Bridge to Health Blog
Bridge to Health Blog

Eat well, age well

Written by Emily Fawell   Posted in:Nutrition   November 26, 2019

Eat well, age well

What if there was a secret to ageing well, free from degenerative disease, aches and pains, fatigue and tired looking skin? Well there is, and the secret is found on your plate!

A nutritious diet will contain all the elements you need to age well…

Fruit and vegetables
Researchers have established the link between longevity and fruit and vegetable consumption:
“Higher consumption of fruit and vegetables is associated with a reduced risk of all-cause mortality, with an average reduction in risk of 5% for each additional serving a day (6% for fruit and 5% for vegetables)” BMJ 2014;349:g4490

There are many reasons why fruit and veg are vital for longevity:

  • They contain antioxidants that fight free radical damage in the body. We are exposed to free radicals every second of our lives from pollution, cigarette smoke, pesticides, stress, exercise and sun light, and they cause oxidation in the body. Whilst the body does create its own antioxidants to help fight the damage caused by free radicals, it is greatly helped by a regular intake from our diets. Brightly coloured fruit and veg contain the highest numbers of antioxidants. Think blueberries, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes, kale and spinach
  • They are full of fibre, which keeps the digestive function working optimally to excrete toxins which could contribute to ageing. Fibre also helps keep cholesterol low thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.  It also helps maintain hormone balance by excreting old hormones
  • They are teeming with vitamins and minerals in their most absorbable form which helps the body to stay in tip top condition.  This is especially important for bone health as the calcium, magnesium and other minerals we need for strong bones are more readily absorbed from vegetables than dairy sources
  • One vitamin that is in abundance in fruit and vegetables is Vitamin C.  It is a key component of collagen which is the protein that makes up tissue in the body and keeps our skin and joints supple

Good fats
Good fats such as those found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocadoes are a vital part of our diets if we want to age well.

  • Omega 3 found in oily fish, walnuts, flaxseed and chia seeds combat inflammation in the body, and inflammation is inextricably linked to degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancer
  • Good levels of essential fats in the diet means that hormone signalling at a cellular level, such as that involved in insulin sensitivity, is much more effective as cell membranes are more fluid
  • The brain is about 60% fat and needs a regular supply of good fats in the diet to keep it working optimally. Consequences of a low-fat diet could be poor memory and recall, depression and anxiety
  • Good fats also transport key nutrients to the skin such as the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K - keeping our skin supple and wrinkle free

As we get older our sensitivity to thirst can diminish and we naturally become dehydrated. Water is vital for every cell in the body. Dehydration can be implicated in high blood pressure, headaches, fatigue, low mood and poor concentration. As a general rule we should be aiming to drink about 2 litres a day, and more in the heat or during/after exercise.

Protein (found in meat, fish, eggs, soya, beans, lentils, dairy products) is a vital part of our diets. The body uses the breakdown products of protein, amino acids, to make neurotransmitters and antibodies, repair muscles and a whole host of other functions.

Maintaining muscle mass is important as we age as a lack of muscle mass is linked to decreased longevity. A long-term study of more than 3,600 seniors found that more muscle mass was a better predictor of survival than was moderate body mass index (AJM 2014).

Exercise will help the body build muscle but we need the building blocks in our diet to facilitate this.  However, don’t go overboard with animal protein as it can exacerbate inflammation in the body.

Here are my top 5 tips for eating well to age well…
1.      Make sure you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables – aim for at least five portions a day
2.      Have a portion of berries every day (frozen berries are great when they are not in season)
3.      Have oily fish twice a week (salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, herring, trout)
4.      Ensure you are well hydrated – aim for two litres of water a day
5.      Have nuts and seed daily (a good source of protein as well as good fats)
If you would like some personalised nutrition advice please do get in touch. I offer a free 15-minute telephone consultation for you to explore whether you think you would benefit from Nutritional Therapy.

You can call me on 07967 639347.

Tags: Nutrition,

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