We’ve looked at the top five antiaging foods, as well as foods to avoid if you want to stay healthy for as long as possible.
While nothing can stop the progression of aging, there are some things that can slow it down or make it easier to adapt to our bodies and minds.
For many of us, losing mobility is a fear of aging, so we spoke to some experts to find out what you need to eat to promote flexible joints and reduce muscle wasting. As we age, the rate at which our cells renew slows, so we’ve also found some of the best foods that are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories to help your cells fight off free radicals.
After the age of 50, you may find yourself developing vitamin deficiencies as your body changes. We’ve put together guides for the The best vitamins for women over 50 and the best b12 supplements to help you take control of your health and well-being.
Can Food Slow Aging?
Your diet is one of the most important aspects of your health and also one of the easiest to control. While you may not be able to freeze time, you can eat healthy foods and avoid inflammatory foods that can negatively impact your future health.
Sophie Chabloz, who has an MsC in Food Science, Nutrition and Health from ETH Zurich and is co-founder and CPO of Avea life (opens in new tab), explains why our diet affects the aging process so much. “If you think about it, food is not only fuel for your body, but also energy to produce [it] also contains all the building blocks (the nutrients) needed to form new cells while replacing old damaged ones,” she says. “That’s why the quality of your food is critical to maintaining optimal cellular health and looking your best. Food really has the power to change every cell in your body. Fresh and healthy foods can slow and even reverse some of the signs of aging as they support your body and make you feel more energetic and vital. While processed inflammatory foods can really tax your system and even accelerate aging.”
5 antiaging foods to add to your diet
1. Lean meat
dr Brian Carson, Lecturer and Researcher in Exercise Physiology at the University of Limerick and co-founder of whole soup (opens in new tab) told us that muscle wasting associated with aging can be partially mitigated by adequate protein intake. “One aspect of our diet that could potentially help minimize the impact of aging on our health and independent living is our overall protein intake, as this helps us maintain healthy muscle mass and overall function,” he explains. “Populations that are struggling to meet their protein needs and would benefit most from higher protein intake are older adults due to the anabolic deadening in this population. This means older adults don’t respond the way their younger counterparts do from a muscle protein synthesis (or muscle building) standpoint.”
We recommend choosing lean protein sources like chicken or fish over red meat or highly processed meats like bacon, as these have been linked to negative health outcomes.
2. Fatty fish
dr Ioannis Liakas, Medical Director at See aesthetics (opens in new tab), a medical and cosmetic clinic on Harley Street, tells us that the essential fatty acids in oily fish can help with joint problems. “Omega-3 fats found in oily fish like tuna and sardines can fight inflammation in stiff joints,” he explains. “Stiffness in our wrists, finger joints, and hips is one of the earliest signs of arthritis.” A 2020 study in cells (opens in new tab) The journal also found that diet can be a factor influencing symptoms in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, so stock up on these sardines.
3. Fruits and vegetables with antioxidants
You may be wondering what is an antioxidant? Why do I have to eat them? An antioxidant is a substance that inhibits or removes oxidizing agents from the body. Vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium and carotenoids are examples of antioxidants that you are probably already consuming on a daily basis. Because antioxidants protect tissues from damage, they prevent inflammation from developing in the first place. The best thing you can do to get a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in your body is to “eat the rainbow.”
dr Liakas tells us about some of his favorite colorful fruits and vegetables, all of which are rich in antioxidants:
- “Blueberries: These are high in vitamins A and C, as well as an antioxidant called anthocyanin that defies aging. It gives blueberries a dark, stunning color,” he says.
- “Red Bell Peppers: In addition to being high in vitamin C — which is incredible for collagen production — red bell peppers contain powerful antioxidants called carotenoids. These have a broad spectrum of anti-inflammatory properties and can help protect skin from sun damage, pollution and environmental toxins.”
- “Broccoli: Broccoli is an anti-inflammatory, anti-aging powerhouse packed with a variety of vitamins ranging from vitamins C and K, a range of antioxidants, fiber and calcium.”
- “Papaya: Packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that may help improve skin elasticity and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.”
4. Nuts and seeds
dr Liakas explains, “Many nuts are a great source of vitamin E, which can help repair skin tissue, maintain skin hydration, and protect skin from harmful UV rays.” Nuts and seeds are also high in protein and fiber, which can help you increase your overall protein intake.
An important part of the Mediterranean diet, legumes are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals and are great for promoting overall health. They’re another great source of plant-based protein. So if you’re not a fan of meat, you can still increase your protein intake.
What constitutes an antiaging diet?
A review in British Journal of Nutrition (opens in new tab) shows that inflammatory markers in the body can give us an idea of how healthy a person is. These can be used to predict whether someone is likely to develop a disease. Therefore, a diet rich in antioxidants and foods with anti-inflammatory properties can be crucial in promoting successful aging as these can reverse the effects.
Chabloz is a big advocate of Mediterranean cuisine, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. “The gold standard for lifelong health and low inflammation remains the Mediterranean diet, which includes staple foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, seafood, nuts, legumes, and plenty of olive oil, along with small amounts of meat, eggs, and dairy.” She says. “Add some fermented foods for optimal gut health and you have a great anti-aging combo.”
An article in the Annual review of nutrition (opens in new tab) also shows that the consumption of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts has a positive effect on cardiometabolic risk. Not only does it reduce your risk of developing heart problems, but it can also help lessen the impact of pre-existing problems in this area. With this in mind, it’s never too late to implement an anti-aging diet for a happier heart.
What foods should you avoid as you age?
Chabloz explains that the quality of your diet is the most important aspect of successful aging. “Really, when it comes to longevity/anti-aging nutrition, the most important things are to choose high-quality (preferably organic) foods and stay away from processed foods with long ingredient lists, eat enough fiber from fruits and vegetables, and consume animal products in moderation (again, quality over quantity).”
dr Liakas tells us to limit our sodium and sugar intake to promote longevity. “It’s a well-recognized fact that too much salt can be a problem for older adults, especially if you have a history of high blood pressure,” she says. “An ice-cold Coke may seem very tempting when you’re hot and thirsty, but many drinks like this are high in sugar; Excess sugar also leads to obesity and other health problems. In addition, caffeine not only keeps many people from getting a good night’s sleep, but it can also increase anxiety and make your heart beat faster and more irregularly. Of course, we can’t forget that anything fried, like potato chips and french fries, can cause inflammation throughout the body and lower good cholesterol in the body.”
Take a look at other ways to adjust your lifestyle as you age with our roundup of Antiaging Exercises.