As much as we may want to hold back the passage of time, it’s still going to fly by! Kids will grow up, we’ll develop gray hair and crow’s-feet, and we will slow down. Even so, we can mitigate how it affects our bodies. We can also take precautionary steps to manage the cosmetic results of aging and (hopefully) stay ahead of Father Time.
Is It Possible to Reverse Aging?
As we age, our bodies naturally begin to break down. When we’re younger, we look and feel that way because our cells are regenerating at a rate that keeps us relatively healthy and all systems functioning as they should. Cells multiply, divide, perform their designated functions, and then die off, ultimately replaced by new cells that go through the same cycle. When we’re younger, this cycle is rather quick. As we get older, our cells lose their ability to function as efficiently.
This being said, some lifestyle practices increase the signs of aging more rapidly than others. A diet high in processed foods, for example, has been shown to increase the chance of chronic illness and premature aging. According to a 2020 study, eating three or more servings of processed food daily is associated with shorter telomeres, chromosome structures that indicate biological aging. This in turn is linked to a higher risk of developing chronic illnesses.
So is it possible to reverse aging? Technically, aging will still occur, but how quickly and how much of an impact it has on the body depends on a few key diet and lifestyle practices. As the saying goes, “Age is just a number!”
Six Ways to Naturally Reverse Aging
1. Eat a healthy diet.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle can slow both the internal and external effects of aging. Following an eating plan like the Mediterranean Diet has been shown to lower levels of inflammation. Inflammation can exacerbate and even cause conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, asthma, and irritable bowel syndrome. If left unchecked, inflammation becomes chronic – which can take years off your life and age you faster.
2. Stay active.
Exercise is a great way to continue looking and feeling young! Regular exercise is recommended to lower the chance of developing chronic conditions. Physical activity can help lower your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer, all of which not only accelerate aging but also increase the risk of premature death.
3. Wear sunscreen.
The state of your skin is one of the most obvious signs of aging. Exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays rapidly increases the rate of damage to skin cells. Aside from causing cancer, sun damage can also cause wrinkles, age spots, and blemishes. Sunscreen can prevent sun damage and help maintain healthy, clear skin. Dermatologists recommend a broad-spectrum sunscreen that has an SPF of at least 30.
4. Engage your brain.
Keeping your brain active can reduce the chance of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Interacting with others and participating in brain-stimulating activities, such as chess or crossword puzzles, play a part in keeping your mind sharp.
5. Enjoy alcohol – in moderation.
Enjoying the occasional glass of red wine is fine – some doctors even recommend it for a healthy heart – but too much alcohol can wreak havoc on your body and age you prematurely. Overconsuming alcohol can lead to liver inflammation, heart disease, a decline in cognitive abilities, and cancer.
6. Get enough sleep.
Getting enough sleep is imperative for preventing premature aging. A UCLA study found that just one night of insufficient sleep can make an older adult’s cells age more quickly. The National Sleep Foundation recommends at least seven hours of sleep per night for adults.
Healthy Foods That Can Keep You Younger
The foods we eat play a large role in how well we age. Eating highly processed foods can affect the health of our bodies and how old we look, while eating a balanced, well-rounded diet with whole foods plus plenty of vitamins and minerals can help you feel young for years to come.
Olive oil is a super-popular kitchen ingredient, and for good reason. Extra-virgin olive oil (meaning it hasn’t been diluted with other refined oils, like canola) contains anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. Extra-virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal and oleic acid, antioxidants that have been shown to reduce inflammation levels.
This sweet fruit is packed with a wide variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that may help improve the elasticity of your skin and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Some of these include calcium, magnesium, potassium, and vitamins C and E.
Getting your greens is even more important than you think. According to one study, people who ate at least two servings of leafy greens per day improved their cognitive function drastically – comparable to making their brains five years younger. Researchers think it’s attributed to the high levels of antioxidant vitamin E in veggies; the green, leafy variety packs the strongest vitamin punch.
Like papaya, blueberries offer anti-aging skin benefits. Collagen, which relies on the presence of vitamin C, is what makes the skin elastic and helps prevent skin damage from both UV rays and environmental pollution. One serving (around one cup) of blueberries contains nearly a quarter of the recommended daily value of vitamin C.
The risk for developing metabolic syndrome (a condition that includes diabetes, stroke, and heart disease) naturally increases as you age – but that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. Besides being a delicious snack, avocado contains carotenoids, vitamins, fiber, and good fat, all of which can help lower your risk. Avocado oil is great for the health of your eyes and skin and has been shown to protect against macular disease, which can lead to vision problems later in life. The oil from avocado also boosts collagen production, which helps improve the appearance of skin.
Pomegranate seeds are packed with vitamins and minerals, and they’re very high in vitamin C. Pomegranate seeds also contain many antioxidants, which help protect the body against inflammation and free radical damage. Free radical damage contributes to everything from sagging skin to cancer.
Green tea, or matcha, can help your skin look younger and has the potential to prevent skin cancer. Green tea contains compounds called polyphenols, and studies confirm that the polyphenols in green tea contain epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant with strong anti-inflammatory properties.
A delicious and healthy addition to your diet, eggs contain powerful brain-boosting nutrients and antioxidants along with a good dose of selenium and vitamins A, B2, B5, and B12. B vitamins are critical for cellular processes and cognition. Looking to incorporate more eggs into your diet? Check out the healthiest ways to cook them.
Peppers – specifically, red bell peppers – contain antioxidants called carotenoids. Carotenoids are the plant-based pigments responsible for the bright colors you see in many fruits and vegetables. They have anti-inflammatory properties and can help protect your skin from sun damage, air pollution, and environmental toxins. Red bell peppers are also high in vitamin C, which is good for collagen production.
The bottom line
Staying active, avoiding processed foods, and engaging your brain are all ways to improve your body internally, while staying out of the sun and consuming foods with collagen and vitamin C can help you improve your body externally. No single food or lifestyle practice can completely prevent aging, but when a healthy diet and lifestyle are combined, the physical and mental signs and symptoms of getting older can be dramatically slowed. Before changing your diet or lifestyle, consult with your primary care doctor about your concerns and unique needs.
IIN Content Writer
Katy holds a bachelor’s in English with a concentration in creative writing and advertising from Rider University. After jobs in the field of finance, she wanted to transition to an industry that focused on helping others be their best selves, and discovered IIN.
nutritionschoolThe gang’s all here. ✔️Here are some major reasons to wash and prep your produce:
🥕 Decreases ingestion of pesticides and unwanted chemical ... moreThe gang’s all here. ✔️Here are some major reasons to wash and prep your produce:
🥕 Decreases ingestion of pesticides and unwanted chemical residues
🥬 Helps germs from their surfaces before eating them. Think: Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria
🍋 Proper storage helps produce last longer and retain as many nutrients as possible
🥦 Prepping veggies increases ease and likelihood of using the fruits and veggies for snacks and recipes throughout your busy week!
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