The Anti-Aging Diet
It would make sense that if free radicals are the enemies, then we need a weapon of defense to stop the fight, better known as aging. Fortunately, scientific research has uncovered the ever-so-powerful effects of antioxidants. Even better, antioxidants have been found in a number of foods. Vitamin A, C, E and the mineral, selenium, known as the ACES, have been found to be the answer to destroying free radical activity. Beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein have been singled out as extremely potent antioxidants. A short list of foods rich in antioxidants include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Wheat germ
- Pink grapefruit
A word about selenium: Although selenium is not actually an antioxidant compound, but rather a mineral, it remains a beneficial component to the anti-aging diet. It differs from the other compounds because it is strictly found in the soil. It finds its way into our food supply in two ways: either from the direct contact with the produce we eat or through the meat of the poultry and beef we eat that are raised on selenium-rich soils where the feed is grown.
A major piece to the anti-aging diet puzzle is the nutrition equation of calories in vs. calories out. As mentioned earlier, the human body needs fewer calories as metabolic functioning winds down to second or third gear. Hence, in order to maintain a healthy body weight as we grow older, we need to eat less to keep the unused calories from landing into storage space of hips, thighs, belly and such. The importance of this calorie reduction cannot be understated since a healthy weight is vital to the prevention of several age-provoked diseases. Examples include diabetes, cardiovascular disease, arthritis and some cancers. Here are a few ways besides eating less to keep metabolic activity as high as possible:
- Eat 4 – 5 small meals per day
- Include nutrient-dense foods instead of “empty calorie” foods (since you need the same amount of nutrients, but fewer calories)
- Engage in weight-bearing exercise on a daily basis (muscle mass burns calories at a higher rate than fat mass)
- Measure food servings to ensure proper portions and adjust amounts accordingly. See the food guide pyramid for appropriate serving sizes
- Drink at least 8 – 12 cups of water per day
Other Important Anti-Aging Nutrients
There are specific areas of the body that need our special attention as the years sail on by. Bones, eyes, heart, and joints are highly vulnerable to the effects of aging. For this reason, the following tips will help promote optimal function throughout the years:
- Calcium: To prevent bone loss and fractures
- Vitamin A: To prevent macular degeneration of the eyes
- Phytonutrients: To prevent certain cancers
- Fiber: To prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol and to prevent colorectal cancer
- Vitamin B6: To prevent insomnia, to lower homocysteine levels shown to increase risk of stroke
- Unsaturated fats/Omega-3: To prevent heart disease, arthritic ailments, and certain cancers.
- Water: To prevent dehydration and keep organ systems working properly, as well as ridding the body of toxins. Water also keeps the skin looking healthy by providing the hydration it needs to minimize fine lines and wrinkles.
It is important to point out that while the above guidelines are vital to an anti-aging diet, persons of every age can benefit from the eating a healthy diet outlined here.