Can “healthy” habits cause premature aging? It doesn’t make sense, but according to a recent AARP article, there are 6 such habits. Of course, I had to investigate, since some of these habits are nutrition/food-related.
- Daily walking. How can that lead to premature aging? It doesn’t. The explanation is that you should include other physical activity in your routines. Strength training, mobility exercises, other activities like swimming or sports. No argument there. It doesn’t mean walking isn’t a good choice. For some people it may be the main (or only) choice due to lifestyle or accessibility issues. The real culprit for premature aging is a sedentary lifestyle, not daily walking.
- Reliance on supportive shoes. The link between your shoes and premature aging seems a bit of a stretch. The claim is that dependence on these sort of shoes makes you more prone to balance issues. Hmmm. If true, you might be more prone to falling, not premature aging. Although I suppose you could spin that scenario into disaster, if falling results in a broken hip and you are then permanently bed ridden, which can lead to premature aging.
- Drinking water when thirsty. The point is that as we age, sense of thirst deteriorates. You may already be significantly dehydrated when you finally feel thirsty. Solution: drink water on a regular schedule regardless of thirst. I’ve written about this before. It’s a valid point, although anyone with heart or kidney disease needs to check with a physician about fluid restrictions. Can chronic dehydration cause premature aging? Perhaps. It can also cause more immediate problems, like fatigue or dizziness.
- Sun avoidance. We live indoor lives. Even when we do venture outdoors, we cover up with clothes, hats, dark glasses and sun screen, thanks to dire warnings about skin cancer. But cancer or skin wrinkling isn’t the topic here, even though sun damaged skin might make you look aged. It’s the effect of light waves on circadian rhythm. Morning sunlight is energizing; evening light waves are calming and sleep-promoting. Unfortunately, light from cell phone screens is more like morning light, which can disrupt your sleep cycle if you are staring at a phone or tablet in the evening. Premature aging? Well, if disruption of circadian rhythm is linked to aging, then perhaps. I’m not sure there’s any data to back up that claim. Strangely, there’s no mention of the link between sunlight and vitamin D production. All this sun avoidance decreases natural vitamin D production in skin cells, and vitamin D deficit can definitely lead to health problems and possibly premature aging.
- Eating nutrition bars. First off, the whole idea of a “nutrition” bar is ridiculous. It implies that all the nutrients in all the other food you eat don’t count for nutrition; that you get “nutrition” from a highly processed bar. In my opinion, they’re a complete waste of money. Just eat real food. Do they cause premature aging? Not likely, although they might contribute to excess calories.
- Egg avoidance. This is another topic I’ve written about. Back in the middle of the 20th century, the tenuous connection between food cholesterol and heart attacks put eggs (and shrimp!) on the Food Police Hit List. Decades later, despite research showing that this is a pointless fear, plenty of people are still terrified of eggs, particularly egg yolks. Meanwhile many of the nutrients unique to egg yolks have been linked to eye health and other benefits. Will egg avoidance lead to premature aging? Well, it certainly can affect eye health.
I wouldn’t blame any of these health habits for premature aging. I can sum up my opinion like this:
Walking is good. Drinking water is good. Sun avoidance is problematic; be sure to check your vitamin D; don’t stare at your cell phone all evening. Nutrition bars are a waste of money. Egg avoidance is misguided. As for those supportive shoes, no official opinion.