Aging is an unavoidable part of life, but looking or feeling old doesn’t have to be. A lot of the symptoms that we consider an inevitable part of the aging process are actually symptoms of other factors that are entirely within our control. Symptoms like loss of energy, wrinkles, a dull complexion, or weight gain may stem more from lifestyle factors than from your actual age. To continue looking and feeling your best well into your senior years, take a look at the following lifestyle factors that contribute to premature aging, and see if you need to adjust any of your habits.

1. Smoking and drinking

We all know that smoking and excessive drinking aren’t good for us. Not only are they dangerous to your health, they can also cause you to look much older than you are by damaging your skin. Smoking causes lines around the mouth and deeper forehead wrinkles, and can also damage teeth. Excessive drinking can lead to discoloration of facial skin, broken blood vessels, and spider veins. If you smoke, stop! To keep skin looking young, drink plenty of water and cut back on sugar, which attaches to collagen in the skin, causing it to become rigid and dry.

2. Poor nutrition

The importance of a proper diet cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to aging. In addition to the damaging effects of sugar, eating a diet high in refined carbohydrates and dairy can cause inflammation in the body, which contributes to the aging process. Eat a primarily plant-based diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables. Berries, tomatoes, broccoli, green tea, and nuts are especially good at fighting aging. Even dark chocolate and red wine have anti-aging benefits — just don’t overdo it.

3. Being overweight

People who are overweight tend to be less active, which in turn leads to further health problems and accelerates the aging process. Eating a diet that is tailored to your individual genetics can help you lose weight more effectively and combat many of the symptoms associated with excess weight, including low energy, high blood pressure, and the risk of other health conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

4. Having a poor attitude

Your outlook on life has a tremendous effect on your health and your longevity. Research conducted on inhabitants of Blue Zones — areas of the world where people live longer, healthier, and happier lives — has found that having a life purpose and a sense of community are important factors in increased longevity and vitality. Happier people also tend to be healthier, and have a reduced risk of hypertension, diabetes, and respiratory tract infections.

5. Being under too much stress

Stress can have damaging effects on the body and can cause an excess of a hormone called cortisol, which in turn can lead to a buildup of abdominal fat. Learn effective stress management techniques for dealing with difficult situations. Deep breathing, exercise, meditation and journaling can all help keep stress under control. Getting adequate sleep is also important. Learn what triggers stress for you and see if you can make any changes in your life to avoid those situations.

Your individual genetic makeup plays an important role in how you look and feel as you get older. Vivaliti DNA offers personalized genetic blueprints that provide insight into how your body works, allowing you to take preventive action and make proactive decisions about your health as you age. Request a consultation with a Vivaliti DNA health coach to learn how your genetics can unlock the secrets to taking control of your health!