This Nutrition Plan Can Help Slow Down Aging

Aging starts from the inside out, so by managing what you put in your body, you can slow the process – in any decade.

Nutrition PlanPhoto Credit: Shutterstock

Commit to an anti-aging food plan

The first physical signs of aging may start to appear around age 25. Are you noticing issues like dull skin, fine lines, wrinkles, fragile hair and nails, joint problems and bone inflexibility? We talk a lot about the importance of anti-aging foods in our practice. Do they work? Absolutely! Many people think of only fine lines and wrinkles in regards to aging, but natural aging also affects our energy levels, heart function, blood pressure, bone density, bowel function, lean muscle mass, body weight, and risk for developing certain diseases. Ideally, you should start committing to an anti-aging food plan by your mid-20s. But if you missed that boat, don’t worry: It’s really never too late to make changes and still experience incredible anti-aging benefits! Get started with these four simple steps.

#1: Get into a healthy body weight range

Being either underweight or over-weight increases your risk of developing certain health conditions and diseases and contributes to poor aging. The great news? If you’re overweight, losing five to 10 percent of your total body weight dramatically lowers your risk. Maintaining a healthy body weight (body mass index of 18.5 to 24.9) becomes challenging as we age. (Not sure which level you’re at? Take our fitness test to find out.) Your best bet? Focus on eating foods that are naturally low in calories and packed with essential nutrients — potent, anti-aging foods (scroll down for specific nutrients). Include more fresh fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, nuts, seeds, legumes, quinoa, chia seeds and hemp seeds daily. Portion control of meals and snacks is also key. Here’s an easy start: At lunch and dinner, portion your plate using the “Plate Method.” Load up half of your plate with salad or fresh vegetables, one-quarter of your plate with lean protein (fish, skinless chicken, tofu), and the last quarter of your plate with a starch (whole wheat pasta, brown rice, whole grain bread).

#2: Get adequate hydration

Most people live in a chronically dehydrated state, and people often don’t feel as thirsty as they age. In fact, you could be missing one of these silent signs of dehydration. Chronic dehydration dramatically affects aging from the inside out. Increased dryness is a natural part of aging, which shows up most obviously on the body’s largest organ: our skin. Chronic dehydration further dries out the skin. This contributes to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles and internal health issues. Drink water regularly throughout the day, because it’s required for all body organs to function properly. Keeping your skin hydrated requires adequate water intake, and essential nutrients require water to be transported to cells. We recommend getting your daily fluid intake from water, other beverages and anti-aging foods (like raw fruits and veggies).

#3: Boost your gut health

Research shows a link between digestive health and aging. In the gut, there’s a finely balanced microbiome of beneficial bacteria, fungi and other microbes. Good bacteria (probiotics) can be destroyed by a diet that’s high in sugar, refined carbs and artificial sweeteners and a lack of essential nutrients. Bad bacteria can take control, causing inflammation that damages your gut wall and results in a “leaky gut.” Toxins can leak through the compromised gut barrier into your bloodstream, causing inflammation, sagging skin, premature wrinkles and even chronic illness.

How can you repair an unbalanced gut microbiome? Fermented foods (yogurt, kefir, kombucha) encourage probiotic growth and help reduce your toxic load. Since probiotics feed on prebiotics, we recommend supplementing with both prebiotics and probiotics. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are compounds that increase in diets that are high in added sugars (think candy and processed foods) and are associated with signs of aging, including wrinkles. To starve bad gut bacteria and reduce wrinkles, women should limit their daily intake of added sugars to six teaspoons a day. (It’s safe to say, you can ignore this anti-aging advice.)

#4: Finally, load your plate with these anti-aging foods.

HIGH FIBRE Fibre provides antioxidants and aids in detoxification. Aim for 35 grams a day using our “5-4-3 fibre” goal daily: five servings of vegetables, four servings of fruits and three servings of whole grains.

VITAMINS A AND C These super-antioxidants are free-radical scavengers that are crucial in collagen formation. Enjoy kiwi fruit, pineapple, citrus fruits, strawberries, apricots, pomegranate, red bell peppers, sweet potatoes, carrots, watercress, kale, spinach, parsley, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation. We encourage a daily intake of 2,000 to 3,000 milligrams of EPA and DHA combined. Try salmon, walnuts, hemp hearts, chia seeds, ground flaxseed and avocados. Taking a daily supplement will ensure that you get enough omega-3s in your diet.

SILICA Silica helps maintain skin elasticity and improve your complexion. It’s found in the pulp and peels of plant-based foods, so enjoy whole fruits and vegetables daily.

ASTAXANTHIN This incredible carotenoid and super-antioxidant slows aging and improves skin elasticity. Look for it in wild salmon, red trout, shrimp, crab and lobster.

FLAVONOIDS Flavonoids protect against UV-induced cellular damage. Boost your intake of onions, garlic, berries and matcha green tea.

PROTEIN Protein breaks down into amino acids that are required for the repair and regeneration of skin cells. Amino acids (and vitamin C) increase levels of hyaluronic acid and collagen, which are key to aging well. Enjoy eggs, skinless chicken, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans and plant-based protein powder.

COLLAGEN Collagen gives skin elasticity and strength while promoting thicker hair and healthy nails. It makes up 75 percent of our skin and is vital for reducing lines and wrinkles. As we age, we lose one percent of collagen each year. Try supplementing with five grams of type one hydrolyzed marine collagen daily.

Next, discover what your food cravings are trying to tell you.

Rebecca and Reisha Harper are twins and registered dietitians with a special focus on nutrition for health, beauty and aging well. For more info visit their website.

Originally Published in Best Health Canada