Diet to support Anti-Aging
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
When I was young, I just wanted to grow up so I was free to make my own decisions and eat whatever I wanted without being told by another. I couldn’t wait!
But when we’re older and have more freedom to make decisions and eat what we like, we think how nice it really was to be young.
Many people chase youthfulness by having face-lifts, tummy tucks, boob jobs or pretty much anything to look better and feel younger.
A minority use diet. Yet ironically, diet is one of the most effective things you can do.
Let’s look at some dietary factors that can help us to stay and look as ‘young’ and vibrant as possible. We can’t escape getting older, but we can regain and maintain vitality at any age and still look great.
When considering what can prevent the signs of aging, most people talk about their skin condition and wrinkles. But the focus of an anti-aging lifestyle should be on an overall healthy body, and not one element such as skin (which by default will look better as your body becomes healthier and more vibrant).
A vital body with lots of energy requires a healthy balanced gut, liver, immune system and hormones to help you look and feel great.
There is, of course, more to anti-aging than food; it’s important to have medical check-ups to ensure that your body doesn’t have any underlying health issues that may undermine your good intentions. Exercise, fresh air and plenty of clean drinking water are also important.
Specific foods can increase your vigour and ‘youthfulness’. But what’s more important is what you don’t eat, rather than what you do eat. Processed foods, sugar, grains, unhealthy fats, alcohol, sodas and caffeine are pro-aging and won’t do your skin or vitality any favours.
Eat to love yourself and your body will love you back (and people will ask what you’ve been doing because you look so vital).
Bone broth: full of collagen boosting ingredients to help reduce wrinkles
Silica rich foods: great for skin, hair, nail and connective tissue support, such as the skins from vegetable and nuts and seeds
Foods rich in healthy fats: such as fatty fish, avocados, coconut oil, nuts and seeds, help plump up skin cells and reduce inflammation in the body
Amino acids: from protein foods are the building blocks of collagen and elastin, which are both vital to healthy glowing skin, while a deficiency of amino acids makes skin thin and dry.
Potassium-rich foods: help to plump up skin cells and can be found in various fruits (especially bananas), and veggies, nuts, meat, poultry and fish. You can use sea salt (high in potassium) or even potassium chloride veggie salt blends to season your foods for added potassium.
Vegetables: are loaded with antioxidants, helping prevent oxidative stress caused by free radicals which tend to prematurely age us. Other great antioxidant foods include berries and antioxidant rich drinks such as Rooibos tea.
A diet for Anti-Aging does not prevent chronological aging, but the right foods will help to bring balance to the body and support it to do its natural job of healing so you can feel and look fabulous.
A diet to support anti-aging is Gluten-free, Dairy-free and Additives-free.
Not a food but:
Exercise/movement, fresh air, sunshine and clean water are all important, along with engaging with people, laughing, hugging, having fun, being playful, resting/naps where needed and most importantly, listening to your body and responding to what it’s telling you.
As mentioned, the foods and drinks you remove from your diet are vital for vitality. Some consider it too hard to ‘give up’ old bad habits. But consider how much there is to gain!
Before you change your diet, see your medical or health care professional for qualified guidance and do not stop any medications or supplements previously prescribed unless advised otherwise by your medical or health care professional, who may even prescribe extra supplementation.
During the early stages of a new diet, you may experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches or body aches, which may occur because your body is detoxifying. However, if you are unsure about a symptom at any time, check immediately with your medical or health care professional.
In this case study, I’m using us as the guinea pigs….me (Sue) and my husband (Rod).
Back in 2006, we ate what would be considered a healthy diet, interspersed with rubbish food, particularly during and after a wine or beer…or three.
We decided to extend our annual post-Christmas-New Year’s three-month detox into a 12-month healthy eating and drinking program. After a few months, we decided not to go back to our old ways as we felt great and we couldn’t see the point of feeling lesser.
Over a period of two years we gradually made the transition to a diet that is gluten free, dairy free, alcohol free, caffeine free, additives free and relatively sugar free (still some fruit).
Sound radical? Actually, it wasn’t too bad. No alcohol was easy – we’d go for a walk instead, or chillax with a glass of mineral water and a twist of lemon. Gluten and dairy were reasonably easy as there are many excellent yummy substitutes available. Caffeine was replaced with decaffeinated coffee or dandelion, with coconut or almond milk, or Rooibos tea.
The tough one was sugar – particularly yummy gluten and dairy free chocolates and cakes. But we found that the trick was not to feel guilty if we waivered, because we felt that created more damage to our bodies than the occasional lapse.
As we’ve progressed we continue to make minor adjustments to foods that don’t feel right for us. And as our diet becomes more refined, we are more sensitive to the effects of foods on our bodies. And that’s really neat.
About two years after we started, our gluten, dairy, alcohol, caffeine and food additive free lifestyle had become totally natural; we didn’t crave any of these substances.
One day we bumped into a friend we hadn’t seen for about three years who lived in a different town. She looked us up and down and said, “Oh my God, what have you guys been doing, you both look amazing and younger than the last time I saw you”. Now that felt good.
She invited us to her wedding where there were others that we hadn’t seen for three years (due to moving away) and they all said similar things. It happens regularly.
We think we look pretty awesome for our ages. Hey, we’re no longer spring chickens, but I’m certainly not an old boiler and Rod isn’t the ‘old man’ (except he is a bit of a rooster)!
We’re a lot more vital, dance, walk in nature, exercise and feel quite youthful (apart from the odd muscle pain now and then). Actually instead of the word ‘exercise’ which is a bit harsh, we find ‘movement’ is a much better word.
We work long hours and are together 24/7, laugh a lot and wouldn’t have it any other way. We are more open and connect and meet all sorts of interesting people when we’re out and about. We love life and life loves us back.
The catalyst for many of the wonderful changes in our life was our commitment to a healthy, nutritious diet…the foundation to vitality.
Hey it wasn’t plain sailing, particularly with dropping sugar, and we can really relate to struggles with food as we have both experienced them throughout our lives.
We are by no means perfect and if we eat something that doesn’t suit our bodies by mistake or choice, boy we really pay for it with lethargy, bloating, headaches, aches and rashes.
So, we get back on track and soon feel amazing again.