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
What are free radicals?
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,
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
In order to slow down aging you need to include plenty of antioxidant foods in your
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.
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
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
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
Delay aging by eating less
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.
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.
ten detox foods
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant which helps the body
manufacture the vital detoxer glutathione.
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.
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
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
Vitamins and minerals
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.
The website is copyright of Lynne Wheatman 2007 - 2009
fairies through the site, courtesy of Gwynneth and Artist Amy Brown