The Foundation for Youthful Living
With the increasing age of the population, due to the baby boomer generation reaching retirement age, many are looking for the secret to youthful living. Luckily, there is a lot of emerging research about the best way to age gracefully by optimizing your nutrition.
What Causes Aging?
Aging is essentially cellular damage caused by a combination of lifestyle choices and the environment. It is a result of the build-up of cellular damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced naturally by the body via multiple metabolic processes. Ideally, the body should be able to neutralize these free radicals before they are able to cause excessive damage.
But, poor lifestyle choices speed up the creation of free radicals. These lifestyle factors include excessive sugar, alcohol, caffeine, sunlight, pollution, and environmental toxins. The accumulation of free radicals over time leads to a condition called oxidative stress which exacerbates aging and increases the risk of multiple chronic diseases.1
There is hope to slow the aging process by supporting the body in neutralizing free radicals. Antioxidants do exactly what their name implies, they are “anti” oxidation. Basically, they donate an oxygen molecule to the free radicals which neutralizes their damaging effects.2 Antioxidants are the secret to longevity.
A Healthy Diet to Neutralize Free Radicals
The most effective way to slow free radicals is to eat a healthy diet loaded with antioxidants. The Mediterranean Diet, based on a high intake of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and fish, has been found to be particularly high in antioxidants.
But, there are many specific nutrients that are considered powerful antioxidants and should be added to any anti-aging lifestyle plan:
- Turmeric contains a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant called curcumin. It has been found to support joint, skin, brain, and gut health.3
- CoQ10 is a vitamin-like nutrient with antioxidant properties. Adequate levels of CoQ10 may help lower the risk of heart disease.4
- Collagen is the main structural protein of the skin, which begins to degrade as you age. It also has antioxidant properties to protect skin and joints.5
- Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant that may play a role in mitigating oxidative damage caused by elevated blood sugar and therefore improving symptoms related to diabetes.6
- Vitamins A, C, and E are the common antioxidant vitamins found in colorful fruits and vegetables. Vitamin A, in the form of beta carotene, is particularly prevalent in orange-colored plant foods. Vitamin C is found in strawberries, citrus, and bell peppers. While rich sources of vitamin E include avocado, nuts, and sunflower seeds.7
- Selenium is a mineral with antioxidant properties found to possibly reduce the risk of cancer and other illnesses linked to oxidative stress.8
A healthy diet loaded with antioxidants provides the foundation of youthful living. These nutrients protect and help maintain health throughout life. The easiest way to boost your antioxidant intake is through a diet high in fruits and vegetables, while limiting foods that trigger the formation of free radicals. Supporting your health with diet will help you maximize your well-being into retirement and beyond
- Pharmacogn Rev. 2010;4(8):118-126.
- Antioxidants: In Depth. NCCIH. June 1, 2010.
- Nutr Today. 2010;45(5):216.
- Coenzyme Q10. NCCIH. May 4, 2018.
- J Sci Food Agric. 2009;89(10):1722-1727.
- Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 2015;93(12):1021-1027.
- Super Foods for Optimal Health. WebMD. October 22, 2008.
- Trends Biochem Sci. 2014;39(3):112-120.
- Tags: Wellness
- Blog Contributor