Anti-Ageing Foods: How a Healthy Diet Affects Age-Related Problems
I am obsessed with ageing, even though I am only 25 at the moment. I started thinking a lot about my own ageing process and how following a healthy lifestyle can affect it at a young age while watching many relatives struggle with arthritis. A healthy diet is crucial to slowing the ageing process and the formation of age-related conditions. Even if you cannot avoid them entirely, you can increase the time in which you will be able to be healthy and do the things you enjoy doing before ageing or before problems related to ageing start to interfere.
Brain Ageing and Diet
As ageing progresses, our cognitive functioning starts to decline. Signs include forgetfulness, lack of focus, and decreased problem-solving capability. Factors that can cause a deterioration in mental capabilities are free radical damage, inflammation, hormonal changes, insulin resistance, excess weight, poor nutrition, and stress.
This can be helped, to an extent, through diet. Eat a diet high in mono- and polyunsaturated fats, fibre, and antioxidants. Participating in activities, which will enhance cognitive abilities, such as playing chess, doing puzzle games, or learning a new language can also help reduce or slow down cognitive decline.
Moderate alcohol consumption can actually help protect against cognitive decline. Try to stick to red wine, as it was shown to be the most effective. Moderate alcohol and coffee consumption may also help protect against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Foods that improve cognitive function are healthy fats like avocado and olive oil, fish, foods high in antioxidants, spinach*, coconut oil, bone broth, eggs, seeds, nuts, yoghurt, lean meat, beans, and lentils.
*The antioxidants found in spinach help slow down the ageing of the brain and nervous system. They break down homocysteine, which is responsible for Alzheimer’s.
Cholesterol and Health While Ageing
Cholesterol levels can increase as we age, but a poor diet can elevate LDL (bad) cholesterol even further, leading to heart disease and reduced blood flow, due to blocked arteries. A diet high in monounsaturated fats like olive oil, nuts, seeds, and avocado, will help improve HDL (good) cholesterol levels and reduce LDL levels. A high-fibre diet, as well as regular exercise, can also improve cholesterol. A Mediterranean diet is recommended for people with elevated cholesterol, as it is high in fibre and rich in heart-healthy fats.
Osteoporosis: Bone Health and Healthy Ageing
Osteoporosis is a condition associated with fragile bones and a higher susceptibility to fractures. As we age, our bone density decreases, especially after the age of 35. Post-menopausal women lose bone density even faster and have a greater chance of developing osteoporosis. A diet rich in calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D can be of benefit.
Calcium helps fortify your bones and vitamin D aids in calcium absorption. You can find vitamin D in eggs, fish, and sunlight. Alcohol can also deplete calcium levels, so no more than two drinks per day. Other factors that contribute to bone loss are smoking and a lack of exercise. Exercising is one of the best ways to increase bone density.
Foods that help against osteoporosis include fish, dairy, broccoli, nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables.
Arthritis: When Your Joints Are Ageing You and Making You Unhealthy
Arthritis is a condition associated with inflamed joints and the breakdown of cartilage. It can be incredibly painful, but can be managed through a healthy diet and lifestyle. The first step in combatting arthritis is to cut inflammatory foods, as well as foods that increase acidity in the body like sugar, processed carbohydrates, trans fats, and processed foods.
Most foods that cause inflammation also increases acidity in the body. There is no use in taking expensive medication if you are eating to promote inflammation. Follow a diet high in healthy fats.
Stock up on turmeric and flaxseed oil. The antioxidant, curcumin, found in turmeric, is a strong anti-inflammatory, and individuals who struggle with arthritis should aim to have around a teaspoon a day in total. Blend it into your food, or buy it in capsule form. It is recommended that you consume a tablespoon of flaxseed oil daily. It is high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Also, include a lot of fatty fish, chia seeds, and walnuts.
Foods high in sulphur, such as onions, garlic, and cabbage can also reduce joint inflammation. Ginger is another wonderful anti-inflammatory option that should be included in a diet aimed at managing arthritis.
Because arthritis is also associated with the breakdown of cartilage and the insufficient production of collagen to maintain it, supplementing with foods that contain collagen, such as bone broth and gelatine is highly beneficial. Collagen can also be bought in capsule or powder form.
Lastly, load up on Vitamin C as it helps the body produce collagen.
The best foods for arthritis include turmeric, ginger, bone broth, gelatine, low-sugar fruits and vegetables, onions, garlic, asparagus, onions, fatty fish, chia seeds, flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, nuts, and seeds.
Muscles and Healthy Ageing
Muscle loss is almost guaranteed with ageing. Testosterone and oestrogen levels start lowering, which contributes to muscle loss. Combine that with lower levels of human growth hormone, poor diet, and stress, and the effects are amplified. Inflammatory conditions (like arthritis) also play a role in muscle loss, which is why an anti-inflammatory diet is essential.
Ensure that you are consuming enough protein, and exercise regularly, to help rebuild, as well as maintain muscle. Maintaining testosterone levels, even for women, is very important. Avoid things, which lower testosterone levels, such as sugar, alcohol, and hydrogenated vegetable oils. So … nothing deep-fried.
Foods that maintain muscle include meat, eggs, olive oil, nuts, seeds, and coconut oil.
Diabetes and Ageing
With ageing comes an increased risk of diabetes. In order to try and prevent or manage diabetes, a diet rich in fibre and protein, and lower in sugar, processed foods, and high-GI carbohydrates is best. Always pair protein with carbohydrates, if you are going to eat it, to reduce the glycaemic index. Eat regular meals to help stabilise blood sugar levels, and try to include cinnamon in your daily diet, as it has a positive effect on blood sugar.
Foods to eat include cinnamon, meat, healthy fats like nuts, seeds, and avocado, and low-sugar fruit and vegetables.
Menopause and Ageing in Women: Treat it the Healthy Way
At some point in their lives, women undergo menopause. Perimenopause can start from around the age of 40, and result in up to a ten-year-long fluctuation in sex hormones, such as oestrogen and progesterone, until ultimately, the woman stops menstruating. These hormones can also reduce to incredibly low levels post menopause. Having an imbalance or deficiency in these hormones, can lead to symptoms, such as fatigue, brain fog, hot flashes, weight gain, and low sex drive.
Cutting out sugar can reduce inflammation and help manage fatigue, excess weight, and bloating. Gluten can also be a trigger for inflammation. Thankfully, there are dietary changes you can incorporate for a few menopause-related symptoms:
Hot Flushes: Reduce intake of stimulants, such as coffee, alcohol, and spicy food. Include foods containing phyto-oestrogens (plant oestrogens) into your diet, as they help to improve hormonal imbalances by acting in a similar way to oestrogen. Foods such as soy, legumes, flaxseeds, miso, seeds, and green beans all contain phyto-oestrogens.
Fatigue: Avoid sugar and high-GI foods, as they can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels and cause tiredness after your blood sugar crashes.
Weight Gain: Reduce intake of sugar, processed food, and processed carbohydrates. Also aim to incorporate stress-relieving practices throughout your day, as stress can cause weight gain, especially around the middle.
Dry Skin: Eat foods like nuts, seeds, and olive oil because they contain vitamin E, which helps to moisturise skin from the inside.
Depression and Mood Swings: Eat foods that contain tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps balance moods and improves sleep. It is found in chicken, turkey, cottage cheese, lentils, beans, and chickpeas. Include other mood-boosting foods like dark chocolate,
Vaginal Dryness: This is caused by a decrease in oestrogen levels and poor circulation. Drinking enough water and including phyto-oestrogen-containing foods may help.
Best foods for Menopause include dark chocolate, flaxseeds, turkey, chicken, nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, avocado, fruits and vegetables, dairy, and fish.
Reduced Testosterone in Men and Healthy Ageing
As men age, testosterone levels start decreasing, and oestrogen levels can start increasing. This can lead to symptoms, such as fatigue, hair loss, mood swings, depression, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, type 2 diabetes, infertility, low libido, erectile dysfunction, headaches, and bloating.
Sugar and excess alcohol can reduce testosterone levels quite significantly, as well as stress, environmental chemicals, and a poor diet. These can all contribute to lower testosterone and higher oestrogen levels. Enjoy alcohol in moderation. Reduce your intake of sugar and processed carbohydrates, as they can cause insulin resistance and hormonal imbalance.
Supplement your diet with zinc, as it is involved in testosterone metabolism. Eating foods rich in zinc, such as pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, garlic, sesame seeds, spinach, and beef can increase testosterone levels, as well as sperm count.
Foods that increase testosterone levels are seeds, dark chocolate, peanut butter, celery, chicken, eggs, beef and spinach. You can experience a healthy ageing process through following the right diet and lifestyle. Make healthy lifestyle and diet changes over time in order to avoid becoming overwhelmed.