There’s no escaping aging… but if you’re looking in the mirror and thinking that the person staring back at you is OLD, it might be time to take notice of what you’re eating as the effects of a bad diet can speed up aging.
Lifestyle choices (smoking and sun exposure come to mind) you’ve made can certainly impact how old you look, so too, it appears can your diet. An unhealthy eating pattern, beyond doing a number on your body, sends the aging process into high gear, so that you look years older than you are.
Experts tell us that poor quality foods such as trans fats bring on inflammation, and that aging is nothing more than the result of chronic inflammation.
And get this, too many processed carbs and sugars can bring the production of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) that are associated with heart disease, diabetes and can also do damage to collagen and the fibers of the skin itself. Eating more than we should of these foods encourages inflammation, clogs the arteries, packs on added weight… bad for your looks and your body.
Of course, you know the foods and drinks to limit in terms of healthy eating; but we’ll give you five of the worst offenders in terms of premature aging…
1. Alcohol, while some might prove beneficial to your heart, too much will load on the years without mercy. It appears there’s one good intake – one drink/day for women, two drinks a day for men. This level of drinking may, in fact, be beneficial for your heart. Any more and you’re aging yourself and increasing your risk of diseases associated with alcohol, like a liver disease as well as some cancers.
2. Bacon, Hot dogs, Pepperoni, in fact, all processed meats as they very high levels of saturated fats and have nitrates to boot. Both of these are known to add to the inflammatory processes of the body.
3. Chips and Fries, deep-fried using oil, these are loaded with trans fats that contribute to inflammation all over the body. Keep them to no more than 1% of daily intake.
4. Doughnuts and Pastries, rich in trans fats as well as loaded with sugar, are also tied to inflammation. These produce those aging AGEs we talked about earlier.
5. Non-Lean Red Meats. When eating meat go for the lean options as this means you get the nutritional benefit of meat, without the saturated fats, no friend to the arteries of the body, to be sure. You’ll want to keep total saturated fats to under 7% of daily calorie intake.
What you’re looking for is to be eating a diet that’s full of nutrient-rich foods that are able to bring down inflammation. While no one is about to recommend a particular “super food”, experts agree that the Mediterranean style diet often comes to mind as one that is linked to reductions in various illnesses linked with aging, heart disease, cancer, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Here are five foods you may want to ensure you’re eating…
1. Lentils are a great source of protein, fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. Black beans, limas, and pintos, as well as split peas, are all great choices. Our skin, being made essentially of protein, will reflect the amount of protein found in your diet.
2. Oatmeal, as a whole grain, has been shown to reduce inflammation. Other whole grains like whole wheat pieces of bread and pasta, brown rice, quinoa, and couscous are also important to our skin, rich sources of B vitamins. Deficiencies in the B vitamins can bring rashes and dry, scaly skin, so it’s important to be sure your diet naturally gives you enough.
3. Romaine Lettuce is high in vitamin A and C that help fight inflammation. You can also add broccoli, spinach, watercress, arugula, escarole and endive to that list.
4. Salmon (along with tuna and herring) is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that are known to battle inflammation.
5. Tomatoes are particularly good sources of antioxidant lycopene along with red cabbage, asparagus, guavas, grapefruit, and watermelon.
Rather than focusing your efforts on a few select foods, like those with high antioxidant content we often hear so much about, continue to keep your attention on the big picture.
Forget canceling out the effects of a bad diet by swapping your bad habits for a diet loaded with salmon or acai berries and eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods, as close to how nature intended them as you can, to keep body, mind and your looks together. This isn’t the opinion of a single expert, but a growing consensus of many sources.