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Anti-ageing and the role of good nutrition

Have you ever looked at someone and thought they were 50 years old, only to find out they were 40…or thought someone was 40 and found out they were 60? Did you know that what you eat plays a major part in how we age. You only have to look at the people in Okinawa, Japan. In 2005, Okinawa had a record breaking 28,000 people over 100 years old. I bet the Queen is glad Japan isn’t part of the Commonwealth. Australia had 3154. One reason people in Okinowa may live so long is the fact that they consume 8x the levels of Antioxidants (those things that counter harmful free radicals in the body) compared to Australians.

Here are some of the foods that we should be including in our diet.

Berries

What does movie star Halle Berry eat to have such amazing skin in all her superhero movies? Well, I think her name says it all… Berry! Berries contain powerful compounds called antioxidants. These protect your cells against free radical damage caused by oxidation.

Blueberries contain 4 powerful antioxidants: anthocyanins, favonols, tannins, and resveratrol- the same potent anti-oxidant found in red wine. They have many benefits:

  • Fight cancer cell growth
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve memory packed with vitamin C
  • Collagen supports healthy skin and gums
  • Fights risk of Alzheimers

Raspberries are similarly high in antioxidants. The unique acid in raspberries protects human cells, which leads to amazing looking skin. High in vitamin C, rich in B-vitamin, and help metabolise carbs, protein and fat.

Eat 1/2 cup to 1 cup of berries one or two times daily with a breakfast smoothie and for an afternoon snack with cultured dairy.

(ORGANICALLY GROWN berries have significantly higher concentrations of antioxidants than commercially grown fruits and are best eaten raw)

Avacados

Cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in Australia today, yet eating superfoods, such as avocados, is a painless way to reduce the risk of heart disease and slow ageing dramatically. Not only do avocados have 20 essential nutrients, but they’re known as “nutrient boosters” as they help the body absorb other fat-soluble nutrients as well.

By adding a slice of avocado to a meal, your body is able to digest more nutrients from other foods. Key nutrients in Avocados help hydrate your cells, keeping your skin soft and young. Avocados are rich in B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E (which gives your skin moisture), and has 35% more potassium than a banana, which helps hydrate your skin. Also, with high levels of omega-9 fats, Avocados can help naturally balance hormones!

Many people avoid avocados, seeing them as a high-calorie, high-fat food. That’s a big mistake, because healthy fat is essential for anti-ageing. The fatty acids from avocado actually increase good HDL cholesterol levels and help protect cells from damaging free radicals. Avocados also contain carotenoids which provide vitamin A for eye health, boost the immune system and support a healthy reproductive system. The unique makeup of these superfoods helps the body fight inflammation and reduces the risk of arthritis, there’s no better way to slow the aging process.

Garlic

For centuries garlic has been used to fight of the top two killers in Australia today: cancer and heart disease. Garlic has the power to kill dangerous viruses, bacteria, parasites, and cancer cells according to the University of Maryland Medical Centre.

For men, garlic has been shown to help prevent an enlarged prostate. For both men and women, it’s great for killing off yeast infections such as candida. Garlic is anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, anti-coagulant, antiseptic and anti-fungal, and those are all good things to be!

Use three cloves of garlic when preparing a family-sized dish, which is a sneaky way to get everyone their vitamin C, B6 and manganese! Raw garlic is even more beneficial, so be adventurous. Add garlic to hummus, salsa, guacamole, or yogurt to bring on additional health benefits. Garlic acts as a fuel for probiotics as well as supporting a strong immune system to ward of colds, flu and other more serious infections.

Garlic is a valuable source of antioxidants which protect cells, particularly skin cells, from free radical damage, making it important in slowing down the ageing process Antioxidants protect against pollutants and fight of toxins that can harm our immune system.

Fish oils

Fish oil is a form of fatty acid that is derived from the tissues of oily fish. It contains the omega 3 fatty acids. Their benefits are endless, they boost heart, brain and joint health, but they also prevent cancer, eye disease and bone problems and keep our skin healthy.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in wild caught fish like salmon and mackerel, algae, krill, and certain plants and nut oils. Unfortunately in Australia most salmon is farmed, which is void of most of the nutrients that wild caught salmon has.

I recommend my clients take a practitioner only fish oil supplement and avoid cheap supermarket fish oils as you don’t know the quality of the fish used to make them.

Cocoa

Most people are amazed (and delighted!) to find that cocoa, the main ingredient of dark chocolate, is a superfood. Its high in antioxidants. Chocolate with a high cocoa content enhances the mood, protects the skin from UV sun damage, boosts cardio-vascular health and is beneficial for the nervous system.

While it is incredibly beneficial, moderation is the key. Just 1g of cocoa per day can help lower blood pressure, reduce blood clots, improve the skin, sharpen the mind and slow down the signs of ageing.

Milk chocolate and white chocolate do not have the same benefits. Choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70%, which will have a maximum amount of favonoids, less sugar and an acceptable amount of calories and fat.

So when looking for a sweet snack, a square of dark chocolate might be a good choice as its delivering a dose of antioxidants, helping keep arteries healthy and protects from cardiovascular disease. Remember moderation is the key !

If you would like more information on anti-oxidations or assistance with any area of nutrition, please call HealthSpace at Kingsford to organise a personal consultation with Marie, our Clinical Nutritionist.

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