While we know that aging is inevitable, no one wants to think of themselves as getting old. We want to hold on to our youthfulness as long as possible and to only get better with age. Rather than looking at age as overarching, we address the signs as they come whether it’s fine lines and wrinkles, a few more hairs in the sink, blood parameters creeping upward, or the annoying joint and body aches. Although we can’t turn back time, there are lifestyle choices that can lead to the betterment of our years and more successful aging. You won’t be shocked to learn a lot comes down to your diet. Here are 9 tips to help you avoid premature aging and to retain your youthfulness as long as possible.
- Restrict Calories: Studies show the best way to slow down aging is calorie restriction. You might be thinking this is easier said than done as it can be hard to restrict calories if you are always hungry and fatigued. This is why the Zone Diet maintains the appropriate balance of protein to carbohydrate at every meal and snack to control blood sugar and get to your next meal with minimal hunger.
- Curb The Sugar: Sugar is one of the hardest habits to kick but its intake is linked to premature aging. Collagen is a protein in our skin responsible for its strength and elasticity and it naturally declines as we age. A poor diet high in refined carbohydrates accelerates collagen decline. When excess sugar attaches to protein it results in the formation of Advanced Glycation End Products or AGE. This causes our skin to lose its elasticity making it more susceptible to sun damage, fine lines and sagging.
- Get Your Omega-3s: 90% of individuals fall short on their intake of omega-3s yet the anti-inflammatory benefits of their intake are well established. Omega-3s , specifically EPA and DHA, can activate a group of mediators called resolvins which play a vital role in our ability to combat inflammation and heal from injuries. Omega-3s also impact DNA. Telomeres are the “endcaps” on our DNA and a part of our cell that affects how we age. When they shorten they cause our cells to stop functioning resulting in premature aging. Omega-3s, like those found in OmegaRx 2, have been shown to help reduce this shortening which may help improve longevity.
- Eat Berries: If you want to keep your memory sharp, make berries your fruit of choice. Not only are they lower in sugar than other fruits, but their high polyphenol content can protect brain cells from inflammation and cell damage possibly helping to delay the onset of diseases that impact memory.
- Increase AMPK: Studies have shown that AMPK, a master switch of metabolism, naturally declines with age. Unfortunately, as our levels of AMPK drop our body composition begins to change and with that comes an increase in abdominal fat. The good news is that simple dietary changes can help minimize this trend by increasing our natural levels of AMPK. Polyphenols found in fruits and vegetables are one way to boost AMPK.
- Think Cocoa Flavonols: Cocoa is rich in a group of polyphenols called flavonols which have been shown to be protective in minimizing age related cognitive decline. In addition, studies show cocoa flavonols improve blood flow and when used during exercise can help reduce exercise-induced oxidative stress and even alter how the body uses carbohydrates and fats for fuel.
- Minimize Stress: Stress presents itself different in all of us, but at the cellular level it leads to inflammation and potential damage of our DNA. One of your best defenses comes from trying to minimize inflammation through the foods you eat. This is why the Zone Diet, omega-3s and polyphenols become one of your best defenses since they are based upon helping to control inflammation in the body. Dr. Sears also encourages the use of meditation to help reduce stress. Taking 5-10 minutes to focus on your breathing can help reduce stress making you feel calmer and mentally focused.
- Rest Up: Not getting enough sleep can literally take years off your life. Sleep deprivation has been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Even if you think you need less sleep with age it’s not true. Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night to give your body the rest it needs to rejuvenate.
- Hydrate: While the science isn’t quite there on water consumption reducing fine lines and wrinkles, what is clear is that with age comes greater risk for dehydration. As we age our ability to feel thirst declines making it even more important to hydrate regularly. Declines in muscle mass, kidney function, physical and cognitive function along with the use of more medications and reduced thirst put older adults at much greater risk of dehydration. Filling a large water bottle at the start of the day and putting it in a visible place is a good daily reminder to make sure you get what you need.
You can see from these tips that many elements of the Zone play a key role in helping to slow down the aging process or premature aging. Tell us in the comments what about the Zone helps you feel and look your best.