.


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10. Slouching

Poor posture contributes to accelerated wear and tear on the joints and muscle strain, resulting in back pain. Slouching can also contribute to the so-called “tech neck,” which has been linked to wrinkles around the neck and chin due to the constant downward gaze. Slouching alters the spine’s natural alignment, putting pressure on muscles and bones, possibly causing permanent deformity.

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11. Rubbing your eyes

As is the case with most habits, a problem occurs when it’s chronic. The issue with rubbing your eyes all the time is the sensitivity of the skin around them. It’s one of the places where aging signs first appear. The pressure applied to the skin can break small blood vessels, leading to the formation of dark circles and drooping eyelids.


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12. Holding on to grudges

Being in a chronic unforgiving mood causes the body to release more cortisol, also known as the “stress hormone,” while diminishing levels of oxytocin, also known as “the love hormone.” Too much cortisol over a long period of time has been linked to depression, which has been shown to weaken collagen.

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13. Washing your face too often

Washing your face with lukewarm water in the morning and at night (and after sweating) is enough, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Harsh soaps, as well as hot water, only dry the skin. Washing your face often, or taking a bath or showering often or for too long, will dry the skin by removing natural oils, making it itchy and prone to breakouts.

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14. Not removing your makeup before bed

Going to bed with makeup on can wreak havoc on your skin overnight. The skin is basically blocked and can’t breathe because the pores are clogged. The skin cannot recover from all the oxidative stress, including from air pollution, accumulated during the day. The resulting free radicals damage the skin’s collagen, causing wrinkles over time.


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15. Not wearing sunglasses

Like drinking through a straw, not wearing sunglasses when the sun is out causes repetitive facial motions that can eventually lead to fine lines. Squinting basically means the skin cells are squeezed thousands of times from all the facial muscles moving. This leads to loosening of the skin, and eventually to wrinkles in the corners of your eyes.

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16. Sitting all day

The benefits of regular exercise don’t stop at weight control and higher levels of happiness. You may be able to slow down the skin’s natural aging process by working out a few times a week. Research has found that the muscles of older people who have exercised for years are very similar to those of healthy young adults. Exercising has made them biologically about 30 years younger.


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17. Applying sunscreen only when the sun is out

Sunscreen is not only for summertime at the beach. The sun’s harmful rays can penetrate the clouds and windows to get to your skin, causing wrinkles, spotting and loss of elasticity. A study compared more than 900 people who applied sunscreen every day with others who did so only once in a while. The former showed no visible signs of photoaging after 4.5 years, and 24% less skin aging.

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18. Avoiding fatty foods

Not all fat is created equal, and the body needs the healthy kind, as its name — essential fatty acids — suggests. You can only get these from foods such as fish, nuts, avocado, eggs, chia seeds, olive oil, and some fortified foods. Omega-3s and omega-6s are essential for building healthy cells. They help produce the skin’s natural oil, which keeps it hydrated and glowing.

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19. Crash dieting

Extreme limited-nutrition diets do more harm than good, While some weight loss may be a desired result, it comes at a steep price, including dehydration, malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, and muscle loss. When basic nutritional requirements are not met, the first organ to suffer is the skin. Vitamins and minerals have antioxidant properties, helping the skin stay healthy and youthful.


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20. Multitasking

Although it seems to be a desirable characteristic when looking for a job, multitasking can hinder productivity and increase stress and fatigue. Research has shown that chronic stress shortens DNA telomeres, causing premature cellular aging. How exactly chronic stress damages the skin is not clear, but higher cortisol levels and cell changes are possible reasons.

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