Happy, Healthy Ageing
A client emailed me this week, during the covid-19 lockdown, to say she feels she has aged ten years in the last three weeks of lockdown! So, I decided happy, health ageing would be the focus of this week's blog. I can certainly empathise with my client, as at 43, and with two young children at home during lockdown, I also feel like I have aged considerably in the last few weeks!!
Have you heard of telomeres?
In each of your cells there are 46 strands of DNA curled into chromosomes. At the tip of each chromosome, there is a very small cap, which is known as a telomere - think of it as the plastic tip on the end of your shoelace. This tiny cap ensures that your DNA does not fray and unravel. However, each time your cells divide, a little of that cap is lost. Telomeres start shortening as soon as you’re born, and when they’re gone you’re gone!
So what can be done to prevent telomere loss? Smoking cigarettes has been associated with three times the rate of telomere loss – so stopping smoking is vital if you want to prevent the telomere loss.
Also, the food you consume can have an effect on the rate at which you lose your telomeres. Eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and foods packed with antioxidants has been linked to longer telomeres, and consuming refined grains, meat, fizzy drinks, and dairy has been associated with shorter telomeres.
Three of the best foods for anti-ageing include:
Salmon contains significant amounts of a super antioxidant and carotenoid called astaxanthin, which is known for its incredible anti-aging benefits. This powerful pigment provides salmon with a red hue and has been associated with the promotion of healthy vision, increased brain and heart health.
Often called the “king of carotenoids,” several studies have determined that astaxanthin is one of the most powerful antioxidants, and its power in fighting free radicals, has been recognised to be 6,000 times higher than vitamin C, 550 times higher than vitamin E and 40 times higher than beta-carotene!
Additionally, it has been shown to protect against several chronic disease ailments, combat skin aging and ease inflammation. Although research in humans is fairly limited, the current studies determine that astaxanthin improves not just brain and heart health, but also energy levels and fertility.
Consuming nuts as part of your diet can help to prevent chronic disease, such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and cancer. Nuts contain both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have been identified as being able to reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, due to vascular factors being associated with cognition, nuts may be able to decrease cognitive decline in older persons.
Some of the best nuts to consume for anti-aging include cashews, chestnuts pecans, pine-nuts and walnuts. Nuts should be consumed as part of a balanced diet.
Blueberries have been identified as a food, which may delay aging and promote longevity. , They are rich in anthocyanins, a compound lauded for its anti-aging benefits, such as reducing cellular damage brought about by free radicals.
Most studies conducted on the benefits of blueberries concentrate on their cognitive benefits, defending memory-associated regions in the brain from oxidative damage and reducing age-related damage to brain cells.
However, one study with 93,000 female subjects, found that individuals who consumed three or more portions of blueberries and strawberries a week had a 32% reduced risk of a heart attack compared with the women who consumed berries once a month or less. Additionally, a smaller study with 48 post-menopausal female participants, concluded that women who were given blueberry powder supplements over eight weeks experienced a small, but clinically significant, drop in blood pressure. Blueberries are a great choice as one of your fruit and vegetable portions a day as they are high in nutrients, including phenolic compounds with greater antioxidant ability than vitamins C and E even!