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WOMEN

Healthy eating for a longer life 

This article highlights which foods are good for you, what to eat to help control ageing and what you should avoid if you are worried about weight gain.

Researchers now agree that destructive molecules known as free radicals are responsible for many of the age related degenerative conditions in the human body. For example wrinkles, memory loss, arthritis, atherosclerosis (which causes heart disease) and cancer causing mutations in cells. The good news is that you can limit the damage inflicted from free radicals and therefore affect the rate at which you age by making changes to your diet and lifestyle to reduce the levels of free radicals in your bloodstream. 
 

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are electrochemically unstable molecules, generated within our body’s by normal metabolic functions such as breathing, digesting food and fighting infections, as well as by factors such as certain foods (for example, heated fats), overeating, smoking, stress, sunburn and pollution. In large quantities, free radicals can damage DNA, accelerate ageing and contribute to a wide variety of disorders. 
 

Arm yourself with Antioxidants

Antioxidants are nutrients that seek out and neutralise the cell-damaging free radicals, blocking their path of destruction. In this way they can help ward off cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts and other age related illnesses and conditions. Hence they are renowned as anti aging nutrients,

The key antioxidants are beta-carotene (which the body converts into vitaminA) vitamins C and E and the minerals Selenium and Zinc. Manganese and copper, some B complex vitamins and certain enzymes and amino acids also have antioxidany properties. Many antioxidants work together, enhancing each others action, which is why a varied diet that includes different antioxidants is important. 
 

Antioxidant foods

In order to slow down aging you need to include plenty of antioxidant foods in your

diet. Since nutrients can be destroyed in cooking, uncooked fresh fruit and vegetables are the best source of antioxidants. Particularly good ones include: apples, avocados, bananas, berries (blackberries, blackcurrant, blueberries, raspberries, redcurrants, strawberries), brazil nuts, broccoli, carrots, cherries, citrus fruits, garlic, hazelnuts, kiwifruit, peas, plums, prunes, raisins, red grapes, red peppers, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes and watermelon. 
 

Feed up on fibre

Dietary fibre is the part of fruit, vegetables and whole grains that our bodies cannot digest but that is essential as it ensures a speedy passage of digested food through the bowel. Waste that builds up in the body not only causes constipation but also brings the risk of cancer and bowel disease like divertuculosis. Fibre also helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and helps with weight control, and plays a role in steadying blood sugar, which is important for energy levels.

Fluid is particularly important as we get older as our digestive system functions less effectively. Try to eat 20 – 35, (about 1 oz ) of fibre per day. Good sources include wholegrain cereal foods, vegetables, chickpeas, beans and lentils, dried fruit, prunes, figs, nectarines, dates and raspberries. Make sure you dink plenty of water to help this indigestible nutrient through your digestive system. 
 

Check your Cholesterol

Our bodies need cholesterol to function, but too much of it in the bloodstream results in clogged and narrowed arteries, which can lead to heart disease. The foods that contain cholesterol (egg yolks, some shellfish, end offal) but the main cause of high blood cholesterol levels is too great an intake of saturated fat which is converted into cholesterol in the body cholesterol levels seem to rise with age and with stress. Lowering your blood cholesterol levels is paramount for good health. 
 

Choosing the right foods

Our body weight is the result of the balance between the amount of energy (that is food) taken in, usually measured in calories, and the amount used up through physical activity. As we get older, we naturally lose some of the muscle mass and strength that requires calories for maintenance and our metabolism slows down, so we don’t need as many calories as we did when younger. The reason why many of us put on weight as we get older is that we don’t alter our eating habits to reflect the need for fewer calories. 
 

Delay aging by eating less

Another reason to watch your food intake is that consuming fewer calories improves longevity. Evidence from a number of different animal studies in which a restricted calorific diet resulted in significantly increased lifespan suggests that we too, would benefit. We are more likely to live to a healthy old age and avoid chronic illness and degenerative diseases like heart disease and cancer. This is because a limited calorie intake results in a strengthened immune system and fewer free radicals in the bloodstream as well as lower total body fat, better blood sugar control, lower blood pressure and lower blood cholesterol. 
 

Detox

Detox – short for detoxification – is probably the biggest health topic in the 21st century. Studies have shown that we are feeling sicker and lower in energy than ever before. We are filling our bodies with toxins, these include the caffeine that we use to fuel our energy deficit, the fumes we breathe in, th junk food we eat and the alcohol we drink. 
 

When toxins build up

You may not be aware that your body actually has a whole detox system. It has to, otherwise it would become poisoned by natural toxins, including waste products from food, dead bacteria and debris from the millions of new body cells produced each day. If any one part of the system breaks down, toxins will not be eradicated and will start to build up in the body.

Common toxins

  • Alcohol
  • Caffeine
  • Nicotine
  • Pesticides
  • Pollutants
  • Saturated fats
  • Sugar
  • Stress
  • Allergy – related foods

 
 

Top ten detox foods 
 

Apples

Contains vitamin C and quercetin, antioxidant nutrients that lower fat and cholesterol levels in the bloodstream, as well as pectin, a soluble fibre that binds heavy metals ( such as lead and mercury ) in the colon and encourages the excretion. Apples also help the body to excrete food additives. 
 

Advocados

Contain glutathione, an antioxidant that fights free radicals. this combines with fat soluble toxins, particularly alcohol, to make them water soluble. Levels of glutathione decrease as we age (one reason why hangovers worsen as we get older), making us more susceptible to arthritis. 
 

Artichokes

Increase production of bile, which carries toxins to the bowel where they can be excreted. Contains antioxidant nutrients. Damage to the liver caused by free radicals is dramatically lessened when artichoke extracts are present. 
 

Beetroots

Certain methionine, a sulphur-containing essential amino acid that helps to purify natural waste products from the body, and betanin, which helps the rate at which the liver can break down fatty acids. These chemicals take the pressure off the liver allowing it to fight more dangerous toxins 
 

Cruciferous vegetables

Cabbage, kale, Brussels, spinach and cauliflower are all cruciferous vegetables – members of the cabbage family. And are very powerful detoxers that neutralise particular toxins. These vegetable also contain glucosinolates, which prompt the liver to produce enzymes vital to body function. 
 

Garlic

Allicin is created when garlic is crushed, and it converts into a sulphur based compound when it enters the body. Toxins such as mercury, certain food additives and chemical versions of the hormone oestrogen bind with sulphur, enabling the body to excrete the whole package. 
 

Kiwifruits

Contain vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant which helps the body manufacture the vital detoxer glutathione. 
 

Prunes

These are the ultimate antioxidant food and provide twice as many antioxidants as blueberries, their nearest competitor. They contain tartaric acid a natural laxative, and dihydrophenylisatin, which triggers the intestine to contract. Together they reduce the time that faeces stay in the system, thereby reducing the risk of toxic reabsorption.

Seaweed

Seaweed binds the body with radioactive waste, which can reach us via food that has been grown where water or soil has been contaminated. It contains minerals in high doses, such as iron, calcium, and magnesium, and also iodine and alginates 
 

Watercress

Increase detox enzymes in the body and may act directly on particular toxins. Contains chlorophyll, which helps build healthy red blood cells, thereby boosting your body’s circulation . 
 

Vitamins and minerals

If you are deficient in micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – your health suffers. Sometimes the effect is obvious. Vitamin A deficiency for example, can make your skin dry and flaky. But the effect can also be more subtle and sinister. Long term deficiencies – even low grade deficiencies – can suppress your immune system, making you more likely to pick up infections and less able to shake them off. They can also, increase your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer. 
 

  • Smoking depletes vitamin C stores, so if you are a smoker you need extra vitamin C in your diet. Smoking runs down levels of vitamin B vitamins too so its important for smokers to get plenty if vitamin – rich foods such as meat, dairy, whole grains and pulses.
  • Stress also uses up extra B vitamins so you need more when under pressure.
  • If you’re a heavy drinker you face a double whammy when it comes to b Vitamins. Not only are you less able to absorb them, but alcohol also depletes the body’s levels of these vitamins
  • Vegetarians and vegans will find it hard to get enough vitamin B12 because its only found naturally in animal products.
  • The main source of vitamin D is a chemical reaction triggered by sunlight on the skin. In a country with a grey climate, people with dark skin may be deficient in vitamin D.

 
 

Better digestion

  • Don’t eat immediately after work relax and distress first
  • Don’t eat when angry or upset
  • Don’t eat quickly. Take time to eat properly. Chewing your food slowly has been found to help relieve stress
  • Don’t eat a large meal just before you prepare fore bed
  • Don’t drink as you eat it dilutes digestive enzymes
  • Sit upright and focus on your food
  • Eat small meals and snacks. Don’t go more than two and a half hours without eating, and always eat that big breakfast. Remember better digestion goes hand in hand with relaxation.
  • Drink 2 litres of water every single day.

 
 
 

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The website is copyright of Lynne Wheatman 2007 - 2009

fairies through the site,  courtesy of Gwynneth and Artist Amy Brown