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Positive lifestyle habits such as eating healthy and exercising can help put a stop to rapid aging.
Positive lifestyle habits such as eating healthy and exercising can help put a stop to rapid aging.

Health, Seven Days, Dr. Mao, Santa Monica

Dr. Mao's Wellness Living: Change Your Ways To Avoid Rapid Aging

Posted Jul. 15, 2012, 1:55 am

Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist

Aging is a natural part of life, but aging before your time doesn’t need to be.

Most people are aware that negative lifestyle habits like smoking and excessive alcohol can lead to rapid aging, but what about the repeated stress and poor nutrition that are so often a part of the high-pressure lifestyles we lead?

1. Poor Diet

What you eat probably affects your health more than anything else you do. You truly are what you eat, so eat well! 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 prevent disease and improve organ function.

In general, your diet should consist of a wide array of colors along with 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 can be crucial for maintaining health, preventing cancer, and protecting against environmental toxins.

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 more prone to develop cancer. Do not underestimate the power of your mind. Your experience is determined by the energy you embody, and in the end, it is up to you to decide whether you will have a negative or positive attitude in reaction to life’s breakdowns.

Many studies have found that an increase in the immune cells that attack cancer cells occurred in cancer patients who experienced 30 minutes of deep belly laughter every day for 12 weeks. 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 who 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 – your options are endless for cardio health!

Exercise for 30 minutes at 60-80 percent of your MHR (maximum heart rate, found 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, Qi Gong, and yoga. Self-Healing Qi Gong Meditation helps you understand the causes of disease and demonstrates techniques to help us relieve many common physical conditions. With daily practice you can enhance our health, achieve relaxation and return our bodies to their natural shapes. 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 are experiencing 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!

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 appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors, and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter visit

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