By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
Everyone ages, the question, therefore, is not will you age, but how will you age? Will you suffer from chronic pain and inflammation, develop diseases such as dementia, diabetes, and cancer, lose your mental capacities or your ability to walk and run? Or will you remain in good health with good posture, retain a great state of mind and mental clarity, keep balanced hormones and healthy relationships?
The truth is, the choice is yours, and it is exactly that: a choice. If you are determined to live a long life with your body and energy at their fullest potential, you can do so! However, there are no magic creams or pills that will prevent you from showing signs of aging. The secret to aging gracefully and successfully lies in a series of healthy diet and lifestyle choices which we will outline below.
What is Aging?
Disease, dementia, cancer, loose saggy skin, slowed brain function, slow and weakened body: these are NOT predetermined signs of aging! These are the consequences of the Standard American diet (SAD) and lifestyle that have been normalized by our society. Recent discoveries have shown that inflammation, the shortening of your telomeres, and mitochondrial deterioration are what control the aging process.
What Causes Aging?
Inflammation causes the diseases and health decline that are hallmark symptoms of aging, which can eventually lead to autoimmune disease and cancer. This can be combated by finding the root cause of inflammation (commonly diet-related) and taking steps to prevent it.
Telomeres sit at the end of our DNA, and their length is related to our biological age (different from our chronological age, which counts birthdays, your biological age is how old your body is in relationship to your health). Telomeres are shortened by unhealthy habits such as smoking, and eating inflammatory foods.
Our mitochondria produce 95% of our energy, in the form of ATP, but the byproduct of the energy production is harmful free radicals which cause damage to the mitochondria. Science has shown certain foods, as well as the enzyme CoQ10, to be powerful in defending against free radical damage.
How to Age Successfully
We are able to curtail disease, wrinkles, and a general decline in health through taking proper care of our bodies. A big part of preventing disease and deterioration as you age is dependent on your diet. The following foods are just some of the many healthy options we have that are full of the nutrients and minerals vital for good health and longevity:
Bright colored fruits and veggies provide beta-carotene and vitamin A, which protect against cellular damage and premature aging. They are also great for your skin and eyes, meaning less wrinkles and better vision. These include: bell peppers, carrots, sweet potato, and broccoli.
Leafy greens, such as spinach, collard greens, lettuce, and kale, contain several top antioxidants. Lutein and zeaxanthin have been shown to reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. Beta-carotene, vitamin C, and sulforaphane are cancer-fighting antioxidants present in leafy greens. The folate in spinach improves your short-term memory and might even lower the risk of developing heart disease and cancer. Vitamin K1 is found in collard and salad greens, which is linked to vascular health, strong bones, prevention of heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease, and can treat certain cancers.
Eggs also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, making them an unexpected friend of your eyes. They are a natural source of vitamin D, as well as choline, which protects your brain, nervous system, and heart. Be sure to buy organic, pastured eggs for all the benefits they have to offer!
Blueberries are chock-full of antioxidant power. By fighting oxidative stress, blueberries can help neutralize the damage caused by free radicals. They help reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and arthritis while boosting your vision and immune system!
Citrus contains vitamin C, which helps your body produce collagen. Collagen is responsible for healthy joints as well as tight, healthy skin. The quercetin in citrus has anti-aging properties and also helps fight inflammation.
You are what you eat, so if your goal is to be healthy and thriving in old age, the food choices you make today need to be healthy ones. Luckily, these foods are not only dense in important nutrients, they are also delicious!