This is a collaboration post.
Do you fear growing old? If so, you’re not alone. In fact, a recent survey revealed that around 87% of people in the US alone admitted that they were afraid of aging. And it’s not very hard to see why. We’ve been conditioned to see value pretty much exclusively in youth and beauty. Wherever we look, whether it’s on billboards that ring the high street, the sides of buses or the popups on our computers the advertising industry constantly bombards us with images of young, beautiful and carefree faces laughing and smiling as they enjoy a… whatever the product is that’s being advertised. Is it any wonder that even people in their twenties are now feeling old in an increasingly youth-obsessed society. Yet, the hangups we have about aging simply don’t bear scrutiny. We need to stop looking at the aging process of losing something, and need to see it as what it is… Just another step in our personal evolution.
The groups of active seniors out there will tell you that getting old is nothing to be afraid of. You can live an active and healthy life much like the one you enjoy now well into your sixties, seventies or even eighties and nineties. While there are some conditions to which we become more prone as we age, we can reduce our risk by a substantial margin by looking after our bodies now. We needn’t resign ourselves to immobility, weakness or even dementia. We can start chasing the fountain of youth right now… One plate at a time.
It starts and ends with food
It was Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, who said: “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Yet in an era where there seems to be a pill for everything, we seem to have neglected the important healing properties of the foods that enabled even generations that didn’t have the advantage of robust healthcare and scientific advancement to live to ripe old ages. That said, these prior generations didn’t have the plethora of temptation we have today. They weren’t beset on all sides by gaudily packaged salty sugary and fatty processed convenience foods which are as ubiquitous as they are unhealthy. While we can all make our own healthier versions of these foods, few of us take the time or effort to do so. Moreover, these bygone generations likely didn’t experience the same stress levels as we do today, nor did they spend quite so much time sitting. If you want an ageless body and mind whatever the date may say on your birth certificate, plate after plate of fresh healthy food is the best way to get there.
Feeding your mind
One of the most common concerns about the aging process is that as we age we’ll become more susceptible to mental fragility, losing our memories and even our personalities to degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. Of course, it’s understandable for people to feel sensitive about this, especially when there’s a history of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia in your family. But there’s no need to feel that flood of alarm every time you forget where you left your car keys. Even if you have a family history of dementia, it isn’t an inescapable fate that’s etched in your DNA. Loading your plate up with these crucial foods every each and every day can help you maintain your mental agility whatever your age and even keep dementia at bay…
Cruciferous vegetables- Broccoli, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts contain carotenoids that lower your levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that’s linked to cognitive impairment.
Legumes- Aside from being great clean protein sources, beans and peas contain essential minerals like folate, iron, magnesium, and potassium. These help to keep your neurons firing away optimally well into old age.
Spinach, kale and collard greens- Cheap, tasty, versatile and super duper nutritious, these should be on your plate for at least one meal a day. They are high in folate and vitamin B9, which can improve cognitive function and even help to keep depression at bay.
Whole grains- Even though I am a keto enthusiast I do like a few grains occasionally. By all means avoid while white bread, pastries, and sugary cereals, but quinoa and whole oats can promote stable blood sugar which is conducive to healthy brain activity.
Dark berries and cherries- Every day we come into contact with free radicals from sunlight and environmental pollutants which can lead to cellular damage. These tasty fruits, however, are packed full of anthocyanin, an antioxidant that protects brain cells from the damage they can cause.
Nuts, seeds and olive oil- These foods are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. These are an essential part of the Mediterranean diet and have long been known to significantly reduce your risk of developing the brain lesions that cause dementia.
Feeding your skin
For many of us, it’s not just enough to feel younger, we need to look younger too. Of course, there’s no shame in seeking ageless skin, but you’re unlikely to find it on the shelf of a drugstore. In skincare, as in all things, you are what you eat. We all know that smoking and drinking are anathemas for youthful skin but subsisting on a diet of fatty, sugary and processed foods won’t do your skin (or your health) and favors either. Load up on these nutrient-dense foods, however, and you’ll retain your youthful, glowing skin.
Nuts and seeds- All those Omega 3 fatty acids which will help your skin to retain moisture and stay full and firm. Pumpkin seeds, in particular, are high in zinc which boost immune function, making them great for those prone to acne or flare-ups of spots.
Leafy greens- Kale, bok choy and spinach won’t just aid your mind, among their many nutritious properties is chlorophyll which will improve circulation to your skin. This means that it will get more nutrients and oxygen, giving it that elusive healthy glow.
Berries- Remember how we talked about free radicals from the sun? These tiny tasty morsels are packed with antioxidants which will help to protect your skin against the aging effects of sun damage.
As you can see the same foods are great not only for ensuring youthful skin but an agile and healthy mind. Coupled with regular exercise and good hydration, a healthy diet can unlock a healthy and ageless future!