It’s important to embrace the natural changes that occur as you age, but whether you are still in your twenties, or knocking on the eighties, there’s no need to look or feel any older than you really are. Some of the lifestyle choices we make on a daily basis can lead to faster aging and put our body at a disadvantage over time.
So what can you do to help protect yourself from the aging process?
It’s actually quite simple. Rather than advising just another set diet, it involves an all-around lifestyle that takes into account what you eat and how you live. Let’s take a look.
The Natural Aging Process
Growing old is normal. Your cells start to slow down, and the results show in the way your skin looks. You start feeling more tired, and your organs begin to function differently or cause problems.
Why does this happen?
A big factor that speeds up the process of aging is free radicals. These are essentially oxygen atoms in your body that have been changed and become unbalanced. They then want to balance out again and do so by stealing parts of other cells in your body.
Studies suggest that up to 5 percent of the total oxygen intake has the ability to turn into free radicals by forming a highly damaging superoxide radical via electron escape.
The problem is that the affected cells often need the parts that were stolen from them and don’t function as well without them. That is when problems start to emerge in your body and, in particular, you might notice signs of aging.
Where do free radicals come from?
It’s natural for your body to have some free radicals; you actually need some for your body to function properly. It only becomes a problem if there are too many.
They are made from the oxygen atoms in your body from a range of different activities you might do on a daily basis. Here are some things that may cause free radicals in your body.
- Alcohol consumption
- Exposure to sunlight
- Air pollution
If these all lead to the production of free radicals and set off the aging process, it makes sense to avoid an excess of these things. Some of them may be okay in small doses — it’s actually really important to get some sunlight for a dose of vitamin D — but when there’s too much, it damages our cells and leads to faster aging.
Antioxidants and Free Radicals
You might have heard about antioxidants and the way they can hinder the aging process. How exactly can they help?
Antioxidants work in the body by neutralizing free radicals. This means that they stabilize the unstable atoms, so they can’t cause any damage to the cells in your body.
What type of foods contains antioxidants? Fortunately for us, you can consume them in your diet from a range of different fresh ingredients.
Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, copper, zinc and selenium are all important vitamins and minerals that are antioxidants. It is possible to get these from taking a dietary supplement, but research shows that it is much better to include them as a part of your natural diet.
Phytochemicals, which are natural compounds that are found in plants, also play a major role. These include:
- Lycopene in tomatoes
- Anthocyanin in cranberries
- Lutein in spinach and corn
A great to way to add more antioxidants to you diet is to take an acai berry supplement. Acai berries are packed with anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that fight free radicals and keep your skin looking beautiful.
Advanced Glycosylated End-Products (AGEs) and Different Cooking Methods
What you eat isn’t the only thing you need to worry about; it’s also important to think about how you cook it.
In fact, a lot of recent evidence has shown that the way you cook food can reduce the intake of advanced glycosylated products (AGEs), which can lead to diabetes and premature aging.
High levels of AGEs are found in many processed foods that are high in fat and sugar, as well as foods that come from animals and are high in protein. Limiting your intake of these foods can be good step to reducing your AGE intake.
The amount of AGEs in food can also increase substantially when the food is cooked, particularly when it is cooked with methods at high temperatures like frying or baking. This is why it can be a good idea to cook foods rich in AGEs at lower temperatures for a longer period of time, for example with a slow cooker.
A Guide to Healthy Eating
There are a lot of things to consider when trying to consume the best diet possible to help your body stay young and fresh.
Here are a few vital steps you can follow:
- Aim to eat at least 5 servings of vegetables each day (even more is better!)
- Eat a variety of different vegetables in your diet. The more colorful your plate is, the healthier it is because it contains a spectrum of phytochemicals! Don’t overcook your food or use really high temperatures. Sometimes crunchy, raw vegetables are a great option.
- Make sure you drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
A Complete Lifestyle Approach
Focusing on your diet alone simply isn’t enough to give your body the boost it needs to fight off aging – both the way it makes you look and feel.
Instead, a complete lifestyle approach is the best way to combat age. The real secret is to follow your instincts. You know what’s good for your body.
- Avoid or reduce your exposure to alcohol, smoke, pollution and harmful sun-rays.
- Maintain a healthy work-life balance to keep your stress levels in check.
- Eat foods that you know are good for you — fresh produce is best.
- Opt for foods that contain antioxidants to help control free radicals in your body.
- Avoid highly processed foods and those with a lot of fat or sugar.
- Use cooking methods that help to enhance the flavor of your food, without changing their healthy properties.
In the end, it’s important to realize that aging is natural; it will — and should — happen eventually. But, the things you eat and how you live affect this process, so it is possible for you to take control and do the best for your body.References