If there was a pill you could take to slow down aging, how much would you pay for it?
My guess is that the new car you had been eyeing would suddenly look a little less tempting.
As it turns out, optimal aging ‘pills’ exist, and you don’t need to spend a fortune to try them. Instead of the pharmacy however, you can find them in the grocery store. While there isn’t one magical food that will make your wrinkles melt away, adding foods filled with optimal aging substances to your diet will help prevent you from looking and feeling older than you truly are.
Feeling skeptical that food can affect the aging process? That’s normal. However, I’m not letting you off the hook:) Let’s look closer at the facts to fill in the information gaps and help you understand why ‘you are what you eat’ rings truer for your appearance than you realize.
The Difference Between Optimal Aging and Anti-Aging
Why do I reference ‘optimal aging’ instead of ‘anti-aging’?
I want to be clear that there’s nothing you can do to prevent yourself from getting older (chronologically) every day. The clock is ticking for all of us, and there is no refuting that. However, the question is what can we do to extend our clock? In contrast, I prefer to talk about ‘optimal aging’ which, embraces the concept that you can give your body what it needs to age gracefully. Allowing you to live and enjoy the best quality of life for as long as possible all by means of dietary, environmental, and lifestyle modification strategies.
How Can Food Slow Down Aging?
Despite the newest aging-related technology available today, the food you eat is still one of the best ways to manage your appearance. Eating a varied diet filled with plant-based foods will protect and preserve the functioning of everything from your brain and joints to your skin complexion.
The best foods for keeping you looking and feeling younger are filled with health-promoting substances- mainly antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. The free radical theory states that aging is caused by chemical reactions in cells that generate free radicals. These molecules wreak havoc on healthy cells, cutting out their oxygen supply and removing collagen.
The more free radicals are coursing through your body, the older you look. However, dietary substances like antioxidants can naturally fight free radical damage and keep your cells acting younger than they are. By eating the right foods, you can dramatically slow down the aging process.
Top Five Foods for Optimal Aging
The sky is virtually the limit in regards to all of the different types of food that can assist your body to age well. In fact, I could write about my top 50 favourite optimal aging superfoods! I will save that for the book 😉 However, here are a few of my current favourites listed below. Whatever your goals are for aging gracefully, adding these five foods to your regular eating routine will be of huge benefit.
1. Green Tea:
As one of the most popular drinks worldwide (second only to water) green tea is filled with optimal aging components like antioxidants, anti-inflammatory agents, and metabolism-boosting properties. Catechins are the most famous green tea antioxidant, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) specifically can prevent sun damage and fight off free radicals in your skin. In fact, a Chinese study showed that men who consistently drank green tea had cells that aged at a slower rate than men who didn’t.
There is also evidence that drinking green tea can help you live longer. In Japan, research shows that the nation’s biggest green tea enthusiasts tend to live longer than the general population, and studies have found that EGCG can almost double the lifespan of roundworms.
Green tea may also help you maintain independence in old age. A study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that green tea lowered the risk of stroke, mental impairment, osteoporosis (thanks to its abundant flavonoids) and other age-related diseases in almost 15,000 Japanese study participants older than 65. Three to four cups a day was enough for participants to see results, but those who drank more than five reduced their risk of age-related diseases by a third.
By keeping the telomerase (chromosomes) of your cells intact longer, you will look younger than your age. In fact, the difference in telomere length between tea drinkers and non-tea drinkers is about five years, meaning that the DNA of green tea enthusiasts look younger than the general population.
As if this wasn’t enough, there’s also evidence that green tea can improve your physical appearance, too. Tea’s abundance of antioxidants destroys free radicals that lead to aging skin, even when you drink it. The natural antioxidative properties of tea protect the chromosomes of your DNA from undergoing regular oxidative damage that leads to aging.
For the best results for your health, drink at least a cup a day. You can also consider investing in skin products that are formulated with green tea extract to enjoy the benefits externally.
2. Bone Broth
Bone broth is getting trendy, and for good reason. Not only does this healthy beverage taste fantastic, but it’s also versatile to use and full of health benefits for optimal aging. Before you dismiss it as a fad, keep in mind that bone broth is one of the oldest healing foods on the planet, and it has been used as a natural remedy for thousands of years.
The key to bone broth’s benefits come from the nutrients it contains, including the following:
– Collagen: This natural protein is responsible for building healthy skin, keeping it hydrated, and preventing the appearance of age-related wrinkles. While your body makes its own collagen, aging reduces your natural supply, making it important to supplement your levels with your diet. Ingesting collagen in bone broth is particularly helpful for preventing inflammation in your digestive tract, which reduces your risk of leaky gut and other intestinal disorders.
– Glycine: As an amino acid, glycine helps your liver process the toxins you take in over the day, removes them from your body, and even works to re-energize aging cells.
– Minerals: Calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and more can all be found in bone broth, and these minerals are a highly bio-available form of optimal aging nutrition. Not only do they improve oxygen circulation throughout your body, but they also promote wound healing and lighten scars.
– Glycosaminoglycans (GAGs): Including compounds like glucosamine, chondroitin and hyaluronic acid, GAGs are molecules with a gel-like consistency that fill the space between collagen and elastin to maintain the plumpness of your skin. Drinking bone broth keeps your levels high, meaning that your skin will stay well nourished.
– Iodine: Fish bone broth is especially rich in this necessary nutrient that keeps your thyroid healthy, meaning that it helps your body combat age-related weight gain, thinning hair, and low energy levels.
For optimal aging benefits, drink a few cups of bone broth every week, ideally 1 cup daily. You can drink it in a mug just like coffee or use it as a base for a nourishing soup. If you add a little salt, the taste is so addicting you’ll struggle to stick to just one cup. If you’re feeling creative, the broth also makes an ideal base for braising greens or cooking grains like quinoa or rice.
3. Brussels Sprouts
If the thought of Brussels sprouts triggers your gag reflex, you are a victim of their undeserved bad reputation. That’s unfortunate, as this cabbage relative packs a serious punch to fight the aging processes.
Ounce for ounce, Brussels sprouts are one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat, as they contain an almost complete nutritional profile. Brussels sprouts have more protein than most plants, and a single serving exceeds your vitamin C and vitamin K requirements for the day. Just 100 grams also contains 17% Vitamin B6, 15% of folate 12% of Vitamin B1, and 8% of Vitamin B2.
As a lack of vitamin K can lead to osteoporosis, eating regular servings of sprouts will keep your bones in better shape. The vitamin C they contain has benefits for your hair health as well. Studies show that consuming some regularly prevents hair from getting brittle and falling out.
The news is even better for your waistline, as Brussel sprouts are almost devoid of calories (unless you serve them with butter!)
Even better, they provide an impressive serving of fiber that can keep your digestive system functioning. This same fiber also works to keep your blood pressure in check, meaning that regular servings will cut down the LDL cholesterol in your body. Too much LDL cholesterol is correlated with heart attacks over time, consuming Brussels sprouts will help keep your heart young.
This underrated vegetable also keeps your brain acting younger than its age. Not only does it enhance brain function and improve memory, but it can combat the symptoms of neurological conditions like anxiety, ADHD, and depression.
This flavourful vegetable has powerful properties for your skin, too. Brussels sprouts are filled with antioxidants, and these free radical fighters can reduce the prevalence of wrinkles, age spots, dryness, and general dullness on your skin. Likewise, their water content keeps you hydrated both internally and externally, which can lead to healthier, more supple skin. Thanks to these same antioxidants, Brussels sprouts protect and enhance your cell’s DNA stability which, prevents age-related damage from taking place.
So, serve some up for dinner, and your body will thank you later.
4. Brazil Nuts
Native to South America, Brazil nuts have profound benefits for your health. Smooth in texture and with a surprisingly sweet flavour, they might just become your go-to snack once you learn how beneficial they are for your skin.
The vitamins and minerals that these nuts contain make them useful for keeping your skin looking younger than your age, and they are beneficial for treating a variety of skin problems as well.
Brazil nuts are the densest food source of bio-available selenium, an antioxidant that lowers your risk of developing skin cancer and adds a natural glow to your skin by speeding up the cell turnover process.
Their vitamin E level also improves the mucous membranes of your cells to keep your skin in top shape. For this reason, applying Brazil nut oil to your skin before bed can improve your complexion and its elasticity as you sleep.
Brazil nuts also promote better hair health, thanks to their omega 3 fatty acids. Using shampoos and conditioners that are infused with the nuts can improve hair growth rates and general shininess, and you can get similar benefits from eating the nuts as well.
Just two to four Brazil nuts a day will give you all the selenium you need, so crush some into your salad, sprinkle them on top of dessert, or even dip them in chocolate for an indulgent treat.
5. Manuka Honey
‘Honey’ and ‘healthy’ may not be correlated in your mind, but the truth is that Manuka honey has some surprising benefits for your body. This special honey comes only from New Zealand, the home of the Manuka bush. Not only is this honey delicious, but it’s also considered a powerful medicine with skin healing properties.
Manuka honey contains about four times the amount of amino acids, B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc than regular honey.
These extra benefits come from the higher enzyme levels that it contains which creates a natural antibacterial in the form of hydrogen peroxide. This means that Manuka honey can be consumed, or used directly on your skin as a potent natural healing agent for minor wounds and burns. However, the benefits hardly end there. Manuka honey is also regularly used to treat diabetes, keep cholesterol levels low, prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease, and manage digestive difficulties.
You can use Manuka honey as a facial scrub to keep your skin looking youthful. Not only will it treat acne and eczema, but its antimicrobial properties can prevent other conditions, too. Taken daily, a small amount of Manuka honey can also boost your energy levels and improve your skin tone and texture, thanks to its nutrient density.
Only a tablespoon is needed to make a homemade face exfoliant or pour some into your coffee for internal benefits instead. To enhance its natural immune-boosting effects, consider adding a teaspoon of cinnamon as well.
Functional Wellness at The Dempster Clinic- Center for Functional Medicine
Interested in further optimal aging strategies? At The Dempster Clinic- Center for Functional Medicine, we not only want you to look your best, but to also feel your best! We offer a variety of approaches that are customized to your individual needs. Schedule an appointment today in order to discuss the best optimal aging strategies for you.
To get started, we offer a free 15-minute consultation to help you understand how we can assist you in reaching all of your health goals.
I look forward to treating you soon!