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March 5, 2011

The quest for the fountain of youth

From the Mayfly to the magnificent oak, it’s a fact, everything in nature ages. Longevity of course, is relative. The Mayfly lives for just one day and the oak lives for decades. Each unique life form has its own healthy lifespan and that of humans is increasing. We have an aging population suffering from all manner of degenerative diseases. Medicine is extending the length of our lives, but what about the quality of our lives?

What is aging?

There are many theories. One is that when a cell divides a portion of it is lost, however a special enzyme steps in to allow its replacement, without which, a cell will reach its old age. Other theories point to cell DNA damage and changes in cell protein structure. Many studies have shown that longevity is promoted when calorie intake is reduced. The Okinawan people of Japan have been extensively studied for their longevity. The average Okinawan eats around 1200 calories per day. Calorie restriction encourages the body to go into self preservation mode, causing it to produce more DHEA, a hormone-like substance responsible for slowing down the aging process.

Getting radical

Free radicals cause cell damage and contribute to aging. They are unstable molecules running havoc around our bodies pinching electrons from healthy cells. This is a natural part of the body’s activity, however much of the damage occurs due to poor diet, smoking, stress, heavy metals and other environmental factors.

Anti-aging superheros

Antioxidants. They protect our cells and generously sacrifice themselves in the process. They are our cellular Superman “mopping up” free radicals, ending the chain of damage. Plants are loaded with them and their pigments contain different ones. As they work better as a team, getting many colours into your diet will enhance their synergy and potency.

Glow from the inside

Make your plate a rainbow – eat blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, blackberries, goji berries and colourful vegetables

Increase omegas such as raw nuts, seeds, avocados and oily fish. They plump up the skin by building the cell walls and protect the brain

Eat foods in their natural state. Processed foods cause free-radical damage

Avoid over-eating

  • Eat high fibre foods  to clean the bowels for increased energy and less toxicity, making you feel and look youthful and vibrant
  • Stay hydrated – water not only plumps up skin it allows all body cells to function effectively
  • Stay active – exercise promotes health and increases DHEA production, increases blood flow to the skin flooding it with nutrients and flushing out toxins
  • Build strong family and community relationships. Research shows that those with emotional support live longer, healthier lives
  • Address your stress. Over-worked adrenal glands reduce vitality
  • Detox regularly. Toxicity makes us sluggish and look old and tired
  • See a nutritionist to address your specific lifestyle and nutritional needs – anti-aging supplements include COQ10, alpha lipoic acid, astaxanthin, acetylcholine, beta carotene, vitamin E, selenium, lutein, lycopene and vitamin C

Don’t wait until tomorrow

Healthy lifestyle changes can add years to your life and make you feel great NOW. You know the age-old (excuse the pun) adage – prevention is better than cure. And remember, be happy! Being youthful is not just about the way you look, but facing the world with childlike wonder, embracing change and seeing the world anew each and every day.

Article by Jo Rowkins dipNT MBANT, nutritionist, founder of awakening health and executive health adviser of The Spa Resorts.

 

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