Ageing is inevitable and as I am less than a month away from turning the dreaded 40 I am more aware of the pitfalls of ageing.
That’s not to say I’m old and decrepid just yet, but let’s say that the greys hairs, wrinkles, the not so tight taut skin is becoming more visible.
But can we reverse ageing or can we do anything to slow it down.
Well in actual fact we can, and nutrition and lifestyle plays a major factor in the agEing process so what we eat, drink and how we live our lives can either support and reduce the ageing signs or it can actually speed up ageing….and I know which one I would rather go for.
Let’s start with Food…my favourite subject.
We all know by now that food plays a major part in our health and wellbeing so it’s safe to say that what we eat can impact our skin, hormones, energy levels, muscle tone etc which are all components of ageing.
One aspect of ageing is the effect that reactive oxygen species also known as free radicals, have on our body.
Free radicals are unstable atoms created by chemical reactions within the body and from external pollution, chemicals and lifestyle that can damage cells, causing illness and aging.
These amazing Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body.
Our body creates antioxidants to defend our body from these reactive oxygen species (free radicals) however antioxidants are also found in plant based foods such as fruit and vegetables and other plant based sources.
So why do we need extra antioxidants…well the simple answer is, we live in a world where we are bombarded with external negative impacts such as pollution, chemicals found in cosmetics, smoking, alcohol, medication as well as stress which plays a major part in ageing and disease as well as higher consumption of processed and sugary foods which can cause an increase in these free radicals.
Our body needs to find a balance with free radicals so that’s where antioxidants play there part.
When free radicals outnumber antioxidants, it can lead to a oxidative stress.
This prolonged oxidative stress can damage your DNA and other important molecules in your body. Sometimes it even leads to cell death.
So consuming foods containing antioxidants is vital to maintain a good balance of these free radicals.
These antioxidants are known as ;
Vitamin C which is a water-soluble antioxidant and is an essential dietary nutrient.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant and plays a critical role in protecting cell membranes against oxidative damage.
Flavonoids are a group of plant antioxidants that has many health benefits.
Berries, green tea, coffee, and cacao are a great source of antioxidants, but also think of other vegetables and fruit.
The wonderful colours of vegetables and fruit is in part down to the antioxidants it contains such as deep red from anthocyanins so eating a rainbow 🌈 at each meal time will increase the amount antioxidants that you consume.
Specific foods for anti ageing include;
Sweet potatoes that contain an antioxidant called beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A.
Vitamin A may help restore skin elasticity, promote skin cell turnover and reduce the effects of ageing.
Avocados are high high in healthy fatty acids that promote smooth, supple skin. They also contain a variety of essential nutrients including vitamins K, C, E, and A, B vitamins and potassium.
The high content of vitamin A in avocados can help us shed dead skin cells, resulting in glowing skin. Their carotenoid content may also assist in blocking toxins and damage from the sun’s rays and also help to protect against skin cancers.
Broccoli which is packed full of anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing vitamins and minerals such as vitamins C and K, a variety of antioxidants, fibre, folate, lutein and calcium.
Peppers are a powerhouse of antioxidants.
In addition to their high content of vitamin C which is good for collagen production, red bell peppers contain powerful antioxidants called carotenoids. Carotenoids are plant pigments that give the bright red, yellow, and orange colors you see in many fruits and vegetables. They have anti-inflammatory properties
and may help protect skin from sun damage and pollution.
Papaya contains many vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, C, K, and E, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, B vitamins.
The wide range of antioxidants helps to fight free radical damage and reduce the signs of ageing.
Papaya also contains an enzyme called papain, which provides additional anti-aging benefits by working as one of nature’s best anti-inflammatory agents. You can find this in many exfoliating products.
Blueberries rich in vitamins A and C, as well as an age-defying antioxidant called anthocyanin. This is what gives blueberries their deep, beautiful blue color.
Anthocyanins can help protect skin from damage due to the sun, stress, and pollution by moderating the inflammatory response and prevent collagen loss.
Spinach is hydrating and packed with antioxidants that can help to oxygenate and replenish the entire body. It’s also rich in vitamins A, C, E, and K, magnesium, plant-based heme iron and lutein.
Spinach has a high vitamin C content which enhances collagen production to keep skin firm and smooth, as well as it’s vitamin A content which may promote strong, shiny hair.
Nuts are a great source of Vitamin E which can which can help repair skin tissue, retain skin moisture, and protect skin from damaging UV rays.
Nuts such as walnuts contain omega 3 fats that have anti-inflammatory properties.
Omega 3 fats
Omega 3 fats found in oily fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, mackerel, as well as walnuts, chia seeds, flax, have amazing anti inflammatory properties and have been shown to strengthen our skin cell membranes, protect against sun damage and give skin a beautiful glow by preserving its natural oil barrier.
Collagen is an important protein which the body needs to keep the skin looking young and healthy.
As we age, our body produces less collagen. This lack of collagen results in the common signs of aging. Wrinkles, sagging skin that has lost its elasticity, and stiff joints are all signs that the body is producing less collagen.
We can boost collagen levels by including a collagen supplement, including Hyaluronic acid which is an important compound for collagen in the skin. It is found in foods rich in amino acids, such as beans, root vegetables, and soy.
Including Vitamin C rich foods can also help to boost collagen levels.
Supporting blood sugar levels is also important and eating a well balanced diet. You see yo yo dieting, starvation, eating high sugary foods and surges in our blood sugar levels are all stresses on the body which increases free radical production so by including whole plant based foods, eating well not less and supporting blood sugar levels and avoiding processed foods can all help to reduce the signs of ageing.
Reduce exposure to pollution can reduce the burden of free radicals within the body and our skin, and of course increasing antioxidant consumption.
Reducing alcohol consumption as well as smoking also has been shown to improve the appearance of soft supple skin.
Incorporating exercise into our daily lives can frantically improve our overall health.
Telomeres are an essential part of human cells that affect how our cells age.
Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes, like the plastic tips at the end of shoelaces.
Telomere length represents our biological age and telomere lengths shorten with age. Without the protection
from telomeres, our cells age and die.
So if telomeres start to shrink as we age, how can we reduce this.
It has been shown that older people with longer telomeres don’t experience vascular aging as rapidly as people with shorter ones. This means their veins are generally in better shape and they’re less at risk for conditions like heart disease and stroke.
Exercise has been shown to help reduce telomere shrinkage at a cellular level. This includes cardio in the form of HIIT training as well as resistance training.
But of course incorporating a good diet with exercise will help to support our body through ageing and help to reduce those typical ageing pit falls.