Many of you are aware that how you look and feel largely depends on what you put into your body. The health of your gut, brain, eyes, muscles, and even skin can be improved or worsened through your diet and lifestyle choices. This list highlights the best and worst substances for aging, and by adding or removing these items from your diet you can dramatically mediate the effects of time on your body and decrease your risk of age-related illnesses.
Five Best Anti-Aging Substances
Melatonin’s anti-stress properties, as well as its effects on the immune system, have been well researched for their anti-aging effects. Additional anti-aging benefits of melatonin include its ability to improve the microstructure of bones and protect the skin. Melatonin has also been studied for its beneficial effects on a variety of age-related diseases, including cancer.
Curcumin’s anti-aging effects come from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which work to suppress NF-kappaB-dependent inflammation, a type of inflammation believed to be responsible for the development of many age-related disorders in which cellular senescence (the loss of a cells ability to divide and grow) is involved, including cancer and atherosclerosis. Curcumin may also lower the risk for age-associated cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers believe that curcumin could be used as a therapeutic cognitive treatment for elderly adults.
Research has demonstrated that caffeine, a bioactive natural compound present in coffee, protects against oxidative stress-related skin disease. Caffeine may also protect against age-related cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, and a recent study found that drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee each day decreased the risk of these disorders by 65 percent. Although additional research is necessary to further study these effects, researchers are enthusiastic about coffee’s therapeutic benefits. Further, research suggests many of the benefits may stem not only from caffeine but from other natural compounds in coffee as well.
4. Grape Seed Extract
Grape seed extract is known for its high concentration of proanthocyanidins, a type of polyphenol known for its immunomodulating effects and ability to protect against oxidative stress and lower cholesterol. Proanthocyanidins also inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetes, two common diseases often associated with aging.
A common concern with aging is the appearance of the skin. Probiotics work to restore the acidic pH balance of skin and improve photoaging, premature aging of the skin caused by excess exposure to UV radiation, through the up-regulation of antioxidant components. Additionally, many degenerative diseases are related to imbalances of gut microbiota, microorganisms necessary for optimal nutrient metabolism. Changes in diet and microbial diversity throughout life may lead to a higher risk of infections and diseases, but researchers believe that a daily intake of probiotic supplements or foods may improve the aging process and reduce the risk of age-related disorders.
Five Worst Anti-Aging Substances
Properly nourishing your body with the right nutrients and lowering your exposure to the substances listed below are solid steps to decreasing your risk of age-related diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and obesity while also improving your quality of life, skin health, and gut microbiome.
1. Artificial Sweeteners
Researchers have found that intake of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose is associated with a higher risk of weight gain and may contribute to the risk of developing diabetes. Additional risks of artificial sweeteners include their adverse effects on the gut microbiome, increasing the risk of tissue inflammation and diseases associated with improper gut microbiota balance, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
Research has demonstrated that glucose (sucrose, or table sugar, is made up of glucose and fructose) impairs skin repair. Diets high in sugar are also linked with a higher perceived age among diabetic and non-diabetic subjects. By reducing glycation load (a damaging covalent attachment of a sugar to a protein or lipid) it’s possible to effectively lower premature cellular senescence in skin fibroblasts and increase collagen repair while also lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, two age-related diseases linked with excess sugar consumption.
While aluminum has long been considered an innocuous metal and therefore safe to include in cookware and food preparation processes, researchers have now discovered that prolonged exposure to aluminum may increase and hasten the risk of neurodegeneration and brain-aging disorders, including diseases like Alzheimer’s.
4. Trans-Fatty Acids
There is some research to suggest that a diet low in trans-fatty acids may reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Avoiding these types of synthetic fats may also lower the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, which are also risk factors for age-related dementia. Although more research is needed, diets low in these fats (such as the Mediterranean diet) seem to lower dementia risk.
5. Tobacco and Alcohol
The use of tobacco products and alcohol have both been linked to premature skin aging. Other dangerous effects of tobacco use include increased oxidative damage and decreased absorption of antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin C, increasing the risk of age-related diseases. Similarly, long-term use of alcohol disrupts cellular aging and damages telomere length. Telomeres are often compared to the bindings at the end of shoelaces. They effectively keep DNA from unravelling. Some researchers believe that even moderate consumption of alcohol may severely affect biological health as these shortened telomeres are a predictor of increased mortality. Additionally, the effects of alcohol seem to worsen with age, since liver enzymes are less able to effectively metabolize alcohol over time. Finally, heavy alcohol consumption is linked with changes in brain plasticity and cognitive decline, although further research is needed to assess these correlations.