You’ve heard the old saying “you’re only as old as you feel” and if you think about it this is true when it comes to body and mind aging. I know people that appear old even though they may not be that old in years and then I know people who are up in their 80’s and 90’s that I would guess were younger. What age you are isn’t as important in the grand scheme of things as how healthy you are and how much you are able to enjoy life. If aging means you are not mobile, full of aches and pains or disease, your mind and cognitive abilities are suffering, and you just don’t look or feel your best then no wonder it is something we dread. But if aging means we are able to retire and spend more time with family, traveling, enjoying hobbies we’ve never had time for before and being mentally alert, disease-free and able to get around well, then that’s a whole different story and one that gives us something to look forward to. No matter what age you are now, there are things you can do to “youthify” your body and mind now to help you slide into your senior years with a healthy body and mind.
Antioxidant Foods For Your Body
Our over 75 trillion cells are essential components to health and longevity. These cells however are constantly under attack by damaging, unstable molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are molecules in cells that are weakened to the point that they lose an electron. This weakness is caused by things such as toxins in the body, exposure to UV rays, chlorinated water, pollution, and overcooked, fried and processed foods. These free radicals go around the body taking electrons from other molecules and creating more free radicals. The damage they do to the body, including cells, enzymes, and DNA, can lead to pain, inflammation, chronic diseases and aging. Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals before they cause cell damage by replacing the missing electron. Adding more antioxidant foods to your diet can help give you the antioxidant power to combat free radical damage. Bright colorful vegetables and fruits are one of the best sources for antioxidants. Carrots are full of beta carotene, tomatoes are full of lycopene, both of which help protect skin from damage and repair damaged cells. Studies show that pomegranates not only help protect skin, but according to Dr. Oz the juice is reported to also help lower high cholesterol and blood pressure levels, reduce the chances of atherosclerosis setting in and may even lower chances of Alzheimer’s. Berries are another good source of antioxidants and they also help the body produce collagen which helps you maintain youthful looking skin. The goji berry is a superfood giving you more vitamin C than oranges and carotenoids for antioxidant power. According to anti-aging expert and author, Nicholas Perricone, MD, it also has iron, 18 amino acids, calcium, magnesium, zinc, selenium, B vitamins and vitamin E, and triggers human growth hormone to be released in the body which means better sleep, a memory boost and improved immune system. Green tea is very high in catechin polyphenols that give you a big antioxidant punch. It also has EGCG that may help in preventing heart muscle damage and according to Amy Yee, PhD, a professor of biochemistry at Tufts University, studies show it may help reduce the risks of some types of cancer. There have also been studies such as one from Japan published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that indicate drinking a cup daily can help keep cognitive abilities functioning well as you age.
When starting on a healthy aging diet, besides getting in antioxidants, one of the best foods to add is those with omega-3 fatty acids. Nicholas Perricone, MD, author of 7 Secrets to Beauty, Health, and Longevity, lists the benefits of omega-3 as helping with mood stabilization, keeping bones strong, reducing inflammation, helping to keep skin youthful looking, and it aids the body’s enzymes in removing stored fat to use as energy. Wild salmon, nuts like walnuts, seeds such as chia, and AFA bluegreen algae are some of the best food sources for omega-3. Another way to get not only the omega-3’s and omega-6’s in the right balance, but also lots of antioxidants and other vital nutrients is with this program of convenient packets of whole food supplements with superfoods from the water, Earth and forests. From the forests come organically grown mushrooms from wild spores, from the Earth comes sprouts and grasses with phytonutrients, enzymes, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, folate, and fiber with the antioxidants in a form the body can easily absorb, and from the water dulse, kelp, fucoidan, Ecklonia cava, bladderwrack, Dunaliella salina, spirulina, chlorella and AFA bluegreen algae for a wide array of rich minerals and phytonutrients including over 60 micronutrients and 130 triterpenoids.
Other foods to include on your healthy aging diet are those that are high in water content. This would include foods such as melons, cucumbers, apples and peaches. These types of foods, as well as drinking plenty of fluids, help reduce wrinkles and keep the body hydrated. Avocados are another good food for helping skin stay youthful looking as they add to hydration, have oils that make skin tough and have the good monounsaturated fats that help fight off inflammation. Also make sure you include foods with the youthful skin supporting minerals zinc, copper and selenium in your healthy aging diet as well as soybean products such as soymilk, tofu, and edamame that according to Paula Simpson, BASc, RNCP, can help with slowing the aging process.
In addition to what you eat, consider how much you eat. Some of the oldest people in the world live in Okinawa, Japan and studies of their eating habits show they eat only until they are about 80 % full according to Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones. Research from St. Louis University supports this with their findings that people eating less calories showed lower amounts of T3 which is a hormone known to slow down metabolism and suspected to play a role in aging.
Deal With Stress
Stress can take a toll on body and mind and is something we all have to deal with in our fast-paced lives. Studies show stress triggers adrenaline and cortisol which increase blood pressure and heart rate and negatively impact physical and mental health. Herbert Benson, MD, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine in Boston, attributes between 60 and 90 percent of visits to the doctor as being related to conditions such as depression, anxiety, trouble sleeping, high blood pressure and heart attacks that are all results of stress. In his book, The Relaxation Response, he recommends a type of meditation that uses a mantra for even just 10 minutes a day to help relieve stress. Yoga is another way to help with stress relief and involves a type of breathing that can help strengthen awareness of the body and mind connection. Yoga breathing has been reported to help with getting more oxygen to cells, removing toxins from the body, increasing skin’s glow, and reducing the risk of illness. The poses used in yoga have been found to exercise your body inside and outside and have positive benefits especially for digestive, reproductive and immune systems.
Don’t wait for old age to hit and find yourself struggling through it. Start using some of these diet and lifestyle change tips now and prepare yourself for it. We can’t stop the clock from moving forward or stop ourselves from aging, but we can do our best to make our senior years enjoyable by staying healthy and promoting anti-aging techniques now.
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