AGING ISN’T THE SAME THING AS GETTING OLDER. Aging is a slow degradation of our bodies down to the cellular and DNA level. Scientists are still trying to understand precisely what causes it. Still, outside factors such as stress, diet and pollution also play a big role. That’s where we as individuals can make a difference by eating foods that fight aging.
Much of the damage results from free radicals. These are oxygen molecules that bind to and damage our cells over time. Our bodies produce them naturally, but we are also bombarded by those other external sources. General good health—eating well, getting regular exercise, limiting alcohol and refraining from smoking—is always the best front-line defense against aging (mind, body and skin). There are certain foods that give an added boost, known as foods that fight aging. Primarily those foods with high levels of antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals and keep skin looking youthful.
Healthy Choices – Nuts and berries
Strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries and goji berries (although the vitamin content of gojis vary widely), are all ideal antioxidant sources. Nuts are also key. Choose almonds, walnuts, pecans and pistachios. Peanuts are not actually nuts. And almond powder makes the perfect flour substitute for breading chicken or fish.
Anti-oxidant Rich — Fruit and vegetables
Artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, broccoli, potatoes, tomatoes and watermelon are all antioxidant-rich. Spinach, cabbage and broccoli are all healthier eaten raw. Tomatoes are healthier when cooked, but raw still works. Carrots and yellow squash are fabulous sources of beta-carotene. This, another powerful antioxidant known to combat wrinkles.
Green tea, red beans, pomegranate juice and oats are all antioxidant-rich foods. As are dark chocolate (with 70 percent or higher cacao), red wine and herbs such as cinnamon, ginger and oregano. High levels of other vitamins can also ward off common age-related illnesses. To fight osteoporosis, eat foods high in zinc and calcium. Since calcium from milk is not absorbed, stick instead to leafy vegetables, salmon and sardines. Get zinc from meat and shellfish or, for vegetarians, from sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds and wheat germ.
Maintaining ideal levels of vitamin E can cut chances of heart disease in half. For instance, eat a salad with spinach, avocado and nuts. Foods rich in beta-carotene (carrots, squash and sweet potatoes) are important, and grapefruit has been found to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Memory loss is a common problem in aging. Vitamin B, absorbed from meat and fish, lentils, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, nuts, wheat germ and bananas, is nutrition for the brain.
To lessen the effects of aging, continue to eat a varied diet of organic meat, vegetables, fruits and nuts. Incorporate antioxidants and exercise regularly. If you do, I can promise you will live a better life, if not a longer one.
Shellee Dyne is a certified nutritionist and wellness expert. Learn more about Shellee and her practice at dyneamicnutrition.com.