What you put in your mouth affects both your physical and mental functions. Ever wonder why you’ve gained or lost a few pounds for no obvious reason? Had one of those days where you can’t seem to remember a thing? Your diet may have something to do with it. Your diet also affects how you age. More specifically, it plays a part in whether you age gracefully or whether you show signs of early aging. While we cannot prevent time from moving forward, we can be proactive in reducing the physical and mental effects of aging. Certain foods can actually help you age slower.
While it’s not essential that you fully understand digestive and metabolic functions, understanding the basics can be helpful. Basically, all food and drink pass through the stomach, eventually ending up in your small intestine. Your small intestine breaks down everything that you eat and drink into its basic elements, including vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Your gut delivers the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from healthy foods into your body’s cells, which provide nourishment. Contrastly, when you eat junk, your cells – for the lack of a better term – feel like crap.
Your choice of food also affects the rate at which your metabolism either hums or sputters along. For example, protein-rich foods give your metabolism a boost, while complex and refined carbs – as they are very difficult to break down – significantly slows your metabolism. When your metabolic rate is slow, you’re more at-risk for developing a myriad of health conditions – all of which are linked, directly or indirectly, to an impaired inflammatory response. In short, healthy food helps to keep your metabolism going. By contrast, junk food slows your metabolism – increasing inflammation, and promoting aging.
It all comes down to this: if you want to age slower, you first have to slow down inflammation and improve your metabolic health. People who show signs of aging too early in life often don’t bother with keeping inflammation in check.
The Role of Food in Aging
“Poor-quality foods, like trans fats, cause inflammation – and aging is basically a chronic inflammatory state. Can you look older because you’re eating like crap? Absolutely.” – Timothy Harlan, MD, assistant professor at Tulane University School of Medicine
Before we get to the five foods that make you age slower, let’s add another tool to your anti-aging toolkit by going over the foods to avoid at all costs! (Remember: “Prevention is the best medicine.”)
Stay away from the following:
- Deep-fried stuff: anything that is deep-fried is bad. This includes the pre-packaged stuff, like potato chips and French fries.
- Doughnuts and pastries: laced with fat, pastries contain a boatload of sugar. Excess sugar intake is tied to the early development of wrinkles.
- Fatty meats: also high in “sat fats,” fatty meats offer little in the way of nutritional value.
- Processed meats: most processed meat is high in saturated fat and nitrates; both accelerate inflammation and therefore aging.
- Too much booze: up to two drinks per day may be beneficial, but anything beyond an occasional couple of beers or glasses of wine causes early aging.
Now that you know what to avoid, let’s get to the important stuff.
Here are five foods that make you age slower!
“Ninety percent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs. You are what you eat.” – Victor Lindlahr
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are packed with fiber and protein, both of which help to stabilize your blood sugar levels. Fiber helps us feel fuller for longer, while protein helps build muscle and burn fat while providing a steady dose of energy. Perhaps most important, beans are low on the glycemic (read: sugar) scale, meaning that they provide the above benefits without causing inflammation or slowing the metabolism. Both help to slow the aging process.
Black, kidney, navy, and pinto beans are all great choices, as are garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and dried peas.
Carrots are one of the best health foods available, mainly due to a large helping of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant, safeguarding our cells and DNA from free radicals such as environmental pollutants. Free radicals can cause early aging, and beta-carotene works as a preventative measure in this regard. Carrots also contain the nutrient falcarinol, which has anti-cancer properties.
To get the most nutritional value from carrots, try eating them raw and whole. Chopping and cooking the vegetable allows some of the nutrients to “leak” out.
Products derived from soybeans such as tofu and edamame help to prevent cellular aging. Edamame has a rich supply of isoflavones, a class of phytochemicals that have anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant properties. Tofu, a favorite of vegetarians and vegans, has the same benefits of edamame, but with a healthy dose of protein and essential amino acids! Tofu is also mineral-dense, containing calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, and zinc!
In short, if you want to prevent early aging, load up on soy products! (Note: If you are eating tofu, we recommend organic sprouted tofu!)
As we are well-aware, diseases affecting the brain and heart tend to target older adults. A good solution is to substitute some of that red meat for freshwater fish such as salmon, which provides healthy fatty acids. Researchers state that omega-3 fatty acid can ward off age-related cognitive decline. The freshwater fish is also loaded with potassium, which may help prevent the development of heart disease.
Finally, salmon is one of the few foods that contain a good dose of selenium, a mineral that promotes thyroid health, regulates hormonal activity, and keeps the metabolism revved up!
Lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, mandarins, and tangerines are some of the best foods to slow aging down. Let us count the ways citrus helps:
– Contains a boatload of vitamin C, which has antioxidant properties, fights infections, and limits inflammation.
– Contains anti-aging flavonoids and carotenoids.
– Wards off age-related cognitive decline, heart disease, and various types of cancer.
Health foods, such as those mentioned above, go a long way in limiting the physical and mental effects of aging. Diet is an absolutely critical factor, and we’ve given you five of some of the most potent foods to help you age slower. If you need additional proof, ask someone in your life who has aged gracefully to list some of their favorite foods! The chances are quite good they’ll give you some awesome items to incorporate into your diet.
Stay healthy, eat right, age slower, and age beautifully!