Foods to Keep You Young
You are what you eat. Some foods can help you stay young, while others make you old. Remember that calories count, so keep your body weight at a healthy level. Excess bodyfat is toxic in many ways, promoting cancer, heart disease, diabetes and aging. It makes you look older, too.
You can control many of your aging processes with what you eat. Food affects your brain as well as your body. This, in turn, affects how you feel, your performance, your health, your joy. You'll do better choosing the proper foods and avoiding the wrong ones. Our bodies are being constantly rebuilt, and the food we eat is our raw material. Imagine food as fuel for your body. If you put the incorrect gas in your car, it will need repairing. Well, the same goes for our bodies. Making a lifestyle change isn't about self-denial, or ignoring cravings. As you treat your body well, most of the interest in unhealthy indulgences will just drift away -- as though it never existed -- replaced by a life that's much better.
Eating and living properly benefits you way down at the cellular level, where free-radical damage is the most significant reason we age. Free radicals come mainly from our diets, but also from exercise and the environment. Free radicals, which are byproducts of oxygen use by the cells, take electrons from cell. This causes damage. Antioxidants, such as Vitamins C and E and beta-carotene, can provide the missing electrons, sparing damage to the cells. Neutralizing and/or reducing free radicals produces a positive effect in your health and against aging.
Free-radical damage may also be involved in cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, cataracts, hypertension and many immune problems. A diet high in antioxidant foods can help protect you from these diseases that are associated with aging.
In addition to antioxidants, phytonutrients – or plant nutrients – protect your body against numerous ailments. Different foods have different phytonutrients, which is why you need a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds and nuts. Fish and low-fat milk also have nutrients for your health. You can’t get the optimum mix from supplements. Some supplements may help, but you need real food.
Eat & Stay Younger
Foods that keep you healthy also help you stay young. Nothing ages you more than debilitating disease. These are foods to focus on. Don’t limit yourself to these, however. Have a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and other foods.
- Cruciferous vegetables. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and their cousins contain special antioxidants that help stave off cell damage and may help prevent cancer. Broccoli sprouts are even better. Try for a serving of cruciferous vegetables each day.
- Citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruit, lemons and other citrus are loaded with Vitamin C, fiber, folate and other nutrients. Again, aim for a serving or more a day, preferably whole fruit.
- Yellow-orange fruits and vegetables. Many of these foods, including apricots, cantaloupe, carrots and sweet potatoes, have beta-carotene, a carotenoid that serves as an antioxidant, protects against diseases and may slow down the aging process. Canned pumpkin is full of antioxidants.
- Oatmeal and whole-oat cereals or breads. Whole oats provide long-lasting energy along with soluble fiber that helps improve cholesterol. Plain oatmeal is still one of the best buys in the supermarket.
- Walnuts, almonds, pecans. A handful of nuts each day provides omega-3 fatty acids and other essential fats. These help your body fight inflammation as well as keeping your skin and hair healthy.
- Flaxseed and flaxseed oil. Another great source of omega-3 fatty acids. This good fat promotes cardiovascular health and fights inflammation. With the oil, a tablespoon a day is generally recommended, but I find that 2 tablespoons provides much more benefit.
- Whole-grain products. Whole wheat and other grains have more nutrients and fiber and are better for your health and for weight control. Check labels for 2 or more grams of fiber per serving, and look for whole wheat or another whole grain as the first ingredient listed.
- Blueberries. One of the highest fruits for antioxidants, and great for your brain. Cranberries, raspberries and strawberries are also on a recent Top 20 antioxidant list from the United States Department of Agriculture.
- Apples. Can an apple a day keep the doctor away? Apples are proven to aid in weight control, so enjoy one or more a day, especially if you have trouble getting your five-a-day servings of produce. This popular fruit provides nutrients and fiber in a handy natural package. Red delicious, Granny Smith and gala apples are on the Top 20 list. Eat them with the skin.
- Low-fat milk products, including yogurt. Adults may think of milk as kids’ stuff, but it has nutrients that adults need, especially as they get a little older. It provides calcium for stronger bones, along with riboflavin, Vitamin D and protein. If you don’t get calcium from foods, be sure to get it from supplements.
- Fish. Fish provide lean protein, and fatty cold-water fish like salmon also have omega-3s and Vitamin D. But choose wild fish. Farmed fish don’t have the same nutrients, and may have toxic elements. You can also use canned salmon. I suggest you have salmon 3 to 4 times a week.
- Beans. The once-scorned bean is now a health food, full of good fiber, good carbs and antioxidants. Four types of beans are on the Top 20 antioxidant foods list. Legumes (beans and peas) are part of the famous DASH diet (for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The diet recommends 4-5 servings a week of legumes, nuts and seeds. They help control blood sugar and appetite.
- Cherry tomatoes and other tomato products. These – along with watermelon and pink grapefruit -- contain lycopene, which helps protect again certain cancers. Watermelon is a beauty food and will help you have radiant skin.
- Other colorful fruits and vegetables. Yellow, orange, purple and green fruits and vegetables have a variety of phytochemicals that help protect against aging and some diseases. Lutein, for example, found in kiwi and dark green vegetables like spinach (as well as egg yolk), can help protect vision.
- Onions and garlic. They may improve your cholesterol and boost your immune system.
- Soy. These foods, including soynuts, edamame and tofu, also contain protective phytochemicals. They can lower your cholesterol and triglycerides, decrease cancer risk and ease the symptoms of menopause.
- Tea. Green tea especially has catechins that may be cancer-protective.
- Dark chocolate, not milk chocolate. Have an ounce a day, from dark cocoa, which has more antioxidants.
- Pure water. Drink lots of it each day – eight or more 8-ounce glasses.