If life’s aim is to ‘Die young as late as possible’ then we have to answer the question ‘What makes us old?’
I’m not talking about chronological aging here – none of us can erase our birthdays. I’m talking about biological aging. Quite simply, some people’s cells are older than others of the same chronological age. This shows through their physical appearance, and their health.
Biological aging is caused by oxidative stress, or an imbalance between the amounts of free radicals generated by normal metabolism and exposure to various environmental toxins.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition reveals that having high blood levels of natural antioxidants is associated with long life and good health.
Specifically, the researchers recruited over 1000 men and women aged 65 and older. They inspected their blood, their diets, measured their vitamin and mineral levels, as well as phytochemicals and inflammatory markers. The participants were monitored for an average of 13 years.
Over that time period, 74% of the male and 62% of the female participants died. Those with the highest blood levels of vitamin C, alpha-carotene, selenium, zinc and iron were significantly less likely to die.
Researchers also found that a higher dietary intake of vitamins C and E was associated with a significantly lower risk of cancer. Higher dietary vitamin E protected against respiratory disease in males, while carotenoid intake was protective in women.
So what does this mean to you?
Firstly, vitamin C and carotenoids are found exclusively in plant-derived foods. Secondly, researchers found that refining and processing foods results in dramatic losses of important nutrients. For example, wholemeal bread has 91% less zinc than cooked bulgur. White rice has 71% less iron than brown rice.
The typical Western diet based on refined cereals and animal products is not only dismally low in antioxidants; it is high in substances that contribute to oxidative stress.
Unfortunately, taking vitamin pills won’t make up for a lousy diet!
A diet filled with fruit, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds floods your body with thousands of nutrients that help slow down the process of cellular aging.
Your reward for eating right will not only be a more youthful appearance and increased energy levels, but protection against the diseases associated with aging.
Article from Hopewood contributor Robyn Chuter.