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The skin is our largest organ and our first defence to the outside world. We need to take care of it as it will start showing signs of ageing with fine lines and wrinkles. Although some of our skin ageing process is genetic the major cause of skin ageing is actually down to the external environment and multiple stresses that our skin can be exposed to daily.
Unfortunately we can’t stop the clock on the ageing process, as we get older, the body’s machinery begins to function a little less smoothly and we become susceptible to age-related and degenerative diseases. But there are certain foods that can help counteract the negative effects ageing has on the body. They won’t make you younger or stop you from getting older, but they can improve your overall health and vitality, and protect you against disease and illness, which could prolong your life.
Berries of all types, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, strawberries, are all super rich in antioxidants, such as flavonols and anthocyanins, which promote cell health and can protect against disease. Anthocyanins in particular, found in large quantities in blackberries, are thought to help protect against cancer and diabetes. Darker berries, especially ones that are black or blue in colour, tend to provide the best anti-aging benefits because they have the highest concentration of antioxidants.
According to some studies, blueberries may even help slow or reverse neurological degeneration, improve memory, restrict the growth of cancer cells and reduce inflammation. They are also good for urinary tract health.
Berries are also an excellent source of vitamins, especially vitamin C, which is good for your skin. Vitamin C helps repair damaged body tissues and has been linked to skin cancer prevention.
Eating fish or taking fish oil supplements, provides the body with omega-3 fatty acids that help protect against heart disease, helps your body regenerate healthy cells, reduce inflammation, decrease the risk of arrhythmia and lower blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids are found largely in cold-water fish, including salmon, herring, tuna and sardines. They help skin look youthful by producing and regulating sebum levels which helps skin appear more youthful and hydrated.
Another good source of omega-3 fatty acids is nuts. Apart from this and the protein they provide, they are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including potassium, which helps lower blood pressure, vitamin E, which helps prevent cell damage, and calcium to maintain strong bones.
Vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, K and E. Studies have shown that a diet full of vegetables can help prevent cardiovascular disease, lower high blood pressure and, after a heart attack or stroke, lower cholesterol and unclog arteries. They’re also great for the immune system, helping the body fortify itself against sickness and disease.
Selenium is a trace mineral that contains an enzyme called glutathione that plays a major part in protecting our body from cellular damage that causes inflammation and ageing. Although selenium is available as a supplement, it is found in meat, grain cereals, egg yolk, milk, brazil nuts, mushrooms, garlic and seafood, so with a balanced healthy diet you should be able to get your requirements of this mineral.
Avocados are a fruit that has long been hailed for its anti-aging properties. Avocados with their vitamin E, potassium, monounsaturated fats and antioxidants provide a good mix of anti ageing properties. The vitamins and minerals in avocados have been shown to reduce cholesterol, improve skin health and lower blood pressure. They are also rich in folic acid (vitamin B), which have been linked to heart attack prevention and reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Avocados also contain a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid which has been shown to lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol and protect against blood clots. They’re proven to act as antioxidants and combat the effects of overexposure to the sun. They are a good source of vitamin C which can boost levels of collagen, which plumps out wrinkles and fine lines naturally.
Eating whole grains is good for your digestive system and it’s the fibre that helps rid the body of unwanted substances, such as bad cholesterol and fats. Fibre also helps to control your appetite, keep blood sugar low and they are rich in vitamins and minerals which in themselves have anti ageing benefits.
Beans also contain fibre but are also rich in antioxidants, and all sorts of vitamins and minerals, including iron, vitamin B and potassium. The added benefit of being a good source of low fat protein therefore good as part of a balanced diet and especially good for those non meat eaters.
Along with all these foods a very important must is water, for without sufficient water in your body, your cells get congested, your skin can’t detox, and your bladder and kidneys won’t work properly, you’ll feel tired and eat more.
And don’t forget regular aerobic exercise is a must-do for anyone committed to slowing down the ageing process. Hundreds of studies show that exercise combats the loss of stamina, muscle strength, balance and bone density that increases with age.
So if you feel trying to juggle all these foods to form a good anti ageing diet is giving you worry lines, leave it to your personal trainer who can tailor a program and a diet to suit your lifestyle.