What science says about eating habits that actually slow aging: eat this, not that

Conversations about “staying young” and “slowing down the aging process” are everywhere, and all of this can get overwhelming, especially when you’re trying to decipher what’s true and what’s not.

Most of us have probably already heard that what you eat can affect how you age. But what exactly does this mean for us and how can we build eating habits that help us age healthily?

To get a better idea, here’s what science says about eating habits and how they can slow down the aging process. Read on, then check out the best breakfast habits for a faster metabolism after age 50.

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Chances are you’ve at least heard of the Mediterranean diet, especially in conversations about aging the healthy way. This diet draws inspiration from Italy and Greece and incorporates fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats like olives and olive oil. Fish is incorporated at times, but it is mostly plant-based. This diet also significantly limits the consumption of processed foods and added sugars.

The Mediterranean Diet has been praised for its impact on slowing cognitive decline, but what does the research actually say? In 2015, Advances in Nutrition Journal published a systematic review of the relationship between diet, dementia and brain aging.

According to this review, sticking to a Mediterranean diet with age has been associated with fewer episodes of dementia and Alzheimer’s, as well as slower cognitive aging. This was based on multiple types of studies (cross-sectional and longitudinal), evidence and meta-analyzes.

This review attributes some characteristics of the Mediterranean diet, such as antioxidants and monounsaturated fatty acids, to its impact on brain aging. Patterns of this diet are said to help reduce inflammation and oxidative stress, which are major contributing factors to dementia and cognitive decline.

elderly couple having breakfast
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When it comes to aging, science shows that inflammation may be a major contributor to accelerating the process. According to a meta-analysis by Research Reviews on Agingchronic low-grade inflammation can be a factor in many of the chronic diseases and illnesses that commonly occur with old age.

This review also found that eating or supplementing with omega-3s can significantly help reduce inflammation with age. Another study, published in The British Journal of Nutritionshows that along with omega-3s, foods such as whole grains and fiber and a variety of fruits and vegetables are also helpful in reducing inflammation with age.

RELATED: The # 1 Best Omega-3 Supplement 1 to take, says the dietician

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It is always possible that your doctor will advise you to supplement certain nutrients as you age, especially if there are specific areas of health that need attention. However, much research on diet and aging shows that a balanced diet that incorporates more nutrients is more effective than supplementation.

According to a recent article published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences, the consumption of all important macro and micronutrients through a wide range of foods such as whole grains, lentils, nuts, vegetables, fruits, etc., can have a significant impact on the pursuit of a healthy life as we age. With this in mind, they also note that a balanced diet that supports healthy aging also focuses on limiting the consumption of added sugars and heavily processed foods.

So while supplementation may be a good idea if advised by your doctor, focusing on a balanced diet complete with helpful macro and micronutrients is the key to slowing the aging process.

RELATED: 6 Best Foods to Lose Belly Fat and Slow Aging

happy woman looks at fair complexion in the mirror
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Your skin and how quickly it ages are affected by both internal and external factors, but many people are so focused on resolving external factors (by purchasing the right skin care) that they may not realize how much their complexion is affected by internal factors as well (their diet).

According to a report published in NutrientsThere are many different nutrients, vitamins and minerals that play unique roles in slowing the aging process of the skin. For example, proteins help repair skin tissue, vitamin B helps reduce inflammation and pigmentation, vitamin C helps with collagen synthesis, and water is essential for skin hydration and for reduce inflammation and signs of aging.

This report also notes that things like smoking, alcohol, a high-fat diet, and added sugars are associated with faster aging and skin damage. But, although your diet plays a key role in the skin aging process, we still recommend that you wear that SPF!

If you have questions about your diet and healthy aging, talk to your doctor or dietician about a helpful plan.

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