Throughout our lifespan from infancy to old age, our body goes through various significant physical and physiological changes.
However, lifestyle factors such as smoking habits tend to predispose some individuals to a more rapid ageing process than others.
Poor eating habits and low physical activity are also some of the triggers of accumulation of toxins in the functioning of the cells, leading to reduced tissue functioning and noticeable ageing.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
As with the obesity crisis, more and more individuals are seeking easy alternatives in the form of magic pills to slow down, stopping or reversing the ageing process.
Whilst there’s no magic pill that can smooth away the wrinkles and grant the vigour of an 18 year old, a healthy lifestyle, including a number of food vitamins and minerals can help you slow down the process.
Here are some dietitian approved tips to help you age gracefully!
Choose fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene and Vitamin C
Vegetables rich in beta-carotene such as: carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, among others are high in anti-oxidants, carotenoids and vitamin A.
Anti-oxidants have shown to lessen the damage caused by free-radicals in the body. Moreover they have shown to benefit heart health and immunity while promoting formation of healthy scar tissue and improved wound healing.
Vitamin C foods such as citrus fruits and squash plays a major role in the production of collagen, a protein that promotes cellular regeneration and in so doing reduces wrinkles caused by the ageing process.
An orange a day is the recommended daily intake of vitamin C, so why buy costly Vitamin C supplements?
Berries are also great low calorie fruit choices as they are packed with anti-oxidants.
Tea has been widely studied for its numerous health benefits as tea contain polyphenols, especially cathechins, that may stimulate activity of specific cells to combat viruses.
Polyphenols and Catechins are effective scavengers of reactive oxygen species commonly known as free radicals. Moreover caffeine in tea (tea also contains some caffeine) has also been proved to protect against skin cancer.
The secret ingredient to ward off those wrinkles is lycopene, a carotenoid, released predominantly during the cooking process.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant, which can reduce the inflammatory response to UV damage by neutralizing harmful molecules that are produced in the skin as a result.
Sun damage from UV exposure includes premature wrinkles and skin cancer.
Vitamin D Foods
Vitamin D is most commonly acknowledged for the uptake of calcium and phosphorus in bones. However in addition to its overall health benefits, Vitamin D also plays a critical role in skin protection and rejuvenation.
As vitamin D receptors are directly involved in cell proliferation and promotion of a healthy immune system, in the absence of adequate vitamin D, the epidermal cells won’t differentiate optimally.
Consequently the outer skin layer may become thinner, more fragile and dry, accounting for the increase of wrinkles.
Sources of Vitamin D include exposure to the sun, consuming food enriched with vitamin D, choosing oily fish such as fresh or canned salmon and tuna.
Whilst lack of exposure to sun has shown to cause a drop in serotonin (feel good factor hormone) hormone leading to food cravings and depression, an excessive exposure to sunlight can also lead to acceleration of skin ageing and skin cancer.
Moderation is key!
Decrease saturated fat and increase poly and mono unsaturated fats
Consumption of high saturated fat as well as refined carbohydrates has shown to increase ageing.
Moreover increasing evidence suggests that a diet high in saturated fat is linked to a number of health conditions including poor skin, cholesterol build up and other health complications.
Choose better fat sources such as oily fish, avocado, olive oil as heart- friendly alternatives.
Oily fish such as salmon, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, has also been shown to help to decrease body inflammation, a major cause of accumulation of free-radicals in the body.
Additionally it contains tryptophan a precursor to serotonin hormone associated with mood regulation and diminished depression.
Brazil nuts are the highest food source of selenium a powerful mineral, a key to influencing DNA synthesis and many thyroid functions.
High in anti-oxidants, it neutralizes free-radicals and consequently prevents the skin from ageing prematurely.
Moreover due to it anti-inflammatory properties, selenium minerals have a calming effect on inflamed irritated skin. 1-2 Brazil nut provides the recommended daily intake of selenium for the day.
Other sources include seafood, organs and dairy products.
Vitamin E rich food sources
Vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin, is perhaps the most well known vitamin that is essential for healthy skin. Some properties of Vitamin E make it an effective antioxidant that combats free radicals in the body.
Free radicals, commonly due to our everyday environment such as smoking, pollution and stress, are unstable molecules that react with the cellular membrane, leading to appearance of early signs of ageing such as age spots and wrinkles.
Food sources of Vitamin E include: olives, sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds, wheat germ and leafy greens.
Beat the stress!
Whilst some amount of stress is deemed healthy, an excessive everyday stress can however provides us with more disadvantages than advantages.
Stress increases the release of cortisol in the body, leading to increased body inflammation, accounting for a rise in free radicals in the body. As mentioned above, Vitamin C helps maintain the collagen in our skin.
However excessive stress often leads to a depletion of the vitamin C stores.
Exercise and stay hydrated!
Countless studies have shown that physical activity can lead to less risk of developing chronic diseases while simultaneously decreases stress.
Although it might not stop ageing, it can however promote mobility, which is key to an improved quality of life.
Aerobic exercise such as walking is essential to keep the heart pumping while resistance training exercise ensure strength and muscle conditioning in old days.
Always keep hydrated- water is the best detox for accumulated toxins.