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Sadly, we can’t slow down time, but experts say we can slow down its effects on us. The key is to make healthier choices in the areas we can control and start letting go of bad habits. Dr. Brett Osborn, a longevity expert and neurologist, told Fox News Digital that one of the main hallmarks of aging is amassed cellular damage that leads to organ decay and, ultimately, death.

He added that the key to remaining healthy is decreasing cellular damage by not throwing accelerants on the fire, which is sadly what most Americans do. Dr. Osborn and other doctors shared the most common unhealthy behaviors that speed up the aging process and how to avoid them.


Smoking has been proven to curtail life expectancy. Researchers from Action on Smoking and Health in the United Kingdom have reported that a 30-year-old smoker can live for about 35 more years, compared to 53 years for a non-smoker. According to Dr. Dawn Ericsson, an obstetrician/gynecologist from Tampa, Florida, smoking speeds up the aging process by exposing you to harmful chemicals, reducing oxygen supply, increasing oxidative stress, and breaking down collagen. Dr. Osborn added that tobacco’s harmful effects extend beyond lung health by accelerating skin aging and enhancing the risk of tooth loss and gum diseases.

Smoking introduces toxins that damage skin elasticity and collagen production, which leads to wrinkles. Free radicals in smoke damage lung tissue, inducing cancer and the walls of your blood vessels. The prevalence of stroke, heart attack and brain aneurysms is significantly higher in smokers in comparison to non-smokers. Experts agreed that the quickest fix is to stop smoking immediately. To increase the chance of success in quitting, Ericsson suggested setting a “quit date,” seeking support from friends and family, avoiding triggers, and seeking guidance from healthcare providers. Some people also get results with nicotine replacement medications or therapy like varenicline and bupropion.

Excessive Sun Exposure

Ericsson noted that excessive sun exposure can lead to aging by damaging the skin’s DNA, causing sagging skin, wrinkles, and dark spots. Osborn agreed and also warned of an increased risk of skin cancer as melanoma and basal cell carcinoma, the former of which can be fatal. Osborn advised regularly using sunscreen with a high SPF, avoiding sun exposure during apex hours, and wearing defensive clothing. According to Ericsson, other protective strategies include sunglasses, covering up with hats and protective clothing and seeking shade during the sun’s most robust hours. Using antioxidants like vitamins E and C and staying hydrated can also help shelter the skin.

Poor Diet

Experts agree that a nutrient-deficient diet can also accelerate aging. Ericsson warned that a diet high in sugars, processed foods, and unhealthy fats can damage collagen, cause inflammation, and accelerate skin aging. These diets can also cause free radical damage. Osborn warned that the pre-diabetic or induced insulin-resistant state puts you one step closer to the feared metabolic syndrome, a gateway to diseases like cancer, coronary artery disease, and Alzheimer’s. To reduce aging, experts recommend eating a balanced diet filled with low-glycemic index vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and anti-inflammatory fats like omega-9 and omega-3.

According to Ericsson, antioxidants in these foods fight free radical damage, as do antioxidant supplements like green tea, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids. Other tips include pre-planning snacks and meals, with a focus on unprocessed, whole foods to avoid impulsive unhealthy choices. Controlling portions, cooking at home, and staying hydrated are also good ways to improve nutrition intake.

Not Exercising

Not exercising enough contributes to aging by causing bone density reduction, muscle loss, weight gain, and cardiovascular issues. Ericsson advised that regular physical activity is necessary for maintaining muscle mass, cognitive health, and circulation as we age. Osborn also advocates for staying active, noting that our bodies are meant to exercise. It turns over 100 genes correlated with longevity, so we shouldn’t skip it because it benefits the mind and body. Regular physical activity, specifically strength training, is critical to your health, according to Osborn. He said it means you have to breathe hard and lift weights during your workouts.

On off days, he suggested doing 45 minutes of lighter endurance training like jogging, walking, swimming, or rowing, which will improve your cardiovascular fitness while letting you recover from heavy bouts of strength training. Ericsson said to sustain a long-term exercise routine, it’s essential to find activities you enjoy, stay flexible, set realistic goals, and listen to your body.

Excessive Drinking

Osborn said that alcohol dehydrates your skin, leading to cognitive impairment and liver damage. He said it also causes issues with blood sugar regulation and is associated with obesity. As alcohol is a cellular toxin, it speeds up the aging process. Ericsson agreed that excessive alcohol consumption speeds up aging by causing nutrient depletion, dehydration, liver damage, inflammation, and collagen breakdown. Ericsson said chronic drinking can damage your liver, dehydrate your skin, and increase the risk of cognitive decline. Experts agreed that, as with smoking, the fix is to stop drinking alcohol.

Osborn advised that you shouldn’t quit cold turkey but try to stop habitual drinking within the next six to 12 months. He said you’ll feel better in the long run and save a lot of money. Other tips to stop drinking include staying busy with healthy activities, avoiding triggers, and seeking professional health if necessary.

Chronic Stress

Some degree of stress is healthy and normal, but chronic high-stress levels can shorten telomeres, which are DNA protein structures that play a critical role in cell fate and age by adjusting the cellular response to stress and growth stimulation on the premise of previous cell divisions and DNA damage, according to the National Institutes of Health. Chronic stress can also exacerbate skin conditions and impact mental health, which accelerates aging.

Growing old is a natural part of life. However, there are some adverse things you can do to speed up the aging process. By following these tips, you’ll slow down the aging process and live a long, healthy life.

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