Let’s face it, getting older isn’t as glamorous as they portray it to be. Growing old gracefully is not for the light-hearted. It takes some grit.

People are living longer and they want to feel better for longer.

A high quality of life becomes more and more important as you age because, depite all the most clever scientific advances,  we cannot stop the aging process. The good news is that there is more and more evidence that we can reverse the damage that causes rapid aging to progress.

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Why worry about reversing damage?

Aging occurs as a result of cell death. Telomeres are the protective caps on the ends of our chromosomes.

As we age, telomeres shorten. Shorter telomeres have been linked with a variety of chronic diseases, usually thought of as age-related.

You may be concerned because you have a family history of “bad genes” and you’re destined to your family medical history. But according to Dean Ornish, MD, UCSF clinical professor of medicine and founder and president of the Preventative Medicine Research Institute, we know now that “our genes and our telomeres, are not necessarily are not our fate”.

There is a whole science to the study of how our lifestyle influences our genes known as “Epigenetics”.

How diet contributes to aging

Researchers have found that a daily routine of an improved diet, regular exercise and meditation can actually reverse aging cells! Today we’re going to focus on diet.

A study from The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicates a diet high in whole foods, fruits, vegetables and plant-based proteins, fish, lean meats and low in refined carbohydrates can contribute to longer telomere length by providing antioxidative and anti-inflammatory effects. On the other hand, diets that produce inflammation in the body will lead to shorter telomeres.

Clean Eating vs Standard Diet

Eating “clean” may be new terminology for you however from the dawn of man, people have been practicing clean eating. Think of a native islander’s diet or the diet of the native Indians.

Now think of what is available to us now.

Since the industrial revolution, food manufacturers have been trying to figure out ways to extend the life of food, make food taste better, look more appealing, produce for the masses and market to target audiences. We now see an increase in processed foods in industrialized nations.

In the past few decades the results have been apparent in our health risks with drastically increased disease rates.

The problem with processed foods is that they contain a multitude of preservatives and additives. These chemicals cause inflammation in the body and inflammation contributes to decreased telomere length and therefore rapid aging.

clean eating_2Meats and dairy products can be very “unclean” if the animal is raised with hormones, antibiotics and fed highly processed foods.

Boxed foods such as boxed pasta meals, rice mixes with flavor packages, some cereals, chips, cookies, ice cream, cakes and other “junk” foods are highly processed and laden with chemicals.

A 2014 article in the Food and Nutrition Magazine explains that eating a higher plant-based diet that is high in folate, antioxidants such as Vitamin C, Vitamin E and the mineral Selenium, Omega-3 fatty acids, and Vitamin D is associated with longer telomeres.

Clean eating + influencers of telomere length = a powerful damage reversal strategy

Eating food in its most natural form is essential: Foods such as fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, beans, other legumes and grains undergo minimal processing. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals.

Eating a colorful variety: this ensures you get different essential nutrients.

Eat lots of leafy greens for folate and magnesium: Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Get adequate Omega-3 fatty acids by eating walnuts, flax seed and oily fish. The best kind of Vitamin D is the kind you get from short exposure to early morning sun.

When shopping, select foods that are locally grown and organic. Avoid foods that are highly refined and processed. Cook your own meals.

When you eat foods you prepare, you have much more control of what goes into your body and you’ll enjoy them more.

6 Reasons to start eating clean

1. Eating clean, wholesome foods will allow you to get the nutrients your body needs to function optimally in its ability to reverse the damage.

2. Eating clean helps your body maintain a healthy weight more easily.

3. Eating clean ensures you are getting adequate fiber in your diet to keep your digestive tract in tip-top shape.

4. Eating clean helps you stay fuller for longer because of the fiber and nutrients you are getting in the whole food products you are eating.

5. When you get all the nutrients you need with clean foods, you will be less likely to crave food.

6. Eating clean ensures your body’s detoxification system is not overburdened which, studies have shown, leads not only to rapid aging, health risks and weight gain but also to not being able to lose the weight you gain.

No one likes the idea of getting older or slowing down but dragging your heels on this whole aging process isn’t the answer.

Eating clean can help reverse the damage that excels the aging process. With a little planning, some creativity and the feeling you will notice in your energy level, there’s no reason not to start eating clean now!

Connect with Expert Lisa Meisels and visit her blog.

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