When most people look back to when they were 18 years old, they remember a time when the world was their oyster. They were just beginning college, looking forward to getting married, raising a family and creating a meaningful career. But, scientists know that after a person enters young adulthood, physical signs of aging have already begun to appear.
As early as 20 years of age, many people notice that wrinkles are beginning to appear, they’re losing a little hair and even their nails are beginning to thin. By age 30, the majority of human organs have already started to show the effects of the aging process. At 40, you begin to show signs of a slowing metabolism – gaining weight is easier and losing it is harder. Between 40 and 65 years of age, you’re aware of losses in muscle strength, sight and hearing. Most women start to lose bone density at an alarming rate years before menopause. By the time you’ve reached 65, chances are you’ve been diagnosed with arthritis, osteoporosis or some other chronic disease such as heart disease, hypertension or cancer. Pretty grim news. But, it doesn’t have to be.
Over the past 50 years, researchers have learned a lot about how our diet affects the aging process. Most recommend that we make early changes to our diet that includes:
- Limiting the number of calories we eat
- Taking multi-vitamins
- Eating more whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables
- Switching from whole to non-fat dairy products
- Eating more lean meats and fish
Another development that has been the basis of hundreds of published studies and countless newspaper and magazine articles is the value of antioxidants in diminishing the aging process.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring molecules that slow or prevent the oxidation of other molecules. They’re also used as additives to help eliminate deterioration of packaged foods and to extend their shelf life. Oxidation can be responsible for the destruction of cells in many diseases and significantly contributes to the aging process.
A number of foods are rich in antioxidants, are recommended to help slow the aging process and to prevent naturally occurring diseases. “ACES” foods that contain vitamin A, C, E and selenium are common in many of your favorite foods:
- Vitamin A – dark green vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, eggs and many dairy products like milk, butter and cheese
- Vitamin C – fruits, red peppers, broccoli, tomatoes and liver
- Vitamin E – vegetable oils, peanuts, corn, asparagus and fortified breakfast cereals
- Selenium – dried nuts, fresh pork, turkey, mushrooms, tuna and striped bass
Antioxidants are also present in a number of “superfoods” like Goji berries. While Goji berries are grown all over the world, the best quality berries are cultivated at high altitude in Tibet. They contain 18 amino acids, 12 times the protein of apples, oranges or strawberries, are a good source of vitamin C and beta carotene. The polysaccharides in Goji berries can help to combat many common diseases of aging like cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and osteoporosis and have been part of the Tibetan diet for thousands of years.
Getting on in years is an evitable part of life. But, getting old doesn’t have to be. By watching what you eat, drinking plenty of water and getting regular exercise, you can significantly slow the aging process and enjoy living into your “golden years.”