By making the right anti aging food choices, you can give your body the powerful tools it needs to rebuild and repair so that you can defy the aging process. Let's face it – creams and lotions can only do so much.
To truly fight the effects of aging, the change must begin within. We know that high amounts of fat, sugar, and salt can contribute to wrinkles, heart disease, kidney damage, and declining brain function. So, if we live on a diet of
brownies and soft drinks even the best skin care treatments in the world will
have a hard time restoring our youthful appearance.
While certain foods can accelerate
aging, others can actually slow the process and, in some cases, may even be
able to reverse a little of the damage previously caused by our choices. By tapping into the power of food, you can live longer, look better, and have more energy than ever.
The Truth About Aging
Aging isn't always easy – we lose about 1% of our muscle mass each year which slows our metabolism, making us more susceptible to weight gain. Our vision can decline, its harder to get out of bed because of achy joints, and we just don't seem to have the energy level we had in our younger years.
But, it doesn't have to be that way. Your 40s, 50s, or even your 60s, 70s and 80s can be the best years of your life if you do some anti-aging exercises every day and stick to a diet that is specifically designed to keep you looking and feeling good at every age.
When it comes to fruits and veggies, colorful eating is the best way to get the maximum anti aging food benefits. So, when you stroll through the produce section of your supermarket, pick up the popular staples like tomatoes and broccoli, but also add some kale or a few avocados to your cart.
Fruits and veggies are full of antioxidants that help to fight free radicals, those pesky little molecules that like to damage healthy cells and leave us with wrinkles, illness, or fatigue.
Vitamin C is great for your skin, as is Lycopene which acts as a sunblock to protect you from the effects of damaging UV rays such as sunspots and wrinkles. Vitamin K can help prevent bone loss, zinc and beta-carotene can stop or slow macular degeneration, and biotin can keep your hair healthy.
The antioxidants, flavonoids, vitamins, and minerals present in fruits and vegetables have been shown to boost memory, encourage new skin cell growth, stimulate collagen production, prevent cognitive decline, and reduce inflammation that is often thought to cause cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and osteoporosis.
In fact, some studies show that they can even balance mood and boost energy levels so that you feel better. And, for those of us who are not in our twenties anymore, we know that “feeling good” is half the battle toward looking good.
Anti Aging Properties of Fruits and Vegetables
Berries: Berries are rich in antioxidants and can keep your skin beautifully wrinkle free. They are also high in fiber for weight control and contain many other nutrients that can protect your brain and help with memory function. Blueberries, blackberries, and cranberries also contain a particular antioxidant known as anthocyanin, which may slow the growth of certain cancers and help improve muscle tone and balance.
Leafy Greens: This group of veggies, particularly
spinach, kale, collards, and romaine lettuce is high in vitamin A, folate,
lutein and calcium to protect your vision, revitalize your skin, and keep your
Carrots: When you mother told you to eat your carrots
because they were good for your eyesight, it wasn't just a ploy to get you to
clean your plate! Carrots are a great source of vitamin A and beta-carotene
which are essential nutrients for your skin, hair, and – yes – your eyes!
Sweet Potatoes: Often hailed as the “healthiest food
on earth”, sweet potatoes contain lycopene to protect your skin from UV damage,
vitamin C to encourage collagen production, and vitamin A to fight visual
decline. They are also full of fiber and many other nutrients that make them
one of the best anti-aging foods available.
Cruciferous Veggies: Adding anti aging food choices such as broccoli
or cabbage to your diet has been shown to reduce the risk of certain cancers
and protect you against memory loss or declining brain function. You will
probably be eating that little dish of coleslaw that comes with your chicken
dinner now, right?
Tomatoes: High in lycopene, tomatoes can help prevent heart disease, keep your cholesterol levels in check and even has cancer-fighting abilities.
Watermelon: If you don't like tomatoes, eat watermelon
instead which is also rich in lycopene and beta-carotene.
Avocado: High in vitamin E and antioxidants, the avocado will help keep your skin healthy and your hair shiny so you will have that youthful glow reminiscent of your younger years.
Cucumbers: Did you know that the peel of a cucumber contains silica which can help boost collagen production and prevent wrinkles? That's worth adding a few slices to your salad, isn't it?
Because proteins help maintain or improve muscle mass, they should be a vital part of your anti aging food diet. Remember, once you reach your 40s, you lose about 1% or your muscle mass per year which not only affects your metabolism but can also impact your energy levels and sense of balance.
By keeping your muscles toned and firm, you will burn more calories to help avoid the “middle age weight gain”. Healthy protein also contains many vital nutrients that are important to longevity and strength.
Seafood: Try to limit your choices to fish that is high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s have been shown to protect the skin, eyes, heart, joints, and brain and may help reduce the risk of many age-related diseases such as heart failure, stroke, Alzheimer's, and cancer.
Some studies have even shown that Omega-3s can improve mood and help stave off the depression often associated with aging. Salmon, albacore tuna, and lake trout are your best choices for essential fatty acids while cod is high in selenium, an important mineral to protect the skin from sun damage.
Lean Meats:Choose skinless chicken and turkey breasts or very lean cuts of beef and pork. This way, you will be getting maximum protein without all the fat and cholesterol that can lead to heart problems and weight gain.
Dairy: Dairy products contain calcium, phosphorus, and
potassium which are important for strong bones and teeth. Remember to choose
low fat options to prevent elevated cholesterol or weight gain. Look for yogurt
that contains probiotics for intestinal health.
Eggs: Eggs are a good non-meat source of protein that
contain high levels of iron and biotin, necessary elements in healthy skin and
Beans and Lentils: These provide a plant-based protein
without all the fat and cholesterol of red meats. Kidney beans are especially
high in fiber, potassium, and zinc which can protect your heart, maintain
muscle mass, and help you fight the signs of aging.
In some of the new diet fads, carbs have a bad reputation. It
is true that processed grains and products made with white flours should be
avoided due to their lack of nutrition and the fact that they often have the
same impact on the body as sugar.
However, whole or unprocessed grains should be an important part of your anti aging diet. Not only are they high in fiber, which is essential for digestive health, but they are also loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can reduce your risk of stroke, heart disease, colon cancer, and diabetes.
Since they are digested more slowly than processed grains, they will keep you feeling full longer so you will be less likely to grab an unhealthy snack. Studies have also shown that eating whole grains is linked to lower LDL (the bad kind) cholesterol levels as well as higher HDL (the good kind) cholesterol levels. So, for the best anti aging food benefits, try to eat 3 servings a day of whole grains including oats, spelt, quinoa, or barley.
Many diets will tell you to avoid nuts because of their high
fat content. But, the healthy fats that they contain have not been linked to
weight gain and, in fact, nuts have great anti-aging benefits.
have even shown that they can lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of high
cholesterol levels by as much as 20%. Of course, they can't be chocolate
covered or heavily salted, and the key to finding the maximum benefits is to
consume in moderation. Just two or three nuts contain plenty of positive anti-aging food properties and can be eaten alone or added to salads, stir-fry dishes, or
Almonds: These little powerhouses contain
phytochemicals that can help prevent certain types of cancer. They are also
high in vitamin E for healthy skin and calcium for strong bones.
Walnuts: These nuts are great for your cardiovascular
system, can improve sleeping patterns, and are packed full of omega-3 fatty
acids which can help boost memory and improve brain function.
Brazil Nuts: Brazil nuts contain selenium which is
important for the production of glutathione, a substance that is essential for
skin cell repair. Adding these nuts to your diet will help keep your skin
healthy and glowing.
Not a nut fan? Well, try:
Chia Seeds: Both black and white chia seeds contain omega-3s and anti-inflammatory properties to help prevent wrinkles, keep skin resilient, and improve heart and digestive health. They are very high in fiber and protein and contain more calcium than milk to help prevent osteoporosis. Add them to your cereal, yogurt or smoothies.
Flax Seeds: Also rich in Omega-3s, flax seeds and oils can protect and repair your skin from sun damage, and can also treat dryness that often leads to older looking skin. They are high in vitamins A, C, and E as well as selenium and zinc. Sprinkle the seeds on your cereal or yogurt, or add the oil to vegetables or salad dressings.
Just as important as the anti aging food you eat are the beverages you choose to drink. Many beverages contain harmful chemicals, added sugars, or empty calories that contribute to weight gain and may accelerate the signs of aging.
But, that doesn't mean that you are banished to a life of nothing but plain water – although you should drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and free from toxins.
There are some healthy beverage choices that not only taste good, but will also fit nicely into your anti aging food program.
Red Wine: Granted, red wine is not exactly an anti aging food, but it does provide a number of anti aging benefits. Red wine contains a lot of polyphenols, particularly a compound known as Resveratrol. This antioxidant is very powerful and has been shown to reduce the inflammation associated with many age-related illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and cognitive decline.
In fact, research suggests that Resveratrol may contribute to longevity by actually stopping cell death in the heart and brain. If you don't like wine, opt for red grape juice instead.
Coffee: While coffee laden with heavy cream and sugar is definitely not good for you, some research has shown that black coffee may reduce the risk of heart disease, Parkinson's disease, or Type 2 diabetes.
Tea: Both white and green teas contain antioxidants that have been shown to lower rates of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease. Some studies show that green tea may actually slow the cell changes and damage that occur during the aging process.
Cranberry Juice: Full of flavonoids and antioxidants, cranberry juice not only fights free radicals, but it is also effective in preventing tooth decay.
Herbs and Spices
While salt should be limited, there are some herbs and spices that can benefit your body and help fight the aging process. A few of them include:
Cinnamon: Besides being an antioxidant, cinnamon has been shown to lower blood sugar and combat fatigue.
Curcumin: This is the spice that gives curry its yellow color and research suggests that it may have cancer-fighting properties.
Turmeric and Ginger: These spices both have anti-inflammatory abilities that may reduce the risk of certain diseases such as Alzheimer's or cancer.
Garlic and Onions: Many studies have shown that both garlic and onions can improve immunity and protect against heart disease and cancer.
Dark Chocolate: No, this isn't a spice, but no anti-aging diet would be complete without a good piece of dark chocolate. It contains protein, vitamin B, antioxidants, iron, and many other anti-aging properties to contribute to good health and prevent heart disease. In fact, chocolate that is 70% dark or higher can lower your LDL cholesterol while also raising your HDL levels.
I will continue to share ideas about diet and exercise that have helped me along the way. If you have any questions I can help you with, or ideas you would like to share, feel free to contact me or visit our Q&A forum