When people think about anti aging, they mainly think about their skin health, however anti aging pertains to the whole body not just its largest organ. Signs of aging appear as we get older and our metabolism slows, our bones brittle and our joints become stiff an achy. Premature aging occurs visually on the skin, internally on a cellular level and ultimately increases the risk for disease. Signs of aging range from wrinkles, and fine lines to weight gain, memory loss, declining muscle mass, bone loss, vision loss, gum disease, tooth decay, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, clogged arteries, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s all of which can be avoided. Degeneration in the body is inevitable however through the appropriate nutrients you can stave off aging temporarily. A healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, protein, omega 3 fatty acids, whole grains and the occasional dark chocolate, red wine, coffee, tea, and nuts will reduce cellular damage from free radicals and keep chronic inflammation at bay. You can reduce your risk of diseases associated with aging and ultimately lead a longer and healthier life.

According to the USDA a recommended daily allowance of fruits is 2-4 servings and vegetables is 3-5 servings. Unfortunately most of the American population doesn’t get even close to these recommendations, which is why disease and illness has run rampant in our country. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a key tool in preventing the body’s premature aging. Berries are rich in antioxidants, which combat free radicals that cause cell damage and chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation contributes to the aging process and is the root for chronic disease such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis and osteoporosis. Berries also contain high does of vitamin C which is needed in collagen production, the structure of our skin. Additionally blueberries have great memory boosting abilities staving off disease such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Don’t forget about your veggies. Spinach and other leafy green vegetables are loaded with vitamin K, lutein, and zeaxanthin. These plant substances protect our vision form the harmful affects of ultraviolet light. Vitamin K is required to keep bones strong, since as we age our bones thin and become brittle which increase the likelihood of fractures.

As we age our metabolism slowly declines making it easier to gain weight. Muscle mass also declines decreasing the body’s strength. Excess weight and decreased muscle mass increases the chance for falls later in life. As we age injuries from accidents and illnesses reduce the body’s ability to recover. Therefore it’s necessary to boost your metabolism and keep your muscles strong. To do this your body requires a steady consumption of protein i.e. skinless chicken, turkey breast, lean beef, pork, eggs, beans, and seafood. Low fat dairy also provides a good source of protein as well as the minerals calcium, phosphorus, and potassium, which keep bones strong and promote a healthy blood pressure. Protein rich dairy includes fat free milk, yogurt and low fat cheeses. Yogurt has an added bonus of probiotics, which reduce digestive problems, and lower the risk for tooth loss and gum disease.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid-
Omega 3 fatty acids are a potent anti-inflammatory, which reduces chronic inflammation in the body. Omega 3’s have a great impact on the brain, improving mood and decreasing degeneration over time. Fatty acids are found in seafood such as salmon and tuna, but should also be consumed through their plant sources as well such as walnuts and flax seed.

Whole Grains-
Whole grains are loaded with fiber which have a low glycemic index rating, meaning it takes the body longer to digest it but supplying the body with a steady source of energy. Fiber rich grains control appetite in this way keeping you feeling fuller for longer helping to manage weight. Whole grains also protect the body against diabetes, heart disease, colon cancer, stroke, high blood pressure and gum disease. Whole grains include whole wheat, oats, brown rice and bread, cereal and crackers made from them.

Although the promotion of drinking alcohol is normally never included in any type of health prevention, in the case of anti aging red wine is included. Red wine contains resveratrol a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Resveratrol counteracts cell death in key areas of the body, the heart and brain. By protecting our vital organs resveratrol has the ability to prolong life. Limit drinking of red wine to one glass a day as more can have potential harmful effects on the liver.
Coffee is another drink in which people have debated over its recommendations. Coffees health benefits come partly from it containing caffeine, but more because of chlorogenic acids, antioxidants that protect the body. Drinking coffee lowers the risk for type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and heart disease. Again limit your coffee intake since increased consumption can cause jitteriness, headaches and shaking.
Tea is a better route to go since its polyphenols (antioxidants); fluoride and caffeine make this the healthiest drink of the three. Drinking tea lowers the risk for heart attacks, strengthens the immune system, protects against tooth decay and fights against memory loss. Black, white, green, or oolong teas are among the four teas, which have these health benefits. Tea can be drunk daily without any restrictions.

Nuts & Dark Chocolate-
In small amounts both dark chocolate and nuts have weight loss benefits and anti aging abilities. Although nuts are promoted as high fat, high calorie foods, that shouldn’t be eaten if you want to lose weight, this is actually incorrect. The problem isn’t that they are high fat, because they actually contain good fats (monounsaturated), it’s that people usually eat too many within one sitting. Nuts are actually filling if consumed in the right quantities and the body actually uses some of the calories to break them down so their calories aren’t absorbed.
For those with a sweet tooth turn to dark chocolate. Again if consumed in small amounts dark chocolate has the ability to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, prevent clogged arteries, which lead to stroke and heart attack and boost brain function. This is due to the cocoa flavanols, antioxidants only found in dark chocolate. Only consume 1-2 ounces in a sitting to avoid added calories.

Author's Bio: 

Sarah Labdar graduated with a BA in exercise science and has worked in the medical field since. Her focus is alternative medicine and how it interacts and works in conjunction with traditional medicine.
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