The process of aging is pretty simple.

Live. Age. Repeat.

Frightening, I know!

Physiologically speaking, it's also quite easy to comprehend.

The body's regeneration process is divided into two main categories: one builds the body up (anabolic) and one breaks the body down (catabolic). The breaking-down process is essential for clearing out old, damaged cells and cellular waste material to make room for the new. The building-up process replaces these old and cleared out cells with new ones.

Want to know what influences our building-up and breaking-down processes?

Hormones! Hormones are chemical communicators that direct the cellular building processes. Hormones and the messages they send are essential for breaking down old cells and making new cells. As your body loses cells and hormone levels decline, your body breaks down more than it builds up, which equals aging.

Professionals all over the world are unknowingly speeding up their aging by interfering with hormone production causing faster breaking-down and less-efficient building-up. It is how we work and the lifestyle habits we develop around work that are accelerating our cellular aging!

If you are aging more rapidly on the inside, you are also going to look older and feel older much faster on the outside. Do you need any more evidence of this truth than the 'graying of our presidents'? Perform a quick Google Images search of before-and-after photos of Presidents to see prime examples of how work ages!

So what are the common variables that come to mind when considering the visible aging of the Presidents? 1) Same Job 2) Same Work Environment and 3) Same Stress.

Stress ages us. Stress as you know, activates the fight-or-flight response that releases specific stress hormones revving up all the bodily systems (think adrenaline and cortisol). Stress causes everything to work faster, harder, and puts the body in a breaking-down state in order to make energy available to run or fight the perceived threat. As mentioned above, it is the same stress hormones that influence the breaking-down and building-up process. Stress exaggerates the breaking-down of cells and suppresses the building-up of cells. Building-up happens at relaxation, rest, and during sleep under proper nutrition and hydration.

Unfortunately, it's not only stress at work that speeds up aging. Here are eight other work-related nutrition and lifestyle behaviors that accelerate aging. These factors all increase the hormone production of insulin, which is responsible for sending and transporting blood sugar into the cells of the body after we eat, drink, and during fight-or-flight. When blood sugar goes up from any cause, insulin follows suit by putting the sugar in the brain and body's cells, which will lower the sugar level in blood circulation.

Think of our cells as little gas tanks that store and use blood sugar as fuel. Poor lifestyle habits prevent our cars from using the fuel stored in these little gas tanks and an imbalance lifestyle can even pump more fuel into these tanks until they are about to overflow! To prevent the fully-fueled cells from receiving more sugar, the body will lock the little gas tank doors on cells from being opened by insulin. This is called insulin resistance.

Insulin is also directly connected to two other primary and well-known stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. Without these hormones we would die. An imbalance in any of these hormones leads to imbalance in all of them, which leads to a slow-death, disease and advanced aging. I'm sharing this because insulin spikes due to mismanaged stress and poor habits in the eight lifestyle factors below will also raise these other two main stress hormones cause more breaking-down of cells. Managing insulin (as well as adrenaline and cortisol) levels is at the heart of an effective anti-aging lifestyle strategy.

Alcohol - The beverage of choice for work happy hours, dinner meetings, business travel, socializing, as well as insomnia and stress relief is toxic to cells and elevates the hormone insulin because it's derived from fruit or grain (carbohydrates).
Artificial Sweeteners - This ever-present additive in coffee, tea, soda, snacks, and processed foods can lead to carbohydrate cravings and will break down to chemicals that are poisonous to the human body.
Caffeine - The energy and sleep-deprived professional's band-aid of choice is a stimulant. All stimulants create issues with the hormone insulin and are eventually depressants as they deplete serotonin stores.
Lack of Exercise - Computer and desk work has us sitting more than ever which increases our body fat, raises our blood sugar and insulin, and boosts levels of daily stress. Exercise can not only burn and use blood sugar in and out of the cell, but it can release human growth hormone for cell building.
Poor Nutrition - Time-crunched professionals flee from fresh, raw, and whole foods and flock to grab-and-go foods which are man-made, processed, refined, and carbohydrate-centered. These eating habits lead to increased exposure to and consumption of toxic chemicals, white flour, pasteurized diary, sugar, unhealthy fats and table salt. All of these ingredients lead to inflammation of brain, gut, and joint cells that elicit a release of insulin as a result of the stress response.
Prescription, over-the-counter drug use and other recreational drugs - It's rare to find a professional that is not taking any medical drugs these days. Prescription and OTC drugs and the chemicals in them can irritate the gut creating inflammation lowering your ability to absorb and digest food critical in the cellular building process as well as drops your immune system.
Tobacco - Cigarette breaks are still seen being taken outside of offices around the world and tobacco's hydrocarbons damage brain and body cells. The nicotine is a stimulant and causes insulin resistance as well as elevations in heart rate and blood pressure.
Sleep - Lacking sleep is essentially lacking the best form of rebuilding and repair for all the cells of your body and brain. Less than 7 hours of sleep and staying up beyond 10:30PM is stressful on the body which hikes up stress hormones, blood sugar, and insulin. It is during sleep that our human growth hormone elevates for cell-building as well, use it or lose it.

By effectively managing your stress and improving your daily patterns with the above eight lifestyle factors you will not only slow an accelerated aging process, but you can even reverse damage that has been done. The big take away from this article is that work isn't what is aging you...your response to work and the way at which you live in relationship to work is what is aging you! Event though your job, work environment, and stress made be the same as a colleague or co-worker how you manage yourself, your work, and life is completely unique and up to you.

So what will it be...

...sleep or saggy skin?

...water or wrinkles?

If you easily want to see what choices you've been making and what you value on a daily basis just look at a before-and-after photo to see the truth.

I hope you choose you!

Author's Bio: 

Lance Breger is an Executive Wellness Coach and the Founder of Infinity Wellness Partners, a comprehensive corporate wellness company that prepares executives and organizations for the most productive and healthy work-life. Lance has led online/on-site training programs for thousands of professionals through his company’s four pillars of wellness: fitness, nutrition, mind/body and ergonomics.

Lance was named a Top 25 Health Promotion Professional in the nation by the Wellness Council of America. He is also a Master Instructor for the American Council on Exercise and the recipient of the IDEA Health & Fitness Association Program Director of the Year award. Contact Lance for coaching, consulting and speaking at: