Forget facelifts and other forms of plastic surgery. The key to anti-aging is simple: Eat healthy foods.
Food can have a radical anti-aging effect, keeping your body lean and strong, skin vibrant and taut, and mind cranking. That’s because what you eat affects the systems in your body that lead to aging and dysfunction. Here are ten foods to eat to feel and look amazing.
#1: Salmon & Other Low Pollution Fish
Fish consistently show up in diets that are associated with a long and healthy life due to their high-quality protein content and excellent dose of omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA. These fats promote longevity by eradicating inflammation and improving a whole cascade of hormones from cortisol to insulin.
Fish oil has also been found to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol—a hormone that compromises immune function and is consistently associated with accelerated aging and disease.
One increasing problem is pollution and mercury accumulation in fish. Wild salmon and tilapia, sardines, and Atlantic mackerel are some of the safest fish. Canned salmon is your best bet for canned fish because it tends to be wild caught whereas canned tuna has some of the highest mercury content.
#2: Nuts: Almonds, Walnuts & Brazil Nuts
Nuts are the perfect anti-aging food, being rich in fiber, antioxidants, protein, and healthy fats. Specific anti-aging effects include the following:
Walnuts provide protective polyphenols that reduce cortisol following a stress test. Researchers believe the combination of antioxidants and omega-3s in walnuts allow for improved hormone and neurotransmitter function.
Brazil nuts are high in selenium, which is a compound that enables the enzymes needed for regulation of the endogenous antioxidant, glutathione-a key regulator of aging and immune function.
Almonds are rich in vitamins B and E and have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
Many people still think of coffee as a guilty pleasure that is better avoided. In fact, coffee is one of the most exciting anti-aging foods available to you! Studies show regular coffee drinking has incredible protective effects against diabetes, cardiovascular disease, neurodegeneration, and cancer.
Most important, a large-scale 14-year study of more than 400,000 people found that the more coffee people drank, the lower the risk of mortality. Men who drank 2 to 3 cups a day had a 10 percent lower risk of mortality, and those who drank 4 to 5 cups per day had a 12 percent lower risk. Drinking 6 or more cups decreased mortality by another 10 percent compared to non-drinkers. The figures were slightly higher in women, and they remained after adjusting for cofounders like age, body fat, race, education, and lifestyle factors. Why is coffee so healthy?
It’s jam packed with the antioxidants caffeic and chlorogenic acid, which eradicate inflammation. The caffeine appears to have a protective effect on the brain, increasing cognition and reducing your risk of Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease.
#4: Whey Protein
Whey protein is a superior anti-aging food because it enhances the body’s internal antioxidant system by increasing levels of glutathione. Whey protein also has anti-microbial activity and contains a full line up of easily absorbed amino acids for muscle and bone building.
Studies have found regularly taking whey protein can increase insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance in diabetics—an effect that resulted in a small but significant body fat loss. Other studies show whey supplementation may reduce blood pressure and improve LDL cholesterol markers for less risk of cardiovascular disease.
#5: Tart Cherries
Tart cherries are extremely delicious and studies show it can significantly enhance sleep quality by raising melatonin, the primary hormone that induces sleep and aids in the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythm. Since melatonin is both water- and fat-soluble, it moves easily through cell membranes, allowing it to eradicate free radicals that damage tissue and DNA that cause aging.
Additionally, melatonin protects cellular mitochondria, the energy producing factories within cells. Mitochondria are one of the first things to take a hit as aging occurs in the body, making their protection a key component for a long, healthy life.
#6: Bone Broth
A reduction in collagen (a specialized protein that is found in skin and connective tissue) is the primary reason you get wrinkles and skin begins to sag as you age. Fortunately, research has found that supplementing with 2.5 grams a day of collagen for 8 weeks can increase skin elasticity in older women for healthier, younger looking skin.
One of the best ways to get more usable collagen in your diet is with bone broth. The body breaks collagen down into peptides during digestion, which is the form that has been found to increase a variety of markers of healthy skin in studies.
For the maximum anti-aging effect, make your bone broth from raw bones to avoid denaturing the collagen.
#7: Organic Beef & Poultry
Most nutritional protocols for longevity recommend people avoid meat. There are various reasons for this: Some cite the acid load associated with a high meat intake, others claim too much protein is bad for you, others blame it on the saturated fat content in meat and the outcome of the Seven Countries Study.
The reality is that as long as the rest of your diet is stellar (lots of vegetables, a variety of healthy fats, and reasonable complex carbs for your activity levels), high-quality protein is a powerful anti-aging food.
First, protein provides the amino acid building blocks for the body to preserve muscle mass and maintain healthy connective tissue and bone. A number of studies show that muscle mass is a key indicator of longevity and people with greater lean mass who get life-threatening diseases have a better prognosis than those with less.
Second, the more high-quality protein you eat, the less dangerous abdominal fat you have—a type of fat that secretes inflammatory factors that damage DNA and harm health.
Third, a greater protein intake improves elimination from the body so that your body readily gets rid of waste products. Detoxification is hampered by aging and inflammation, making high-quality protein essential as you get older. In fact, getting adequate protein can upregulate protein synthesis and elimination pathways—both key components of an anti-aging lifestyle.
All the dark-colored berries and fruits (pomegranate, strawberries, blackberries, plums, etc.) are anti-aging foods. Blueberries just happened to be one of the most studied fruits, which is why they make this list.
Animal studies show blueberry polyphenols can extend lifespan by improving the body’s natural antioxidant defense system and reducing free radical damage. Human studies show these protective effects translate into healthier blood pressure, greater insulin sensitivity, better heart function, and a younger, smarter brain.
Include berries with higher carb foods because the combination makes you more insulin sensitive and slows the blood sugar response. It also increases your blood antioxidant level. One study found that for the average 500-calorie meal, a serving-and-a-half of antioxidant-rich fruits or veggies is necessary in order to prevent inflammation.
Garlic is one of the most powerful anti-aging foods. It is protective for almost every system in the body that gets degraded over a lifespan. There’s strong evidence that eating garlic daily can lower cholesterol, improve blood pressure, and has a cancer fighting effect.
Best of all, garlic has been found to increase calorie use in the body by raising the ratio of brown fat to white fat (brown fat is considered “good” and white “bad”). Animal studies show garlic is particularly effective in reducing fat gain from a high-fat diet that is intended to cause obesity.
Use fresh garlic with all meals. Consider trying raw garlic to get a larger dose of active compounds during times of increased stress or not-so-hot eating habits.
Being a savvy consumer, you probably wonder if chocolate truly has any health-promoting powers. Good news is that super dark chocolate that provides a high dose of flavanols has a boatload of anti-aging benefits:
- Improves vascular health by increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation.
- Aids gut health and improves digestion.
- Improves metabolic hormone balance of insulin and was shown to be a powerful stress reducer.
Science hasn’t identified an optimal chocolate dose, but a good bet is a square or two of dark chocolate that is more than 70 percent cocoa solids because this will be higher in the protective polyphenols. Check the label and make sure there are no chemicals, fake sweeteners, or high fructose corn syrup in your chocolate.
Can you check off all these anti-aging foods on this list?
If so, you’re well on your way to a long, energetic (and youthful looking) life.