'I believe if I refuse to grow old, I can stay young 'til I die'
Much of age is a mindset. There's the old adage you're only as old as you feel- and I truly believe this is reflected outwardly. However, food choices contribute significantly to the outward (and inward) aging process. There may be cosmetic remedies, like botox, to make you appear younger, but this does nothing to affect the biological age of your organs! The good news is you can save your botox money by choosing foods that slow down the aging process, both internally and externally.
As food is digested, mitochondria, the powerhouse of our cells (6th grade Cell Rap, anyone?), convert calories into energy. A by-product of this process are free radicals, oxidizing agents that deteriorate the body from the inside out, just as oxidation forms rust on iron and ultimately destroys it. Meat, dairy, processed foods, alcohol and cigarettes are among the greatest free radical offenders, whereas fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that help deter the oxidation process.
Free radicals can stiffen the arteries, shrink the brain, and wrinkle the skin. In calorie restriction mode, our cells protect themselves by producing less energy but also throwing off fewer free radicals and thus slowing the aging process. This is why intermittent fasting is now all the rage- the fasting period provides your body some recovery time from the oxidation process.
Fortunately recent research has shown that regular consumption of turmeric, sweet potato and seaweed can provide some of the benefits of caloric restriction, tripping genetic triggers that minimize production of free radicals, without making you hangry. (For more information, I recommend reading The Blue Zones Solution).
Takeaway? Include the following 3 foods as part of your regular meal rotation to keep your arteries supple, your brain large and your skin silky smooth:
1. Turmeric- a spice with powerful anticancer, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains several compounds under study for their anti aging properties, especially the ability to mimic caloric restriction in the body. Its compound curcumin has been shown in both clinical and population studies to slow the progression of dementia. Adding black pepper to turmeric increases the bioavailability of curcumin 1,000 times! Strive to eat 1 teaspoon of turmeric daily. I add a sprinkle to my hot lemon water in the morning and use it to season many of my meals.
2. Sweet Potato- this sweet tasting starchy root doesn't spike blood sugar as much as regular white potato and contains antioxidants called beta carotene, which possess a variety of potent anti-aging properties. The purple variety is higher in antioxidants than its cousins (Japanese sweet potato). Try my coconut mash sweet potato recipe.
3. Seaweed- provides a filling, low-calorie, nutrient-rich boost to the diet. Rich in carotenoids, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, and iodine, they also possess at least six compounds found only in sea plants that seem to serve as effective antioxidants at the cellular level (read: good for slowing aging). Order a seaweed salad next time you're at a Japanese restaurant, cook your beans with kombu, or snack on nori.