Anti-ageing foods

Published by Sarah Horrocks
Published on 26 September 2008

The laws of nature make our bodies age. The body suffers from a process of oxidation that alters and degrades cells. This is caused by free radicals, which are molecules that do not have electrons. In search of their missing electron, free radicals destabilise other molecules, causing tissue to change and age. To neutralise these free radicals, fortunately the body has a formidable weapon - anti-oxidants, which are found in food. Here are some of the main ones.

Vitamins

A: dairy products, egg yolk, liver, fatty fish, meat. Provitamin A or betacarotene, which the body turns into Vitamin A depending on its needs: orange fruit and vegetables (carrots, melons, tomatoes and apricots) and green vegetables.

C: citrus fruit, kiwi fruit, red fruit, broccoli, spinach, parsely and watercress.

E: vegetable oil, oily fish, nuts, whole cereals and wheat germ.

Vegetable anti-oxidants

Lycopene (carotenoid): tomatoes, red cabbage, water melon.

Quercetine (flavonoid): onion, shallots, broccoli.

Minerals and nuts

Selenium: fish, sea food, brown rice, wholemeal bread, red pepper, garlic, egg yolk.

Magnesium: nuts and dried fruit, mineral water, chocolate, whole cereals, pulses.

Calcium: dairy products, green vegetables.

Iron: red meat, blood sausage, pulses.

Zinc: shellfish, whole cereals.

Manganese: almonds and whole wheat.

Fats

Unsaturated fatty acids: fatty fish, raw vegetables oils and nuts.

General advice

- Don’t wait till you're 40 to act! The body never rests and tissue degradation is permanent, even if it becomes more visible over time (dry skin, white hair, aching joints...). By eating an adequate diet when you're young, you can delay the appearance of these natural phenomena and keep your tone and vitality longer.

- Vary your diet. The key to youth is to eat a little of everything and make sure you eat enough fruit and vegetables, vegetable oil, fish, fresh dairy produce and whole cereals (these foods contain the most protective nutrients).

- Adopt good cooking methods. Light, air, heat, and time weaken nutrients and cause them to degrade. To benefit fully, eat your food as fresh as possible, keep it away from heat and light, avoid peeling or preparing it in advance and use quick methods such as steaming.

- Avoid external factors which accelerate the ageing process. Oxidation factors include tobacco, coffee, stimulants, pollution, medicines, stress, physical overload and processed food. If you want to stay looking younger for longer, limit your intake of alcohol and stimulants, don’t smoke, and eat a healthy diet based on simple, natural food.

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