DIETINGWELL

Aging Gracefully: How to Reverse Aging

Aging may be inevitable. It’s impossible to stop the clock and the growing number of candles on our birthday cakes. Nevertheless, reducing or even reversing the effects of aging, such as wrinkles, gray hair, as well as deteriorating physical and cognitive health, is within our reach. 

Studies are increasingly suggesting that reversing aging is possible and experts on aging agree that there are certain strategies that can combat aging and certain positive steps you can take to age gracefully and add as much as a decade or more to your life. 

Phasing Out Destructive Habits

Quit Smoking

Smoking has been shown to have a major negative impact on your skin, hair, overall physical, and cognitive health. 

In addition, smoking has been shown to speed up skin aging. It may cause wrinkles and a dull complexion. 

Avoid Foods That May Speed Up Aging

Certain foods have been shown to have a negative impact on our aging process. These foods include:

  • Sugar and refined carbohydrates are associated with premature skin aging
  • Drinking alcohol dehydrates the skin
  • Saturated fats are associated with aging

Anti-Aging Foods That Can Reverse Aging Naturally

When it comes to aging, the foods we eat have a massive impact on us. But what exactly are the foods that will keep our skin wrinkle-free, our brain sharp, and our body healthy for as long as possible? 

In general, experts recommend following a Mediterranean-style diet, which has been shown to protect us against brain aging. In addition, it is recommended to follow a diet rich in fruits and vegetables (which are the best way to combat fine lines and promote overall health), whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy products, seafood, lean poultry, and meats. Opt for a diet packed with antioxidants, healthy fats, healthy proteins, essential nutrients, and water. In addition, make sure to choose fruits and vegetables deep in color, as these tend to have more antioxidants. 

Experts also advise us to limit our saturated and trans fats intake and mind our cholesterol, salt, and sugar intake.

Healthy Fats

Healthy fats are rich in Omega-3s, as such, they protect your cells from free radicals and oxidative stress. 

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil (especially cold-pressed) is known for its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties, which have been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, some types of cancer, and other chronic diseases. Monounsaturated fats in olive oil may also help reduce skin aging.

2. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are packed with long-chain omega-3 fats, which have been shown to protect against heart disease, inflammation, and other health issues. The fatty acids found in fatty fish are also associated with a stronger skin barrier and decreased skin-damaging inflammation. 

One of the most popular types of fatty fish is salmon, which has additional skin health benefits. It contains a carotenoid antioxidant called astaxanthin. In a 2014 study, people who consumed astaxanthin and collagen for 12 weeks experienced considerable improvements in skin elasticity and hydration. However, it is uncertain if astaxanthin, collagen, or the combination of both did the trick. 

In addition, fatty fish are rich in protein, which is vital for producing collagen and elastin, and selenium – a mineral and antioxidant, which may help prevent and reduce skin damage from UV light. 

3. Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acids (ALA), which may help support a healthy skin membrane by keeping it plump and hydrated. 

Research shows that women who consume flax seeds or flax oil may have more hydrated and smoother skin. Nevertheless, more research is needed to support this claim. 

In addition to healthy fats, flaxseeds contain lignans (a type of polyphenol with antioxidant effects), which may protect you against certain chronic diseases. 

4. Avocados

Avocados are high in healthy monounsaturated fats, therefore they support a healthy skin membrane and promote skin health. The high antioxidant content in avocados, on the other hand, may help fight free radicals and prevent skin damage. 

5. Nuts

Loads of healthy fats can also be found in nuts. The anti-inflammatory omega-3s found in walnuts may help protect against sun damage, strengthen skin cell membranes, and give skin a youthful glow. 

Many nuts are also packed with vitamin E, which may help protect the skin tissue from UV rays and retain its moisture. 

Almonds may also help prevent cognitive decline in elderly people. 

Vegetables

Many veggies are full of carotenoids, such as beta carotene and lycopene. Evidence suggests that following a diet rich in carotenoids may help protect the skin against UV rays and thus premature skin aging. 

Vitamin C is another potent antioxidant, which plays a vital part in collagen production and thus helps the skin look young and healthy. 

Studies also suggest that it may be important to eat vegetables of different colors, as each color represents a different antioxidant with different skin and health benefits. 

1. Watercress

When it comes to vegetables, some are particularly beneficial for anti-aging purposes. One of the best anti-aging foods is watercress. It is packed with potassium, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, C, K, B-1, and B-2. 

Watercress has been shown to increase circulation and delivery of minerals, promoting skin oxygenation. Vitamins A and C are also powerful antioxidants that help neutralize free radicals and prevent wrinkles. 

2. Red Bell Pepper

Red bell peppers are packed with anti-aging antioxidants. They are rich in vitamin C, which boosts collagen production, plus, they contain lots of carotenoids – plant pigments with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. 

Carotenoids are known to protect skin from sun damage, pollution, and environmental toxins. 

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is loaded with anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. It contains a large variety of healthy nutrients, including vitamins C and K, fiber, folate, calcium, lutein, and a wide selection of antioxidants. 

The vitamin C in broccoli may help boost the production of collagen – the protein that gives the skin its strength and elasticity. Lutein has been shown to protect the brain’s memory function. Additionally, calcium and vitamin K play a vital role in bone health and osteoporosis prevention. 

4. Spinach

Spinach is an anti-aging powerhouse. It has hydrating properties, plus, it is rich in antioxidants, which help oxygenate and replenish the entire body. 

Spinach is packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K, magnesium, lutein, and plant-based heme iron. 

The vitamin C in spinach is known to boost collagen production, keeping the skin firm. Vitamin A will keep your hair strong and shiny. And according to a study, vitamin K may help reduce inflammation in cells. 

5. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato is an anti-aging root vegetable. It is rich in beta-carotene – an antioxidant that gives the vegetable its distinct orange color. This antioxidant is converted to vitamin A in the body, which is associated with promoting skin elasticity, cell turnover, and youthful-looking skin. 

The tasty food is also high in vitamins C and E, which protect the skin and the entire body from free radicals, keeping us healthy and radiant.

Fruits

When it comes to anti-aging properties, some types of fruit are more beneficial than others.

1. Pomegranates

Pomegranates are rich in healthy nutrients, including potassium, fiber, vitamin K, and antioxidants, like flavonols, tannins, phenolic acids, and lignans. 

Studies show that antioxidants in pomegranates decrease UV skin damage, protect the skin’s collagen, and support its production, promoting healthy skin aging. 

2. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed with healthy nutrients. One of the most beneficient nutrients in tomatoes is their impressive lycopene content. 

Studies show that lycopene may also protect the skin against damaging UV rays. 

In a 2013 study, women who drank an antioxidant-rich drink containing lycopene, fish oil, soy isoflavones, and vitamins C and E every day for 15 weeks experienced a considerable decrease in wrinkle depth. It is inconclusive, though, which of these nutrients had the biggest impact on skin health. 

To boost the body’s lycopene absorption, eat tomatoes with healthy fats, such as avocado and olive oil. 

3. Papaya

Papaya is loaded with countless antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, such as calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamins A, B, C, K, and E, which seem to improve skin elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. As such, it is considered an anti-aging superfood. 

According to a 2017 study, the antioxidants found in papaya help combat free radical damage and delay signs of aging. 

Moreover, papaya contains papain – an enzyme with powerful anti-inflammatory properties and anti-aging benefits. Papain can also be found in several cosmetic (especially exfoliating) products. 

4. Blueberries

Blueberries are high in vitamins C and A, and they also contain huge amounts of anthocyanin – an antioxidant packed with anti-aging properties. 

Studies have shown that these powerful antioxidants may help prevent collagen loss and reduce inflammation, thus protecting the skin against stress, pollution, and sun damage. 

Healthy Protein

According to studies, one of the keys to healthy young-looking skin is eating a diet full of healthy protein, as protein promotes collagen production. 

Protein-rich foods include:

  • Fish
  • Chicken
  • Eggs
  • Tofu

Green Tea

Green tea is rich in antioxidants and thus works well against cell-damaging free radicals and oxidative stress. The antioxidants in green tea can stabilize free radicals and reduce the risk of neurological decline, chronic disease, and premature aging. 

Green tea is packed with antioxidants called polyphenols, which have been shown to help reduce external skin aging caused by environmental stressors, like the sun and pollution. 

Also, make sure to drink lots of water and (non-sugary and non-alcoholic) fluids in general, as staying hydrated is vital for youthful skin and overall health. 

Dark Chocolate

While other sweets and sugary foods promote aging, dark chocolate (or cocoa) is rich in polyphenols, which act as antioxidants. It is packed with flavanols, which have been shown to protect the skin from sun damage and aging. According to a study, they may promote skin elasticity and reduce facial wrinkles. 

As these flavanols can be found in cocoa, it’s important to opt for chocolate with a high (70% or more) cocoa content and low amounts of added sugar. 

Lifestyle Changes to Reverse Aging

Supplements

Even though you may follow a healthy diet, there is still a good chance that you are unable to consume sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals daily. To make sure, you should consider taking supplements. 

Vitamin C, for example, is an effective antioxidant. Vitamin E and alpha-lipoic acid are also great for anti-aging. However, some prefer to take a daily multivitamin, which should cover all of your daily vitamin and mineral needs. 

Taking collagen supplements full of collagen peptides may also have a positive effect on your skin and joints. Evidence shows that it may improve skin elasticity, firmness, and moisture. 

Exercise

One of the simplest and most important things you can do to slow down aging is to exercise regularly. Exercise has a major impact on your physical, mental, and cognitive health. 

For example, studies show that aerobic exercise, such as running, cycling, and brisk walking, is associated with better brain health and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 

Another study has shown that running several times a week may improve mobility, increase life quality, and slow down aging in older adults. 

Studies have also shown that people who sit less and exercise more have longer telomeres than inactive adults. According to a 2017 study, exercisers had a nine-year aging advantage. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) has been shown to be most effective. It increases telomere length and slows down aging. 

Sleep

Getting enough sleep is vital for both physical and mental health. Sleep duration is also associated with longer telomeres. According to the 2014 study, sleeping six hours or less is associated with shorter telomeres, while sleeping nine hours is linked to longer telomeres. As such, most experts recommend sleeping 7 to 9 hours a night. 

Relax and Meditate

According to a renowned neuroscientist, Sara Lazar, meditation could slow down or even reverse age-related atrophy of the brain. 

During a 2014 study review, experts found that meditation practices may be able to reverse age-related cognitive decline and possibly even increase cognitive capabilities in older people.

Sex

A 2017 study of 129 women found that women who had sex with their partner during the week had considerably longer telomeres and much more telomerase (the enzyme that boosts telomere growth) than women who didn’t. 

However, it is uncertain if having sex results in telomere growth or if women with longer telomeres are more interested in having sex. Still, the correlation is intriguing. 

Additional Tips to Slow Down the Effects of Aging

When it comes to healthy skin aging, ceratin beauty products have been shown to have a considerable impact on it. 

  • Sunscreen

Ultraviolet or UV radiation has a harmful effect on the skin. It damages the skin fibers, causing them to lose elasticity. As such, it is important to wear sunscreen and to protect your skin from the sun. 

  • Gentle cleanser

While scrubbing your skin can damage your skin and speed up skin aging, washing it gently to remove makeup and dirt, on the other hand, has been shown to have the opposite effect. 

  • Moisturizer

After cleansing your skin, make sure to moisturize it properly. A moisturizer will keep your skin hydrated and youthful by trapping the water inside. 

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