When it comes to turning back the clock, food can be your most powerful medicine, or it can be your greatest weakness. I see it all the time—and the biological clock isn’t what determines health. I know 90-year-olds who have the energy and stamina of 20-somethings, women turning 50 who look and feel 30, and sadly, younger women who come in with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and aches and pains that you’d expect to see in someone much older. The common thread? Diet.
Knowing how to navigate the do’s and don’ts of nutrition will make or break your health when it comes to slowing and even reversing the aging process. I often talk of five main factors when it comes to aging—genetics, digestion and the gut, hormone balance, weight, and diet—but really all are critically influenced by what you do—and don’t—eat on a daily basis. Today, malnutrition in the United States and other First World countries is less about the availability of food and much more about navigating and avoiding the hordes of packaged and processed foods that are easy, convenient, and cheap to consume 24/7. To begin eating younger, the first step is to understand your body and your unique chemistry.
Now, maybe you are thinking, “Hold on! I’m born with my genetic makeup—I can’t change that.” Not true. Today we know that many genetic factors, especially how genes are expressed, can be changed by your environment—and this is especially true when it comes to what you put into YOUR environment—food! For example, you might be fast-tracked (thanks to the genes your parents gifted you) to be at risk of memory loss or heart disease, but you can change your genetics by following a diet and lifestyle activities that promote brain function and lower cardiovascular disease. Get it? As the field of genetics continues to expand, nutrition is without a doubt one of the key factors in aging and prevention.
Thankfully, today we also know that the right nutritional choices will keep you young by optimizing and balancing your hormones, gut, and weight.
What’s the best type of diet for reversing aging?
When it comes to anti-aging eating, most nutrition research recommends that the best diet is a semi-vegetarian, Mediterranean-style way of eating. This diet maximizes fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, and healthy fats and minimizes refined and processed sugars and carbohydrates, dairy, and unhealthy fats. This diet has been shown to be higher in omega-3 fats, lower in omega-6 fats, and has a low glycemic index/load. As a quick reminder, omega-3 fats are the fats that help support the brain and hormones and also help fight inflammation. Omega-6 fats are those that are pro-inflammatory in our diets—meats, dairy, common cooking oils like canola, soy bean and corn oil, etc., all have omega-6 fats.
So, what does an age-defying day of eating look like?
Throughout the day you want to avoid: