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Health, Dr. Mao, Santa Monica

How To Avoid Five Causes Of Rapid Aging

Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Courtesy Photo
Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Posted Mar. 30, 2014, 6:00 am

Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist

Most people are aware that negative lifestyle habits like smoking and excessive alcohol can lead to rapid aging. But what about the abundance of stress and poor nutrition that are so often a part of today’s high-pressure lifestyle?

Read on to see what could be causing rapid aging in your life.

1. Poor Diet

What you eat probably affects your health more than anything else you do. When you eat a poor diet – fatty, processed, or fried foods and simple sugars – you invite rapid aging by burdening your body with chemical additives and trans-fats and depriving your body of essential nutrients. On the other hand, when you eat life-giving foods you can prevent disease and improve organ function.

In general, your diet should consist of a wide array of colors and contain a balance of organic sources of lean protein, complex carbohydrates, whole grains, legumes, nuts, fruits, and vegetables.

Numerous studies show that the different pigments in the skins of fruits and vegetables are powerful antioxidants that are crucial for maintaining health, preventing cancer, and protecting against environmental toxins.

Avoid fatty foods as well as processed or fried foods. Keep dairy intake to a minimum, as most dairy products are high in saturated fat.

Remove candy, sugar, soda, and all simple sugars from your diet.

Excess sugar gets stored as fat in your body, which results in weight gain – a sure path to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes. You truly are what you eat, so eat well!

2. Unhappiness

Unhappiness does not only depress your mood, it also negatively affects your health. In fact, depressed, unhappy people are twice as likely to develop heart disease. And it has been confirmed that personality profile Type C – people that tend towards melancholy, depression, and excessive worry – are prone to developing cancer. Do not underestimate the power of your mind. Your experience is determined by the energy you embody, and in the end, it is your choice to have a negative perception or a positive attitude in reaction to life’s breakdowns. Laughter also increases the release of endorphins, compounds that give you a sense of well-being. Undoubtedly, joyful people live longer and healthier lives.

3. Lack of Exercise

I have never met a healthy person or centenarian that lived a physically inactive life. Exercise is essential for a healthy metabolism, proper energy circulation, and the expelling of cellular wastes. Being overweight and inactive is a surefire path to rapid aging and a host of diseases. Cardiovascular exercise is the key to speeding up your metabolism, burning excess calories, and fighting body fat. Brisk walking, hiking, jogging, swimming, bicycling, stair climbing – the options are endless for cardio health! Pick your favorite and exercise for 30 minutes at 60-80 percent of your MHR (you can find this number by subtracting your age from 220). Regular exercise is also the key to preventing non-insulin-dependent diabetes, which is the fastest growing disease in industrialized countries throughout the world.

You can stave off rapid aging to your muscles, joints, and tendons by practicing exercises that extend your range of motion; some options include tai chi, qigong and yoga. Also, moderate load-bearing exercises are essential for bone density and muscle strength. Don’t forget when you are exercising to always warm up and cool down properly to avoid injury.

4. Stress

Stress is a huge byproduct of our busy lives and it takes a tremendous toll on our health. Our body’s “survival mode” gets turned on all too often these days. When you experience stress, your body is programmed to go into fight-or-flight mode, a state that requires a lot of energy. Adrenaline is released from the adrenal gland, and it tells the body to convert stored sugar from the liver to glucose because the energy needs of the body increase substantially during the supposed fight-or-flight scenario.

Unfortunately, this scenario almost never plays out and the excess blood sugar that never got used ends up being stored as fat – inevitably resulting in weight gain. What’s more, all of this stress continually depletes your body of its energy resources until it crumples under the overload, leading to adrenal exhaustion, a nervous breakdown, or a broken-down immune system.

To stay stress-free, remember to breathe deeply all day. And give yourself a break! You are a human, not a machine. Try taking a 15-minute powernap during your lunch break. Better still, consider taking up meditation, a great way to dissolve stress. To learn more about how to use meditation to decrease stress you can try my Meditations for Stress Release CD which will help you achieve a state of relaxed body, tranquilized mind and restored spirit by following ten minutes of simple breath/mind exercises.

5. Lack of Sleep

There’s no way around it: the average adult needs seven to eight hours of quality sleep every night to maintain health. Consider that your immune system drops by an average of 60 percent after just three nights of poor sleep. Without sufficient “recovery time” each night, you will run your body down and wear out your life force, paving the way for disharmony and disease.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine, and board certified anti-aging expert. He has recently appeared on “The Ricki Lake Show,” “Dr. Oz,” and contributes to Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Pasadena. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded the Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter, visit

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