How we age isn’t just about the number of birthdays and genetics. Diet and nutrition affect aging as well from our skin to our bones.
"Food is like a pharmaceutical compound that affects the brain," Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a UCLA professor of neurosurgery and physiological science told UCLA Newsroom.
"Diet, exercise and sleep have the potential to alter our brain health and mental function. This raises the exciting possibility that changes in diet are a viable strategy for enhancing cognitive abilities, protecting the brain from damage and counteracting the effects of aging."
Let’s start with sugar. Sugar is not your skin’s friend. Experts say eating too much over many, many years turns skin dull and wrinkled.
When sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins found there, the process is called glycation. The result is damaged, advanced glycation end (AGEs) products. The more sugar one eats, the more AGEs form.
Sugar wreaks the most havoc on collagen and elastin in skin. They keep our skin firm and elastic, but once damaged by glycation, collagen and elastin become brittle, and wrinkles can form.
Want to do right by your skin? Bring on the antioxidants. Antioxidants help to delay or prevent bad molecules from damaging healthy cells. They are found in brightly colorful fruits and vegetables like blueberries, carrots, leafy greens and tomatoes.
Vitamin C — found in green and yellow vegetables — is an antioxidant that works to keep our skin looking more youthful. WebMD.com said that one study found an association between eating these type of vegetables and fewer wrinkles.
Antioxidants don’t just affect how our skin ages. They play a role in our aging vision. We can thank vitamin C, zinc, and beta-carotene for help protecting our eyes from macular degeneration. After age 64, macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness.
But that’s not all. Resveratrol is another powerhouse antioxidant. Found in grapes and wine, experts say resveratrol can help lower cancer risks, heart disease and premature aging, said WebMD.com.
Diet and nutrition also help with our aging brains. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in certain fish, nuts and fruits. Some recommend fish oil supplements as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Their benefits include learning and memory improvement. In addition, these types of fatty acids may help prevent mental problems such as mood disorders and dementia.
Omega-3 fatty acids don’t stop at our brains. They help protect our hearts and can lower the risk of suffering from a stroke.
Fish oil may also help slow down our chromosomal age. This a marker of biological aging. “Research shows that high consumption of EPA/DHA, the fats found in fish oil, can strengthen the protective caps found on chromosomes slowing their degradation overtime,” wrote Shape.com.
And finally calcium and fortified vitamin D, which can be found in cereal, dairy products and nut milks, are vital to maintaining strong bones, said WebMD.com. They help prevent osteoporosis which can develop as we age.
Dr. Roussell, Mike. "Ask the Diet Doctor: Does Calorie Restriction Affect Aging?" Shape Magazine. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.
Jaret, Peter. "Best Foods for an Anti-Aging Diet - WebMD." WebMD.com. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.
Repinski, Karyn. "Face Facts About Sugar." Prevention. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.
Wolpert, Stuart. "Scientists Learn How What You Eat Affects Your Brain — and Those of Your Kids." Newsroom.ucla.edu. Web. 18 Sept. 2015.
Reviewed September 25, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith