A nutrition guide to ageing well

Did you know that a healthy diet can help to slow the ageing process and give you clear and radiant skin?

While it’s true that genetics play a vital role in how we look and age, so too does our lifestyle.

While we cannot prevent the ageing process, there are certain things we can do to slow it down. It is well known that the foods we eat and what we drink influences how well we age.

Dietitians Anna and Alex, from The Biting Truth share their top secrets when it comes to what to eat to slow the ageing process.

1. Eat antioxidants from fresh fruit and vegetables

Antioxidants is a word you may be familiar with, but what actually are they?

Antioxidants are compounds that can prevent the harmful impacts of free radicals in the body. If free radicals are left to do their thing, they can cause damage to the body’s cells and tissues, and are linked to ageing and a host of diseases.

Dark green vegetables like spinach are packed with polyphenols and chlorophyll. These two antioxidants have been shown to be effective against inflammation, oxidative stress and DNA damage in the body. Another group of antioxidants is the carotenoids. These give fruits and vegetables like mangoes and pumpkin their bright orange/red colour. They work by supporting communication between cells in the body and have been shown to protect against many cancers and macular degeneration (a disease affecting the eyes that can cause loss of sight). When eaten, carotenoids accumulate in the skin and protect it from sun exposure, similarly to sunscreen. This can help prevent sunburn and subsequent damage causing dry and wrinkled skin. Research also suggests carotenoids are beneficial for the moisture, texture and elasticity of skin.

Vitamin C is another antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables that has other properties that are beneficial for healthy skin. Vitamin C stimulates the biosynthesis of collagen, a protein found in skin that gives it its elasticity and strength. Collagen degradation that occurs with ageing can lead to loss of elasticity and the formation of wrinkles. Research has shown that vitamin C can lessen wrinkle depth by increasing formation of collagen. Additionally, consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables (high in vitamin C) was found to improve skin tightness, tone and colour as well as decrease signs of ageing.

To reap the anti-ageing benefits of antioxidants, focus on including a range of colourful fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet.

2. Low Glycemic Index (GI) Foods

If you’re not familiar with GI, it’s a ranking given to carbohydrates in foods according to how they impact blood sugar levels. Blood sugar is important for providing our body (in particular our brain) with energy. We want our blood sugar levels to be stable so that our body and brain receive a steady amount of energy to carry out normal functions.

Foods with a low GI are slowly digested and absorbed in the body, which means they cause a gradual rise in blood sugar levels, providing a steady supply of energy. On the other hand, foods with a high GI are rapidly digested and absorbed causing a rapid rise and fall in blood sugar levels – aka a sugar crash. When our blood sugar levels are low, our brain sends messages to find foods that will give it energy (i.e. sugary foods)…and the cycle continues.

Following a diet that is rich in low GI foods is a sensible and sustainable way to eat. These foods promote steady blood sugar levels which will allow you to control your weight. Weight management is so important to minimise the onset of ageing and age related diseases.

3. Include omega-3 in your diet

Not all fats are created equal. Eating foods rich in healthy fats can protect your heart, brain, eyes, immune system and prevent dry skin and nails. Healthy fats provide your body with the nutrients it needs for smooth, glowing skin and healthy hair.

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential fatty acid that the human body cannot produce, meaning that we can only obtain them through our diet. They have a number of beneficial roles in the body, however, are particularly well known for their ability to reduce inflammation thus promoting healthy ageing. Studies have found that people with higher blood levels of omega-3s from seafood were more likely to live longer and healthier lives.

4. Drink plenty of H20

Dehydration can cause your skin to look dry and wrinkled as water plays a vital role in maintaining elasticity and suppleness.

The sensation of thirst also seems to decrease as you age, which leaves older people more vulnerable to dehydration.

Aim to drink 8–10 glasses of water each day, and remember that tea, coffee and alcohol are diuretics (substances that increase urine output), which can dehydrate your skin.

5. Protein

Protein is abundant in our bodies. After water, our body is mostly composed of proteins. Proteins are considered the building blocks of life and are needed to build our skin, nails, bones, hormones, muscles – everything!

Protein is also necessary to regenerate new tissue like healthy skin and nails and repair tissues. As we age this repair process occurs more regularly. Consuming adequate protein in the diet is essential as you age given it’s the body’s main tool to perform these repairs. The amino acids found in protein helps to maintain the skin’s elasticity and firmness, slowing down the visible signs of ageing.

A person typically loses about 50-100 strands of hair every day, and new strands continually replenish those lost strands. A poor diet can greatly impact how full and healthy your head of hair may be. Hair is made up of protein, so it stands to reason that nutritional deficiencies, especially insufficient protein, can lead to hair loss. If you want a full head of shiny, healthy hair, consuming adequate protein in your diet may help to strengthen the hair follicles.

6. Go easy on alcohol

While the occasional drink with friends might not be too harmful, evidence suggests there is a strong relationship between alcohol and ageing.

Drinking too much can cause wrinkly skin, redness, and a dry complexion – and that’s only the beginning. If you want to keep looking and feeling young, it’s probably time to start drinking less alcohol.

Alcohol is a known diuretic, which means it dehydrates the body – including the skin.  Alcohol also causes inflammation in our cells, promoting premature ageing. It can also affect the way some vital organs work and make them age faster.

One of the best things you can do for your all-around health and appearance is to drink less alcohol.

Bottom Line

The way we choose to nourish our bodies can either support or hinder healthy ageing. Following this guide will not only improve the health and complexion of your skin, it will also improve the quality of your diet and do wonders for your health!

Thanks for reading, we look forward to sharing more nutrition tips with you!

Anna & Alex

The Biting Truth

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