Is Your Diet Aging You?

Simple strategies to keep you young, inside and out.

Did you look in the mirror this morning and think, “Wow, I look great!”? Or did you think, “When did I get so old?”

If it was the latter, you might want to take a look at your refrigerator, kitchen cupboard, and dinner table for one of the culprits.

burger and fries meal

Aging happens to all of us, of course. And there’s no way to put the brakes on it, no matter what the latest “nutraceuticals” may claim. But an unhealthy diet can send your aging process into overdrive and leave you looking years older than you really are. And, it probably isn’t doing the inside of your body any favors, either.

Quality Counts

Timothy Harlan, assistant professor of medicine at Tulane University School of Medicine, a former restaurateur known as “Dr. Gourmet,” and author of Just Tell Me What to Eat!, says, “There’s an incredible amount of evidence that says that eating junk puts your body into an inflammatory state. Poor-quality foods, like trans fats, cause inflammation — and aging is basically a chronic inflammatory state.” Harlan asks: “Can you look older because you’re eating crap?” And he answers: “Absolutely.”

For example, too much sugar and processed carbohydrates in the diet can lead to the production of what are called AGEs — advanced glycation end products. “These are associated with a number of diseases, like heart disease and diabetes,” says Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, a nutrition policy consultant for the California Center for Public Health Advocacy. What’s more, she says, “they also damage the collagen and fibers of your skin.”

But it’s not just your looks that are on the line. Eating more than you should of foods that ramp up inflammation — or that clog your arteries or pack on extra pounds — can be bad news, from head to toe.

Foods to Limit

  1. Potato chips and French fries. Anything that’s deep-fried in oil is laden with trans fats, which contribute to inflammation throughout your body. According to the American Heart Association, you should keep trans fats to less than 1% of your daily diet.
  2. Doughnuts and sugary pastries. These pack a multiple whammy. Often they’re high in trans fats and, of course, they’re packed with sugar, which is also linked to inflammation. And they produce those wrinkle-generating AGEs Giancoli talks about.
  3. Hot dogs, bacon, and pepperoni — any processed meats. Sad to say, the meats on your favorite home-delivery pizza and ballpark dogs aren’t doing you any favors. They’re high in saturated fats and also contain nitrates, both of which contribute to the inflammatory process.
  4. Less-than-lean red meats. The key with meat is to keep it lean to minimize saturated fats, which are big producers of inflammation and no friend of your arteries. The USDA’s 2010 dietary guidelines recommend eating a variety of protein foods, including lean meats. The American Heart Association suggests that you keep saturated fats from all sources (not just red meat) to less than 7% of your daily calorie intake.
  5. Alcohol. This is a tough one: Some alcohol may be good for you, but too much can absolutely age you prematurely. “Research says there’s a sweet spot for alcohol,” Harlan says. That’s one drink per day for women (such as a 5-ounce glass of wine or 12-ounce glass of beer) and two for men. If you drink, on average, one or two alcoholic drinks per day, that may be good for your heart. More than that and you may be revving the aging process and its associated diseases such as liver disease and certain cancers. If you don’t drink, health experts don’t advise you to start. And if you do drink, talk to your doctor to make sure your drinking is in line with your particular health concerns.

More importantly, Harlan says, eating a diet rich in high-quality foods can reduce inflammation and help keep you looking your best. “It’s very clear that following a Mediterranean-style diet reduces the risk of a number of illnesses associated with aging, like cancer, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.”

Foods to Favor

Harlan and Giancoli are both reluctant to pick out a list of “superfoods” that help to keep you looking young and healthy.

“There are people who have these theories that foods that are very high in antioxidants somehow slow the aging process. And there is some scant evidence of that in animal models,” Harlan says. “But don’t just pick out a few foods and focus on them. The minute you start talking about individual foods, people lose sight of the big picture.”

So stay away from fad diets that are all about salmon and acai berries, he says. “I want you to eat lots of broccoli and sweet potatoes and salmon and chickpeas and good-quality chicken. Eat a healthy variety of foods and that will keep you looking your best.”

That’s not just one opinion. In general, many sources are now saying that a traditional Mediterranean style diet — rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy, and lean protein — is your best option for overall health.

Another important factor, Giancoli adds, is eating wholefoods, closest to their natural state as possible. “Don’t just eat plants; eat them pretty close to how they were when they came out of the ground or off the tree,” she says.

So instead of “superfoods,” here’s a list of five foods that are key elements of the Mediterranean diet and are examples of the kinds of foods you need to be getting more of.

  1. Romaine lettuce. Plain old Romaine salad is high in vitamins A and C, antioxidant vitamins that help battle inflammation. Other dark leafy greens that should be on your list include broccoli, spinach, arugula, watercress, escarole, and endive.
  2. Tomatoes. Along with watermelon, grapefruit, guavas, asparagus, and red cabbage, tomatoes are particularly high in the antioxidant lycopene.
  3. Salmon. As with other marine fish such as tuna and herring, salmon is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation.
  4. Lentils. Beans are one of Harlan’s favorite sources of protein and are loaded with fiber and antioxidant vitamins. Try black beans, split peas, limas, pintos, and even fat-free refried beans. “Your skin is essentially made of protein, so if you don’t get enough healthy protein in your diet, your skin will reflect that,” Giancoli says. “Along with fish, beans are a great way to get it.”
  5. Oatmeal. Studies have found that whole grains such as oatmeal, whole wheat breads and pastas, brown rice, couscous, and quinoa help to reduce inflammation. “These also have B vitamins in them, like thiamine and riboflavin, which are important for skin as well,” Giancoli says. “Deficiencies in them cause rashes and scaly skin appearance.”

And you have to keep eating healthy to stay looking good. “Skin sloughs off all the time, so you need regular incoming doses of vitamins, nutrients, plant chemicals that we call phytonutrients, healthy fats, and proteins,” Giancoli says. “If you’re not getting enough of the good stuff on a regular basis, you won’t be able to produce healthy new skin cells in the way that you should.”

If you eat a diet like this, will you look better in the mirror? “That depends,” Harlan says. “I looked pretty ugly in the mirror before! But if you eat healthy, you are absolutely going to look better.”

read more:http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/is-your-diet-aging-you?page=3

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9 Common Mistakes That Age You

9 Common Mistakes That Age You

Eating Sweets
The average American eats 150 pounds of sugar each year—18 percent of our calories. You know the health implications of this, from obesity to type II diabetes, but it can also be as much of a wrinkle-causing culprit as sun exposure and smoking. That’s because a process called glycation causes sugars to attach to proteins in collagen and elastin, which can make skin look older. The aging effects of excess sugar consumption become visible around age 35 and accelerate rapidly after that.

Youth boosters: Limit your sugar intake to 6 1⁄4 teaspoons (or 25 grams) a day. Fiber slows sugar absorption, so opt for whole foods like an orange over its juices (OJ has the same sugar content as soda). When a sugar craving hits, it’s often because you’re thirsty, so try having a glass of water or seltzer instead of something sweet. If that doesn’t help, have a piece of dark chocolate or fresh berries.

9 Common Mistakes That Age You

Working Too Hard
Research has found that a bad job—whether it’s a career you don’t enjoy or working long hours—can increase the risk of heart disease and speed up cell aging, as well as minimize the time you spend getting exercise, healthy meals and sleep. Long-term chronic stress—a common problem for the overworked—also impairs brain function.

Youth Boosters: If you can’t change your stressors outright (think: a difficult boss, travel schedule or workload), draw up a list of things that make you happy—a pet’s wet kisses or your favorite tea—and add them into your day. Complaining about your job can make stress worse, so resist the urge to gripe, and replace complaints with thoughts of gratitude.

9 Common Mistakes That Age You

Eating Inflammatory Foods
Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) form when sugars and fats react with a protein, causing a structure to change irreversibly, and then attach to many things in the body and cause damage. While we can create AGEs in our body after eating sugar, we can also straight-up consume these AGEs via foods that are processed and/or heated. Browning, caramelizing, grilling, roasting, broiling and frying create AGEs. Highly processed and canned foods heated during processing, as well as high-fat dairy products like cheese, are also culprits. AGEs can increase inflammation and oxidation that cause aging and age-related diseases affecting the heart, brain, bones and joints, kidneys, insulin resistance, anemia and skin.

Youth Boosters: Your best bets to reduce the consumption of AGEs are to eat raw when possible, eat foods in their whole form and cook them with a water-based method (like steaming, poaching or boiling) or marinate in an acid (like vinegar or lemon juice) before cooking. Eating a variety of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods can also help reduce the inflammation and oxidation that AGEs cause, so go for berries, sweet potatoes and leafy greens.

9 Common Mistakes That Age You

Skipping Resistance Training
Women lose approximately 5 percent of their muscle mass every decade after the age of 30. Resistance training is the only thing that reverses this and it may even increase muscle growth to previous levels or above them. Strength training is also great for bone density and increasing energy and strength. It keeps the metabolism running, helps with balance and stamina and is good for the heart. More muscle tone also means less saggy skin.

Youth Boosters: Aim for 20 minutes of resistance training three times a week, using weights or bands for curls, presses, rows, squats and lunges—or your own body weight for push-ups, chair dips, squats, lunges and planks. Pair this training with 30 minutes of cardio five days a week.

9 Common Mistakes That Age You

Skimping on Sleep
Getting regular sleep isn’t a luxury—it’s a medical need. Lack of sleep releases cortisol, which can age us internally and externally. Consistency is key, too: a 2011 study found that changes in how much or how little test subjects slept over a five-year period in late middle age were associated with an accelerated cognitive decline equivalent to four to seven years of aging!

Youth Boosters: Getting a solid 7 1⁄2 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night lets you cycle through several REM patterns; it’s in this stage of sleep that the body is able to repair itself, and is important for healing, memory, skin elasticity, normal cortisol levels and metabolism. To encourage sleep, keep your room at 65 degrees, and maintain the same sleep and wake hours. Valerian tea or tart cherry juice, which help to stimulate melatonin production, are also great natural sleep aids. If tension or restless legs keep you up at night, take 1 to 2 teaspoons of magnesium citrate powder mixed with water or juice to relax those muscles.

9 Common Mistakes That Age You

Forsaking Fat
Women typically cut fats from their diet as they age, because they’re trying to cut calories. But good, healthy fats like omega-3 fatty acids help to keep skin supple, boost brain health, keep the heart strong, fight diabetes and can increase lifespan. Cutting omega-3s increases cellular inflammation that accelerates the aging process, and eventually leads to organ dysfunction and loss of function. It also makes your skin look more irritated, less radiant and older.

Youth Boosters: Consume more extra virgin olive oil, almonds, avocados and fatty fish like wild salmon but avoid vegetable oils rich in omega-6s (corn, soy, sunflower, safflower) and limit saturated fats found in butter and cheese. We need 2 1⁄2 grams of DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids per day, which you can get with a tablespoon of cod liver oil or via a purified fish oil supplement.

9 Common Mistakes That Age You

Bad Posture
People typically lose about 1 centimeter of stature every 10 years after age 40. Rounding of the upper back, lower back pain and a forward head position are the most typical age-related posture concerns. Sitting, standing and bending incorrectly don’t just add years to your appearance but take a physical toll, too. When we sit or stand with our bones misaligned, our muscles work overtime and it weakens our joints. Good posture helps you look healthy, stay strong and flexible, eliminate or avoid pain, increase energy, be more relaxed and maintain mobility.

Youth Boosters: When seated, sit on your sitz bones (the bony part of your butt that you feel when you sit on a firm surface). When standing, draw your chin in to look at your ankles, let your weight move back into your heels, take each shoulder back and down, and back your head up without lifting your chin too high—and for bending, bow from your hip joints, not your waist.

9 Common Mistakes That Age You

Skipping Sex
“Getting busy” contributes to greater happiness, a stronger immune system, good circulation and caloric burn and can even help you live up to eight years longer, according to one study. Some researchers say sex also boosts the production of human growth hormone, which improves muscle tone and makes you look younger and more fit. Chemicals released during sex reduce stress and improve energy, well-being and mood.

Youth Boosters: The average American couple has sex twice a week, but it’s most important that both partners are reasonably satisfied with the frequency. Scheduling sex can help trigger your desire, as can fantasizing for 10 minutes a day on your own or trying something new like sexy lingerie or a new position to keep things interesting. To “wake up” your pelvic area and stave off a low libido, try three sets of 10 Kegel exercises every day for four weeks.

9 Common Mistakes That Age You

Forgetting the Sunblock
Of course the most serious result of too much sun is skin cancer, but it also causes wrinkles, sun spots, broken capillaries and a dry, dull complexion—and it’s not just from baking on the beach. 80 percent of sun exposure comes from cumulative everyday outings whether walking or driving (UVA light travels through car windows). Additional sources include reflected light from sand, water and snow; mirrored rooms with large windows; high altitudes; and the ultraviolet radiation responsible for the UV index on a cloudy day.

Youth Boosters: Apply a daily moisturizer containing an SPF 30 or higher (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide ingredients are chemical-free) to all exposed areas. Wear protective clothing, including a hat, too, and limit your exposure—even on cloudy days. Shield your eyes and surrounding skin with sunglasses that have UV protection of 400 or higher.

Read more: http://bit.ly/16bSfqa