Seven Food Sources that May Help You Age Well

It is difficult to check out at a grocery store, department store or a convenience mart without seeing at least a half dozen different magazines claiming to have the magic to keep you from aging. Try one or more of these the covers state if you want to stop aging - diets, exercise, pills, medical procedures, lotions containing antioxidants and the list goes on and on.

Come closer. There’s a secret you need to know. The only way to stop aging is to die.

If you are interested, however, in some things you can do to help you age well, you’ve come to the right place. After all, it’s really not about how long we live; rather, it is about how long we can live well (quality of life), right?

While an apple a day may keep the doctor away, new studies show that drinking a glass of pomegranate juice a day could keep the wrinkles at bay. It does have a certain ring to it, but better than that, researchers have found that this juice slows down the natural oxidation (wear and tear) of DNA. It has also been linked to the prevention of heart disease and stress relief.

Dr. Sergio Streitenberger, Probelte Bio Labatory’s head of research, says, “We believe the study demonstrates that regular consumption of this new pomegranate extract can slow down the process of DNA oxidation. We get old because we fall apart, cell by cell. One way to look at aging is to think of it as rusting or oxidizing, a damaging process. The free radicals that oxidize our body’s molecules include fats, heavy metals and numerous other chemical compounds we breathe, eat and drink.

If free radicals reach the DNA of our cells, the damage is cumulative and significant. Being able to guard against this process would be a significant breakthrough.”

Before you run out to buy your new drink of the day, you need to know this study only included the effects of a potent new type of pomegranate extract, including the skin, pith and seeds of the fruit. Don’t be put off. This extract is available in the form of a pill.

A second food group which can help you age well is berries. While most berries are packed with antioxidant compounds known as anthocyanins, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries are particularly rich in that area. Anthocyanins have been shown to slow the growth of certain cancers, as well as improve brain function, muscle tone and balance. (When are those hundreds of blueberries on the vines next to the house going to be ripe?)

Do you suffer from chronic inflammation as a result of diabetes, cancer, fibromyalgia, arthritis, athletic injuries or other reasons? Drink a glass of green tea (eating well.com) with your lunch and/or supper. It has all kinds of health benefits, one of which is the ability to help quell inflammation.

Researchers from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock recently found that green tea can inhibit oxidative stress and the potential inflammation that may come as a result. After a 24 week study, they found that people who consumed 500 mg of green tea a day (about 4 to 6 cups of tea) halved their oxidative stress levels. They noted the placebo group did not see a single change.

Apparently researchers began wondering why the people who lived on the Greek island of Crete had such low rates of heart disease and cancer. Almost 40 years ago, it was discovered that the monosaturated fats in olive oil were largely responsible for this trend. Since then, researchers have discovered that olive oil also contains polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent age-related diseases.

Mothers and grandmothers are known for telling their children to be sure to take plenty of Vitamin C to ward off colds, especially in the winter. Did they also know studies have shown that vitamin C boosts cell renewal? Vitamin C helps form collagen, which smooths fine lines and wrinkles. Most vitamin C products don’t work due to their not containing enough of the active ingredient to be effective, or because Vitamin C is unstable and oxidizes, losing its potency.

Most people have likely heard that eating fish is good for them - two to three being the recommended number of times a week. Adding fish oil tablets as a dietary supplement has become a big trend over the past decade. Eating fish, or taking fish oil supplements, provides the body with omega-3 fatty acids that help protect against heart disease, reduce inflammation, reduce the risk of arrhythmia and lower blood pressure. These omega-3 fatty acids are found largely in coldwater fish, including salmon, herring, tuna and sardines.

Studies have also shown that people who eat a lot of fish live longer. One study of middle-aged American men found those who ate fish two to three times a week had a 40 percent lower mortality rate than those who did not. Even more impressive, men who had already suffered a heart attack, then began eating fish twice a week actually lowered their mortality rates by 29 percent.

Unlike other meats, fish is low in saturated fats. Fish is also a great source of protein.

For years and years the push was for children to be sure to eat at least one green vegetable a day. In fact, many children had to remain at the table for extended periods of time because they refused to eat their spinach, cabbage, collard greens, kale, etc. Now it turns out children should have been encouraged to eat their orange vegetables.

Yes, orange vegetables – carrots, pumpkin and squash because they are rich in alpha-carotene. Studies have shown that people whose blood levels measured highest for alpha-carotene were least likely to die of cancer, heart disease, or any other cause, during an 18-year period. At least one study lists alpha-carotene as its nutritional champion.

Nutritionists believed for years that it was beta-carotene, a phytonutrient plentiful in green leafy vegetables, that was extending people’s lives. Now, large studies seem to be indicating alpha-carotene is far more powerful in inhibiting the proliferation of brain cancer cells, suppressing progression of liver cancer and preventing the development of cancers of the lung and skin.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) researchers suggest the ideal levels of alpha-carotene seem to come from food, rather than a pill. So dig into that squash with pecans, buttered carrots and pumpkin pie, and a bit of green foods, too. It’s really good for you.

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