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May 01, 2021

The pandemic is making you age faster: Here's what you can do to slow it down

Prevention Aging
Aging Pandemic

Scientists say the pandemic is making us age faster due to increased stress, sleep deprevation, poor diet and lack of exercise.

Researchers have found yet another way the pandemic has impacted our overall health: stress aging. 

Things like losing sleep, weight gain, poor stress management and an unhealthy diet can contribute to aging — all of which have been increased due to the pandemic. 

Dr. Whitney Bowe, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Medical Center told CNN stress aging is a biological mechanism. 

Dermatologists are saying more patients are coming in to fix the effects of the stress aging, and others are experiencing conditions like eczema, hair loss and acne from stress over 2020.

Increased stress can disrupt sleep schedules and our ability to stay asleep, scientists say. A 2010 study showed that people who experienced sleep deprivation had swollen eyelids, dark under-eye circles and looked like they had more wrinkles on their skin.

Increased stress floods the body with high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which inhibits collagen and hyaluronic acid production in the skin. 

"Collagen is the scaffold of the skin that prevents fine lines and wrinkles, and hyaluronic acid keeps the skin plump, so the loss of these can really impact your looks," Bowe said. Stress also can cause dry skin and wrinkles. 

What you can do

While it might be tempting to lather on anti-aging products and brightening serums every day, Bowe said it's better to use products every few days so you don't dry out your skin.

Use products like glycerin, sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil or squalene, on your off days to hydrate the skin.

The best way to stop your skin from aging more is managing your stress, experts say, as well as nixing poor eating habits, sleep deprivation or lack of exercise.

Sugar intake specifically can wreak havoc on the skin, damaging the skin's collagen over time and making it more likely to wrinkle.

Sugar, processed carbs and high-fructose corn syrup can make your skin wrinkle 10 times faster, according to studies.

Scientists say exercise can increase blood circulation to the mood and stress response parts of the brain, and can release endorphins, the body's feel-good hormone. It also brings oxygenated blood to your skin which can help fight aging. 

Running, swimming, cycling and walking are great ways to get your blood pumping. Exercising three times a week for 15 to 30 minutes can have great results, scientists say.

Sleep is essential for all body functions, but while you sleep, your skin gets regenerated. There's a growth hormone that releases during sleep that stimulates fresh skin cell growth.

Doing yoga, meditation and deep breathing can help calm your stress levels.

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