What you put in your mouth affects both your physical and mental functions. Ever wonder why you’ve gained or lost a few pounds for no obvious reason? Had one of those days where you can’t seem to remember a thing? Your diet may have something to do with it. Your diet also affects how you age. More specifically, it plays a part in whether you age gracefully or whether you show signs of early aging. While we cannot prevent time from moving forward, we can be proactive in reducing the physical and mental effects of aging. Certain foods can actually help you age slower.
While it’s not essential that you fully understand digestive and metabolic functions, understanding the basics can be helpful. Basically, all food and drink pass through the stomach, eventually ending up in your small intestine. Your small intestine breaks down everything that you eat and drink into its basic elements, including vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Your gut delivers the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from healthy foods into your body’s cells, which provide nourishment. Contrastly, when you eat junk, your cells – for the lack of a better term – feel like crap.
Your choice of food also affects the rate at which your metabolism either hums or sputters along.
For example, protein-rich foods give your metabolism a boost, while complex and refined carbs – as they are very difficult to break down – significantly slows your metabolism. When your metabolic rate is slow, you’re more at-risk for developing a myriad of health conditions – all of which are linked, directly or indirectly, to an impaired inflammatory response. In short, healthy food helps to keep your metabolism going. By contrast, junk food slows your metabolism – increasing inflammation, and promoting aging.
It all comes down to this: if you want to age slower, you first have to slow down inflammation and improve your metabolic health. People who show signs of aging too early in life often don’t bother with keeping inflammation in check.
THE ROLE OF FOOD IN AGING
“POOR-QUALITY FOODS, LIKE TRANS FATS, CAUSE INFLAMMATION – AND AGING IS BASICALLY A CHRONIC INFLAMMATORY STATE. CAN YOU LOOK OLDER BECAUSE YOU’RE EATING LIKE CRAP? ABSOLUTELY.” – TIMOTHY HARLAN, MD, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR AT TULANE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
Before we get to the five foods that make you age slower, let’s add another tool to your anti-aging toolkit by going over the foods to avoid at all costs! (Remember: “Prevention is the best medicine.”)
Stay away from the following:
- Deep-fried stuff: anything that is deep-fried is bad. This includes the pre-packaged stuff, like potato chips and French fries.
- Doughnuts and pastries: laced with fat, pastries contain a boatload of sugar. Excess sugar intake is tied to the early development of wrinkles.
- Fatty meats: also high in “sat fats,” fatty meats offer little in the way of nutritional value.
- Processed meats: most processed meat is high in saturated fat and nitrates; both accelerate inflammation and therefore aging.
- Too much booze: up to two drinks per day may be beneficial, but anything beyond an occasional couple of beers or glasses of wine causes early aging.
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