Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus.See all posts »
We all want that magical plan that will allow us to grow old gracefully, minimizing wrinkles, preserving our memory, and keeping us healthy, too. Does diet really have an impact? I may be a little biased, but I think so! Of course, other lifestyle factors like smoking, exercise, sleep, stress, and more can also affect the way we age pretty dramatically. I can’t guarantee a wrinkle-free body for life, but I will share with you the research on diet and aging that seems to be fairly strong.
Much of what causes wrinkles, chronic diseases, and mental decline have to do with inflammation in our body. The best defense is going to be an antioxidant and phytonutrient-rich diet. You have heard me talk about it before—the power of these substances is huge! Foods rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals help reduce the free radical damage to the cells, keeping them healthy for the long term.
On the flip side, foods high in sugar, refined starch, saturated fat, and trans fat may accelerate aging by promoting inflammation when insulin levels rise in response to eating these foods.
What to eat
Fruits and vegetables. Any fruit or vegetable is food, but look for those high in antioxidants like berries, grapes, spinach, broccoli, legumes, artichokes, peppers, potatoes, and citrus fruits. Try some of the hot trendy fruits like pomegranate Try to get 8-10 servings of fruits and/or vegetables total per day (or more than 5 cups).
Whole grains. They are packed in phytonutrients, fiber, and other important vitamins and minerals. Think outside the box and try some new whole grains like quinoa, barley, buckwheat, corn, and don’t forget oats. Try to get half of your grain servings as whole grains, or at least 3 servings per day.
Water. Water is our most essential nutrient—we would die within days to weeks without fresh water. It is good for your entire body, from your organs inside your body to your largest organ, your skin! Women should get 72 ounces of fluid daily and men 100 ounces.
Beans, beans, and more beans. The type of beans I am talking about are the legumes, which are the black beans, chickpeas, lentils, split peas, pinto beans, kidney beans, etc. The are full of high quality protein, soluble fiber, and essential B vitamins.
Low fat dairy. Milk is great, but think also low sugar yogurt, kefir, and low fat cheese. Everyone should get at least 2-4 servings per day.
Fish. The omega-3 fatty acids in fish have been shown to help reduce inflammation. Try to get at least 6 ounces per week. Look for fatty fishes like salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, and sardines.
Here’s to aging beautifully and healthfully!
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