Looking and feeling younger is a lot more under your control than you may think. A lot of the signs of aging that we assume are natural and unavoidable, such as wrinkles, decreasing mobility, less acute sight and hearing, disease, and assorted chronic aches and pains, come in large part from not taking proper care of ourselves. The choices you make when feeding yourself are just as important as exercise and other elements of your anti-aging strategy.
Studies have shown that putting lots of fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet gives you more energy, helps manage your weight, and lowers your risk for many diseases. The reasons for this include the fact that most fruits and vegetables have no fat or cholesterol, and they are low in calories, which means you can fill yourself up without gaining weight.
Produce also contains lots of fiber, which helps prevent cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. They are also filled with important vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin C, folic acid, iron, calcium, and beta-carotene.
Fruits and vegetables are also chock full of antioxidants (discussed in Chapter 1), which get rid of those destructive free radicals that attack and damage our cells. Eating a diet that contains plenty of antioxidants is a safe way to combat aging, in addition to preventing many types of disease. Antioxidants also build up the immune system, help prevent heart disease, and reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men.
Another aspect of a healthy anti-aging diet is to simply eat less. Numerous studies have shown that people who do not eat at every meal until they are stuffed live significantly longer and have much lower rates of all those lovely age-related diseases you have heard me mention so many times already, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and many others. (They bear repeating because the stakes are so high here!).
But when I say eat less, that does not mean starving yourself or neglecting to eat the right kinds of food. Decrease your portions of sugar, fat, fast food, and other empty calories, but consume plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, and whole grains.
Eat less red meat, and more fish. Fish are rich in a good kind of fat, the omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for your heart and your immune system. Omega-3 also helps prevent the growth of cancer cells.
Fruits, vegetables, and many plant extracts also have chemicals called phytonutrients, which help keep your skin looking nice and healthy. The role of phytonutrients in plants includes giving them their color, repelling insect enemies, and attracting bees for pollination. (Antioxidants are a type of phytonutrient.)
Another aspect of good health that will keep you young longer is a healthy digestive system and colon, including regular bowel movements. While not the most glamorous of topics, it is still vitally important. When John Wayne was autopsied after his death from lung and stomach cancer, over forty pounds of hard fecal matter was found stuck to the sides of his intestines! Keeping yourself regular prevents this from happening to your insides.
The best ways to promote good digestion and elimination are to get regular exercise, drink plenty of water every day, and eat a good diet with plenty of fiber. Other obstacles to a healthy colon include elevated levels of stress, a sudden change in your daily routine, pregnancy, and taking certain medications.
Best Wishes, Coyalita
SEE TOMORROW: “The Nutrition You Need”
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