The number of elderly people worldwide is estimated to climb to 2.1 billion by the year 2050.
Realistically, this date isn’t that far away. Even “normal” non-pathological aging is associated with a higher risk for cognitive decline. This is a change that can lead to disability, even before dementia occurs.
Other aging-related problems include cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. And we are all pretty well aware of the effects that aging can have on the skin.
Sagging, dryness, and wrinkles are unpleasing aesthetically. However, they can also be signs that we need some more antioxidants and anti-inflammatories in our diet.
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Relation between diet and aging
Specific dietary patterns are linked to a lower risk of diseases associated with age, such as cardiovascular disease.
For example, healthy fat intake (such as olive oil) is one mechanism that can reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, and decrease other risk factors. Also, healthy diets rich in plants can lower calorie intake while increasing the consumption of phytonutrients and antioxidants.
There are foods you eat that can lower your glycemic load, decrease inflammation, glycation, oxidative stress, and modulate biological pathways related to aging. Certain foods that we will discuss have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This is what can help to reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with age. They can also promote healthy aging and longevity.
Research shows that modifiable lifestyle factors such as diet are key strategies for maintaining brain health during aging. Many studies show that there are relationships between lifestyle factors, brain structure and function, and cognitive function in aging adults. Your diet can affect neuroplasticity substrates. These include the following:
- Neurotrophic singling
- Creation of new neural pathways
- The stress response
- Antioxidant defense (from polyphenols, green tea, dark chocolate, red wine, etc.)
Certain ways of eating can affect mortality. Eating certain foods can improve survival, memory, and healthspan in aging adults. Longevity is a complex phenomenon. This is because several dietary factors influence the physiological pathways of aging and life expectancy. Nutrition is an essential factor in overall morbidity and mortality. Its role in extending life expectancy has been thoroughly researched.
The diet can have epigenetic effects on the aging process. This happens through the consumption of certain foods and calorie restriction as well. Epigenetic mechanisms play a pivotal role in gene expression. The quality and quantity of your diet can influence these epigenetic mechanisms. This is how diet can affect cellular longevity.
Reducing glucose intake can also help to lower the risk of age-related diseases like cancer and diabetes. Nearly a century’s worth of research shows that nutritional interventions help to delay aging and age-related diseases. These studies have been done on animals as well as humans.
Lower food intake can not only help with weight loss. It can also help to improve the aging process. It can reduce the risk of aging-associated diseases in rodents, primates, and humans too. Lower intake of certain nutrients is vital. This is especially true of protein and specific amino acids such as methionine and tryptophan.
Optimizing the gut microbiome is also important. This can be done through an anti aging diet and have long term effects. You can improve your microbiome by consuming foods high in probiotics, such as yogurt.
Caloric restriction can play a crucial role in aging and cancer. Reducing the amount of calories you eat can increase health and life span. Caloric restriction can extend the average and maximum life span in many different organisms, including humans. It can also delay the onset of age-associated changes in many organisms.
How does the body do this? Caloric restriction causes coordinated and adaptive stress responses. These happen at the cellular and whole-body level. They do this by modulating epigenetic mechanisms.
The diet can affect the following epigenetic mechanisms:
- DNA methylation
- Signaling pathways that regulate cell growth and aging (these pathways are called TOR, AMPK, p53, and FOXO)
- Cell to cell signaling molecules (such as one called adiponectin)
The overall effect these adaptive stress responses have is a higher resistance to subsequent stress. This delays age-related changes and helps to promote longevity. In humans, caloric restriction can help to delay many diseases associated with aging. These include the following:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Neurodegenerative diseases
Caloric restriction is one of the methods that has been studied the most. Protein restriction and amino acid restriction can also help to delay the aging process.
10 anti-aging foods to add to your diet
Watercress is a leafy green vegetable. It is full of nutrients and hydrating to the body. This is what gives watercress its anti-aging properties. Watercress is an excellent source of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- K Vitamin
- Vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine)
- Vitamin B2 (also known as riboflavin)
Watercress acts as an antiseptic to the skin but from the inside. It increases circulation. This helps to make sure minerals are being delivered to all the cells in the body. This ensures that the skin is fully oxygenated.
Watercress also contains several antioxidants, such as vitamins A and C. These help to neutralize free radicals. Watercress can also help to boost the immune system, optimize digestion, and provide iodine, which is important for thyroid health.
2) Red bell pepper
Red bell pepper is full of antioxidants. When it comes to anti-aging, antioxidants are key. Red bell pepper has a lot of vitamin C, which is good for collagen production.
Red bell pepper also contains carotenoids. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants. They are pigments that give fruit and vegetables their bright red, orange, and yellow colors. Carotenoids have anti-inflammatory properties. They can help protect your skin from sun damage, pollution, stress, and other environmental toxins.
Papaya is a superfood. This is because it has lots of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. These can all help improve skin elasticity and minimize the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines of the face. Papaya contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A
- C Vitamin
- Vitamin E
- B vitamins
Because of the antioxidant content of papaya, it can help to fight damage from free radicals. This helps to delay signs of aging. Papaya provides an enzyme called papain. This enzyme is one of nature’s best anti-inflammatories and has anti-aging benefits because of this. Consuming papaya can help your body to shed dead skin cells. This can give you youthful, glowing skin.
Blueberries contain vitamins A and C. They also provide anthocyanin. Anthocyanin is an age-defying antioxidant. This is what gives blueberries their color. The antioxidants in blueberries can protect your skin from damage from the sun, stress, and pollution. Blueberries can do this by moderating the inflammatory response and decreasing the loss of collagen from the skin.
Broccoli is a potent anti-aging food. Broccoli is anti-inflammatory. It contains the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin K
The vitamin C we find in broccoli is essential for producing collagen. Collagen is the main protein in the skin, giving it elasticity and strength. Lutein from broccoli can help to preserve brain and memory function.
Calcium and vitamin K, also in broccoli, can help with this as well. This makes broccoli helpful in bone health and preventing the age-related condition of osteoporosis.
Spinach is a hydrating leafy green vegetable. It is chock full of antioxidants. These help to provide oxygen and replenish the whole body. Spinach provides the following nutrients:
- Vitamin A
- C Vitamin
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
Spinach’s high vitamin C content helps to enhance collagen production. We know this can help to keep the skin from aging, as it maintains its form and smoothness. Vitamin A can help promote healthy, shiny hair. Vitamin K helps reduce inflammation in cells, which we know is helpful in the prevention of aging.
Nuts are an excellent source of vitamin E. This especially goes for almonds. Vitamin E helps to repair the skin, maintain its moisture, and protect from sun damage. Walnuts are exceptionally high in omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. They also help to strengthen skin membranes and protect from sun damage. Omega 3 fatty acids also maintain the skin’s natural oil barrier. This gives the skin its beautiful glow.
Eating walnuts is linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Eating pistachios is linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Almonds are related to cognitive decline prevention in older adults. Other sources of omega 3 fatty acids include fatty fish or oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies. Other healthy foods such as coconut oil and sesame seeds are high in healthy fats as well.
Avocados are high in healthy fats that promote smooth and healthy skin. These healthy fatty acids help to fight inflammation. Avocados contain saturated fats along with several essential nutrients that help fight against the negative effects of aging. These nutrients include the following:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- E Vitamin
- Vitamin K
- B vitamins
The vitamin A in avocados can help to shed dead skin cells. This contributes to glowing skin. The carotenoids in avocados can help to block toxins and sun damage. It can even help to prevent skin cancer. Avocados are one of the best foods for anti-aging and longevity.
Avocados can help your body to live longer and work more efficiently. Because of their healthy fat content, avocados can also help increase the uptake and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. This includes vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamin A.
You can incorporate avocado into your diet through guacamole or avocado toast. Or you can simply add some salt, pepper, and lemon juice and eat it that way!
9) Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are orange because they contain beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that gets converted to vitamin A. Vitamin A can help to promote the turnover of skin cells. It can also help in the maintenance of skin elasticity. Overall, vitamin A can help to give you soft and youthful skin. Sweet potatoes also contain vitamins C and E. Both of these can help protect our bodies from free radicals.
10) Pomegranate seeds
Pomegranate seeds are actually a staple in healing medicine. They have been used for centuries. Pomegranate seeds are high in vitamin C, as well as other potent antioxidants. This means that they can help lower inflammation in the body and protect us from free radical damage. Pomegranate seeds also contain punicalagin. These are compounds that help to preserve collagen in the skin, thus slowing the signs of aging.
As you can see, there is undoubtedly a relationship between aging and what we eat. It’s possible that you want to prevent aging to preserve your youthful appearance. If so, loading up on these foods will do you good. But it will likely also have lots of positive effects on your overall health. If you want to prevent the aging of the cells from preventing more serious conditions such as type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular disease, eating these foods can help.
To prevent aging of your body, mind, and skin, try incorporating as many of these foods with anti-aging benefits as you can. As always, it’s a good idea to speak to your health care provider before making dietary changes. Once you have the all-clear from your doctor, try having leafy greens like watercress and spinach.
Load up on red bell peppers and papaya-snack on blueberries and nuts. Have as much avocado, sweet potatoes, pomegranate seeds, and broccoli as you can. We can’t avoid aging but can optimize and improve how we do age.