Read an Excerpt
Foods That Combat Aging
The Nutritional Way to Stay Healthy Longer
Fight Aging Now
You are fortunate to live in a time when the field of anti-aging medicine has become a vital and increasingly well-researched area of medicine. Health-care practitioners who are involved in anti-aging medicine are excited by the forward-thinking nature of this new approach, which involves helping people take the steps necessary to maximize quality of life in their later years. Basically, anti-aging medicine is concerned with three concepts.
- Prevention: taking steps to prevent the development of diseases and ailments associated with growing older. Proper nutrition is a key element of prevention.
- Integration: combining the best of both worlds—conventional and alternative/complementary medicine—to achieve anti-aging goals.
- Holism: recognizing and treating people as whole beings composed of many integrated parts that work together. Thus an anti-aging approach to arthritis of the hip addresses all the factors that have an impact on arthritis, including diet, exercise level, social needs, stress management, emotional health, supplementation, and pharmaceuticals.
Eat for Longevity
Three or more times a day, you have a chance to fight aging with food! Your food choices are one of the most important ways you impact your health, and so it's vitally important that you understand the basics behind what makes certain foods good partners in the fight against aging. We say "partners" because although healthy food choices are key purely on a nutritional level, they also work hand-in-hand withother factors in the effort to ward off aging, namely, exercise, stress management, supplementation, and hormone balancing. In this book we focus on nutrition, but in this chapter we also explain the relationship between wise food choices and these other factors that impact aging.
Be Sugar Smart
This section could be called "Be Carb Smart," but we want to impress upon you that when we talk about carbohydrates, we're really talking about sugars. That's because all carbohydrates are broken down (metabolized) into simple sugars. Therefore, because sugars are the bottom line when it comes to carbohydrates and their metabolism, we think it's important to begin there. Once you see the connection between carbs and aging, you'll never look at carbs quite the same way again. Here's the story.
Carbs come in two forms: simple or refined, and complex. Simple sugars include table sugar and natural sugars found in fruits, honey, and milk. Refined carbs are in white flour, white rice, baked goods, and refined pasta. Simple/refined sugars not only get stored as fat if you eat too much of them, but they also cause blood glucose levels to rise. Elevated blood glucose levels, especially chronically, can lead to insulin resistance (when the body cannot produce enough insulin or cannot adequately use the insulin it does produce) and eventually result in diabetes and its many complications, including heart disease, kidney disease, nerve disorders, and blindness.
But the link between carbs and aging is this: high blood glucose (sugar) levels accelerate aging through a process called glycation. Glycation is a natural occurrence in which glucose molecules and certain fat molecules interact with and attach to protein molecules, forming AGEs—advanced glycation end-products—and damage the protein. Wrinkling of skin is one example of what glycation can do, as collagen and other proteins in skin are damaged by glucose. Although glycation occurs in everyone, it speeds up when there's a lot of glucose present. The rest of the bad news is that glycation is not reversible, so the goal is to prevent it as much as possible. How do you do that?
What You Can Do Now
You can be sugar smart and keep your blood glucose levels in a healthy range (ideally, a fasting glucose level that is less than 100 mg/dL). Since carbohydrates are a key energy source, you need to provide your body with the best fuel in the form of smart carbs—complex carbs rather than simple ones. Complex carbs are more complicated in structure and generally higher in nutritional value than simple carbs. A diet that includes a moderate amount of carbs (about 50% of total caloric intake), mostly the complex type, can help keep blood glucose levels in check, as complex carbs generally cause a moderate increase in blood glucose levels while simple ones cause a sharp, rapid (and unhealthy) rise.
Another factor to consider is the glycemic index, which is a gauge of how quickly foods convert into glucose. Foods with a low value (generally 50 or lower) convert into glucose slower, which keeps blood glucose levels more balanced throughout the day and thus helps fight aging. Here are some smart carb tips, followed by a sample glycemic index.
- Choose brown or wild rice instead of white rice.
- Substitute whole-wheat or other whole-grain breads, rolls, and bagels for their white flour cousins.
- Include one to two servings (1⁄2 cup per serving) of beans daily: lima, butter, white, pinto, black, soy, kidney, or garbanzo.
- Choose yams or sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.
- Include one serving of oatmeal or all-bran cereal daily.
- Choose whole fresh fruits for dessert.
- Choose a whole-grain pasta (wheat, spelt, buckwheat, rye) instead of white pasta.
- Significantly reduce or eliminate white sugar and white sugar products from your diet.
- If you use fruit juices or fruit products, choose unsweetened varieties: unsweetened apple sauce, juices and nectars, canned or jarred fruits (in natural juices only).
Good Fat/Bad Fat
It's become common practice to classify fat into two categories—"good" and "bad"—to make it easier to identify which ones you should include more of in your diet and which ones to reduce or avoid. Certainly when we talk about fighting aging, we want to optimize the benefits of good fats and minimize the damage from the bad ones.
First you should understand that "fat" comes in four main types: saturated, polyunsaturated (which includes omega-3 and omega-6), monounsaturated, and trans fats. Fat is essential for life: most of the body's organs—especially the brain—could not function without it. . . .Foods That Combat Aging
The Nutritional Way to Stay Healthy Longer. Copyright © by Deborah Mitchell. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. <%END%>