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Many natural health practitioners believe that food can be both the best form of medicine and the worst contributor to disease. When it comes to the aging, many believe that the types of food you eat can either speed up or slow down the process.

Everyone knows that one of the keys to weight loss and healthy living is a wholesome diet. Cutting out processed foods and filling your plate with fresh vegetables is an effective way to shed pounds and improve overall health. Recent studies now show that consuming plenty of fresh produce may have another advantage...longevity. Fruits and vegetables are low in calories and loaded with nutrition, so it’s really no surprise that they are believed to contain powerful anti-aging properties as well. In addition to fruits and vegetables, there are several other foods that make the top of the anti-aging list.

Berries

When it comes to fruits containing high levels of antioxidants and anti-aging properties, berries are at the top of the list. Berries are effective at fighting off the free radicals that can lead to cell damage throughout the body. These molecules, when damaged, can result in chronic inflammation leading to a host of unhealthy conditions. The chronic inflammation that occurs is persistent and does not heal in time the same way an inflamed injury would eventually heal. This type of inflammation is believed to be responsible for the development of such health conditions as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, osteoporosis and cancer. Not only do the antioxidants in berries ward off this inflammation, they also have amazing memory-boosting potential to protect against dementia and age-related memory loss. The large amount of vitamin C found in berries helps smooth wrinkles by eliminating free radicals in skin cells, leaving your complexion looker smoother and younger.

Dark Leafy Greens

Also high in antioxidants, dark leafy greens such as spinach and kale are chock full of anti-aging properties such as lutein and zeaxanthin. These plant pigments help to shield the eyes from the damaging effects of UV light. This helps to preserve eyesight and keep vision sharp. Dark leafy greens are especially rich in vitamin K, which helps to maintain strong bones and reduce bone loss. This helps protect against fractures and breaks.

Protein-Rich Foods

Parents know that protein is important for growing children and teens, but it becomes even more critical for adults. After he age of 40, muscle mass begins to decline significantly, on average by about 1% each year. Not only does that affect the muscles, but it also leads to a significant decline in metabolism. The combination of these two factors makes it easier to pack on the pounds. With added weight gain comes a decrease in balance, lack of strength, impaired ability to recover from an injury and an increased risk of developing heart disease. Filling up on protein-rich foods such as lean chicken and turkey breasts without the skin, seafood, beans, dairy and eggs will help keep muscle mass intact, keep bones healthy and strong and even keep blood pressure at healthy levels.

Fish Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The Omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood help to prevent chronic inflammation. There is evidence that suggests that eating Omega-3 rich fish can help boost brain function and improve memory and mood. Fish high in these healthy fats include salmon, tuna, mackerel and other fresh water fish.

Foods That Cause Aging

We all know that there are certain foods that we should avoid. Processed foods, foods high in fat, fried foods...these can all wreak havoc on the body. Not only will they cause weight gain, lack of energy, a weakened immune system and an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels, but they can also speed up the aging process.

Sugar

Sugar is one of the most damaging foods to the body. It’s well known that sugar can lead to excess weight gain and an increased risk of diabetes, but some of its other damaging effects are not well known. Sugar can initiate a chronic inflammatory response in the body, leading to increased risk for a host of medical conditions. Because it can wreak havoc on the entire body, sugar accelerates the aging process. But not all sugar is created equal. While you want to stay away from table sugar, syrups, dextrose, fructose, glucose and any processed sugar, you can treat yourself to naturally occurring sugars such as those founds in fresh fruits.

Hydrogenated Fats / Trans-Fats

With the exception of healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, just about all other fats are a big no-no when it comes to aging and overall health n general. Artificial fats, such as hydrogenated fats and trans-fats, are at the top of the list of unhealthy foods. And for good reason. These unhealthy fats can lead to chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, obesity an elevated cholesterol levels. They can be found in fried foods, processed foods, commercially prepared baked foods, and fast food. Top offenders include deep fried foods, margarine, vegetable shortening and partially hydrogenated oils. When buying processed foods, always rad the food labels to determine if they contain these unhealthy fats.

Processed and Packaged Foods

Right there with unhealthy fats is processed and packaged foods. Whole foods are a staple in a healthy diet. Unfortunately, many Americans consume a diet that consists of too many processed foods. Processed foods include those foods that are highly altered form their original state, such as packaged foods, refined grains, pasteurized dairy and processed meats. Whole grains are brimming with nutrition, however, when grains are refined, they lose almost all of their nutritional value. After all the nutrients are stripped during processing, the grains are nutritionally bankrupt and can have the same damaging effects as sugar that can contribute to the aging process. Also known to accelerate aging is the addition of nitrates and preservatives to meats. Dairy products that have been pasteurized can also speed up aging. The process involves heating the dairy products to kill of bacteria. Unfortunately, the high heat also kills off digestive enzymes and renders at last half of the calcium un-absorbable.

 Alcohol

While the occasional glass of red wine or beer isn’t necessarily detrimental to an otherwise healthy person, anything beyond moderate alcohol intake can lead to inflammation of the liver and esophagus. There are many studies that suggest that one glass of wine per day can have beneficial effects on the heart, but this doesn’t mean you should go out and take up drinking if you aren’t currently doing so. While alcohol in moderation seems to be okay, the damaging effects of high consumption levels can lead to an accelerated rate of aging. Not only can it damage internal organs, but it can lead to por skin quality and premature aging of the skin.  

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