START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

5 Food Habits That Age You

Bad Habit No. 5 — Eating at your desk — or in the car, or while stressed in any way.

Big Offender: Cortisol (a stress hormone secreted by the adrenal glands)

How It Ages You: Stress hormones  — automatically released by the body under all kinds of stressful circumstances — are antithetical to digestion in a couple of ways. First, the release of adrenaline and cortisol — “fight-or-flight” chemicals — diverts blood toward your limbs and away from your stomach and intestines, which hinders your intestines’ ability to break down food and absorb nutrients. As a result, digestion grinds to a halt and food ferments, sending unusual metabolites into the bloodstream, explains Kevin Spelman, PhD, a research scientist in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro.

Second, stress throws off the gut’s acidity and, therefore, its ability to absorb certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12. As if that weren’t enough, cortisol also suppresses the body’s repair mechanisms. “By eating when you’re stressed, it’s as if you are damaging your body and locking out the repair crews,” says Henry Lodge, MD, coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit and Sexy — Until You’re 80 and Beyond (Workman Publishing, 2004). And finally, eating while stressed or distracted is also more likely to lead to unconscious eating, meaning you’ll be vulnerable to eating more than you intended or be prone to eating foods you would never have intended to eat under better circumstances.

The Fix: Slow down at mealtime. Instead of munching behind the wheel or at your desk, find a spot where you can relax and focus on your food and the pleasure of eating. If possible, eat with others whose company you enjoy, or eat in a place that makes you feel safe and happy. At home, create a relaxing atmosphere; set the table and light a candle, suggests Spelman: “Just as your senses assimilate that environment in a pleasant way, your body will assimilate food in a more efficient way.” Catherine Guthrie is a Bloomington, Ind.–based writer.

Read more: Diet & Nutrition, Eating for Health, Food, General Health, Health, Healthy Aging, , ,

By Catherine Guthrie, Experience Life

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love

Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.


+ add your own
8:22PM PDT on Mar 14, 2014

Thanks for sharing.

6:36PM PST on Jan 24, 2014

Oh my, the hardest one to me: reduce or stop eating sweet things! Love cakes, pies....

9:42PM PDT on Aug 17, 2013


9:53AM PDT on Jul 28, 2013

Thank you Megan, for Sharing this!

11:52PM PDT on Jun 22, 2013


6:41PM PDT on Jun 21, 2013


8:27AM PDT on Jun 14, 2013

thanks for that

8:21AM PDT on Jun 14, 2013

thank you

8:18AM PDT on Jun 14, 2013

thank you

8:16PM PDT on Jun 4, 2013

Indeed, thanks

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Wow. Is this ever a change. I used to fly alot with my dog back in the late '90s and early 2000. …

1. You have moments of joy. 2. You have family. 3. Grief. Is it better never to have had that …

8 y.o. (vegetarian) granddaughter was a restless sleeper - jerking, gasping, thrashing. Checked for …

I've had one dog till he was 16 yrs old, he hated a new pup I got some time after his friend, aged 1…


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.