Many people will spend sack loads of money on anti-ageing creams, facial surgical procedures and other cosmetic processes that claim to restore youthfulness or chunk off some years from their looks.
Yet, experts say we can save ourselves from the feelings of helplessness that ageing — especially premature ageing — foist on us. They contend that dietary habits can either delay or speed up the ageing process, depending on what you take into your mouth.
Nutritionists warn that certain poor eating habits do more than make you fat and tired, they simply make you age from the inside out.
American physician and author, Dr. Joseph Mercola, warns that though genetics may play a role in how long we live, it shouldn’t be the final determining factor if we maintain healthy dietary lifestyle.
Indeed, a new study of twins published in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a journal of the American Heart Association, reveals that eating Mediterranean-style diet — one that is rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in saturated fats — promotes heart function even in men who are genetically predisposed to poor heart health.
The study leader, who is also an Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology in the Applied Health Science Department at Indiana University in Bloomington, Dr, Jun Dai, notes that the autonomic system that controls an individual’s heart rate works better in people who eat diets rich in fish, legumes, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and nuts; and who use spices and herbs to flavour foods rather than salt; and who take wine in moderation.
“The diet is known to reduce the risk of coronary disease,” Dai enthuses.
The study concludes that despite a person’s genetic make-up, he can still take actions to positively affect his health. “Even if you don’t have good genes, you can still choose a healthy diet that will give you a greater likelihood of having good heart autonomic function,” Dai argues.
According to Professor of Nutrition at Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Ignatius Onimawo, too much sugar and processed foods, combined with insufficient exercise, are three principal agents that make you age speedily.
He says, “These agents increase insulin and leptin receptor resistance in the body, and they are the leading cause of premature ageing and death.”
Scientists say eating well will enable you to control your blood pressure, curb obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol — all of which can spell doom when they are allowed to get out of hand as a result of bad diet.
Scientists who research longevity say that through decades of meticulous studies, they have discovered that people who live up to advanced age tend to eat large amounts of whole, unprocessed, minimally cooked plants.
“Such people also live in areas that promote regular physical activity, such as daily walking,” says Dr. Dave Woynarowski, who leads a team of globally acclaimed medical doctors in the fields of anti-ageing and prevention.
There’s an African adage which, when translated, says, the skin is the best gauge for a pleasant living condition. This much was confirmed by a dermatologist, Dr. Tunde Abegunde, who says good nutrition is a fundamental building block of healthy skin.
He warns that though many people may balk at the thought of eating foods that border much on vegetarian diet, too much consumption of animal proteins are unhealthy and can lead to critical imbalances in the body by sapping you of energy, draining minerals from the bones and cells, and actually speeding up the ageing process.
The dermatologist says, “The natural ingredients in whole foods help to increase cell turnover and boost production of collagen fibres that help to keep the skin smooth and firm.
“On the contrary, foods with little or no nutritional benefits, like sugary snacks and drinks, can actually damage the collagen and elastin that otherwise should keep the skin firm and youthful.”
Worse still, if you prefer coffee to tea, scientists say, prepare for wrinkled skin the way someone who drink green tea may not have to.
In fact, research suggests that green and black tea contain protective compounds — like EGCG and theaflavins — that help prevent skin cancers and the breakdown of collagen, the cause of wrinkles. Scientists suggest that these two potent antioxidants also have therapeutic applications in the treatment of many disorders, including cancer.
“When you drink these teas on a regular basis, therefore, in addition to taking balanced diet, you may successfully stave off ageing for a couple of years,” researchers say.
Nutrition specialist at MART-Life Detox Clinic, Lagos, Mrs. Idowu Ashiru, posits that an incredible amount of evidence shows that eating junk foods puts your body into an inflammatory state. “And ageing is basically a chronic inflammatory state,” she enthuses.
Some of the foods to avoid, nutritionists warn, include cookies, crackers, cakes, muffins, fried foods, unhealthy snacks, candies, etc. The list is endless because these foods are available on the go and they appeal to sight and senses, which make them irresistible to many.