Conversations about “staying young” and “slowing down the aging process” are everywhere, and all this talk can get overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to decipher what’s true and what’s not.
Most of us have probably heard by now that what you eat can affect the way you age. But what exactly does this mean for us, and how can we build eating habits that can help us age in a healthy way?
To get a clearer idea, here’s what the science says about eating habits and how they can slow the aging process. Read on and then check out the best breakfast habits for a faster metabolism after 50 years.
Chances are you’ve at least heard of the Mediterranean diet, especially in conversations about healthy aging. This diet takes its inspiration from Italy and Greece and includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats such as olives and olive oil. Fish is occasionally used in it, but it is mostly vegetable. This diet also significantly limits the consumption of processed foods and added sugars.
The Mediterranean diet has been praised for its effect on slowing cognitive decline, but what does the research actually say? in 2015, Food Diary Progress published a systemic review of the relationship between diet, dementia and brain aging.
According to this review, sticking to a Mediterranean diet as you age is associated with fewer cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, as well as slower cognitive aging. This was based on multiple types of studies (cross-sectional and longitudinal), trials and meta-analyses.
This review attributes certain features of the Mediterranean diet, such as antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids, to its influence on brain aging. The patterns of this diet are said to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are major contributing factors in dementia and cognitive decline.
When it comes to aging, science shows that inflammation can be a major culprit in speeding up the process. According to a meta-analysis of Aging Research ReviewsChronic low-grade inflammation may be a factor in many of the chronic diseases and illnesses that commonly occur in old age.
This review also found that eating or supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids can significantly help reduce inflammation as you age. Another study, published in The British Journal of Nutritionshows that in addition to omega-3 fatty acids, things like whole grains and fiber, and a variety of fruits and vegetables also help reduce inflammation as you age.
It is always possible that your doctor will recommend that you supplement certain nutrients as you age, especially if there are specific areas of health that require attention. However, a lot of research on nutrition and aging shows that a balanced, multi-nutrient diet is more effective than supplementation.
According to a recent article published in the International Journal of Molecular SciencesConsuming all the major macro and micronutrients through a wide variety of foods such as whole grains, lentils, nuts, vegetables, fruits, etc., can have a significant impact on pursuing a healthy life as you age. With this in mind, they also note that a balanced diet that supports healthy aging also focuses on limiting your consumption of added sugars and heavily processed foods.
So while supplementation may be a good idea if recommended by your doctor, it’s critical to slow the aging process by focusing on a wholesome, balanced diet full of beneficial macro and micronutrients.
Your skin and how quickly it ages is influenced by both internal and external factors, but many people are so focused on fixing the external factors (buying the right skincare) that they may not realize how much their complexion is affected by the internal factors such as good (their diet).
According to a report published in nutrientsThere are many different nutrients, vitamins and minerals that play a unique role in slowing the aging process of the skin. For example, proteins help repair skin tissue, vitamin B helps reduce inflammation and pigmentation, vitamin C helps with collagen synthesis and water is crucial for hydrating the skin and reducing inflammation and signs of aging.
This report also notes that things like smoking, alcohol, a high-fat diet and added sugars are associated with faster skin aging and damage. But while your diet plays a key role in your skin aging process, we still recommend wearing that SPF!
If you have questions about your diet and healthy aging, talk to your doctor or dietitian about a helpful plan.