Nutrition and Aging

The moment we are born, we start to age. Many have searched for and tried to create products that can turn back the hands of time, but to no avail. The best we can do is care for our bodies to slow the process. Is there a secret recipe?

I like straight-forward advice and keeping things simple. Antioxidants, specifically vitamins A, C and E, are important for our body because they support the repair process. Your vitamin A comes from green, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C is also in those foods, as well as red fruits and vegetables. For vitamin E, look to dark-green vegetables as well as grains, nuts and seeds.

TIP: Oils should be used at medium to low cooking temperatures, and never cook with flax or hemp oil.

Since variety is the spice of life – especially when it comes to our food – enjoy a range of colours when selecting vegetables and fruit. I recommend varying protein choices as well; if you’re a meat eater, switch it up a few days a week with a plant-based protein like beans or lentils. Healthy fat is also important in our diet; include olive oil, macadamia nut oil and avocado. 

What goes into our bodies is one of the key factors to what we see on the outside. When preparing dinner, it’s easy to make extra and have leftovers for lunch the next day. Your body will thank you for choosing homemade food over processed or fast food.

Limiting the amount of sugar we consume is important as well. Sorry to be Debbie Downer but you knew I was going to say it. Absolutely everything we eat causes our bodies to release insulin. Refined sugar, honey, maple syrup or coconut sugar makes the body work harder to maintain an optimum blood sugar level. If you consume sugar every day, after a while your body will ignore its own signals to level things out, causing it to release more insulin and adding stress as it tries to regulate it. One last caution on sugar – if it’s not used for energy, it’s stored as fat and when we’re inactive, the fat starts to accumulate.

Now let’s talk about hydration. Water helps the natural detox process our bodies go through 24 hours a day, and it keeps our skin looking great! At a minimum, we should drink 1.5 to 2 litres a day (the amount differs based on weight and activity level). I hear a lot of people complain about frequent bathroom breaks but that’s only true in the beginning. Your body will soon adjust to your new hydration regimen. 

What goes into our bodies is so important but, as a holistic nutritionist, I look at more than just food. Quality and length of sleep is also very important (there’s a reason it is called beauty sleep). We must also consider activity levels and the environments where we live and work – these can have a significant impact. And finally, our attitudes about life and relationships with everyone from co-workers to friends and family affect our aging process. Life happens to all of us, how we react to it or work through the tough times has an impact.

So now you have the not-so-secret recipe for a youthful life – eat a wide variety of antioxidant-rich foods, reduce (or ideally eliminate) processed and fried foods, limit your sugar intake, stay hydrated, get enough sleep and enjoy life – easy right? Well, it doesn’t have to happen overnight. Every step you take is a step in the right direction. If you need help putting the steps in motion, contact a holistic nutritionist to create a personalized plan.

Article written for Fresh Vancouver Magazine Issue 29 Mar/Apr 2015