As we head into the winter holidays, we want to reflect a healthy glow from within, and in the long run, support healthy aging. But excess sugar and alcohol, along with poor diet and sleep, often keep us from looking and feeling our best. Over time, they take their toll, so let’s focus on ways to reduce inflammation to ensure that we are aging gracefully tomorrow.
If you could take just one step to create a healthier future full of vitality, it would be to fight inflamm-aging by reducing inflammation. While the term is used in the beauty industry because of the clear-cut connection between inflammation and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, inflamm-aging is more than skin deep.
In fact, inflamm-aging is a significant driver of the chronic disease epidemic. That’s because heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cognitive decline, and bone loss all rise from the embers of chronic inflammation smoldering over time.
So how do we turn back the clock – to promote healthy aging (aging gracefully) and actively grow our health?
EAT A MEDITERRANEAN-STYLE DIET
Replace soda, candy, simple carbs, and chips with a Mediterranean-style diet of berries, olives, salmon, nuts, and spices. It’s easy and delicious. Plus, it feels so good to get that toxic food out of your system!
In fact, a study from Columbia University linked an inflammatory diet pattern to brain aging. They found that a Mediterranean-style diet rich in greens and omega-3 fatty acids from fish and nuts is associated with a lower risk for Alzheimer’s and better brain function as we age. A sure sign of aging gracefully is a sharp mind and an open heart!
TASTE THE RAINBOW OF FRUITS & VEGGIES
Enjoy Nature’s Sweet Treats: Trade out candy and sweets for berries, cherries, and citrus, which are rich in antioxidants, colorful phytonutrients, and Vitamin C. Strive to eat each of the colors every day, as the pigments in berries, citrus, greens, tomatoes, and spices contain phytonutrients that activate the genes that fight inflammation and promote healthy aging. Plus, they taste great and help fight the oxidative damage that contributes to aging skin and many other health problems.
Yams, yellow potatoes, butternut squash, lentils, gluten-free grains, and other fiber-rich complex carbs help balance blood sugar by keeping you fuller longer. Plus, their carotenoids act as antioxidants to fight fine lines and wrinkles that occur over time. For a taste treat, check out this recipe for Butternut Squash with Thyme, Shallots, Cranberries, and Pecans.
BALANCE HORMONES & DETOXIFY
Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, romanesco, and kale: These “cruciferous” veggies contain sulforaphane, promoting detoxification of estrogen and estrogen-mimicking chemicals to help maintain a healthy hormonal balance for aging gracefully. Roast these veggies to a golden brown with extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, and sea salt so you’ll gobble them up!
Leafy Greens, like spinach, chard, kale, and arugula are loaded with chlorophyll, the green pigment that packs a punch of antioxidant activity. Plus, they’re rich in fiber, stress-fighting B vitamins, and magnesium to promote good elimination and detoxification. Pull together a colorful salad for lunch each day that is also packed with protein.
PROTEIN & COLLAGEN: A WINNING PAIR
Salmon and cold-water fish are rich in clean protein and essential omega-3 oils to fight inflammation, build better cognitive function, and reduce muscle and bone loss. Tip: trade out canned tuna for canned salmon and make this creamy salmon salad to top your veggie bowl.
Bone broth is loaded with collagen, a particular type of fibrous protein that acts as the glue to hold our connective tissue together. This fibrous protein preserves the elasticity of the skin and keeps our bones strong. We need strong bones and muscles to help us do all we want in our senior years, so get started now. Use bone broth as the base for chicken vegetable soup, beef stew, or minestrone, or sip a mug when you need an extra shot of protein. Get Dr. Cates’ recipe here.
GIVE YOURSELF AN OIL CHANGE
EVOO – Extra-virgin olive oil is arguably the healthiest fat on earth. Because it contains large amounts of monounsaturated oils and antioxidants. The green color and slightly peppery taste let you know what Italian women have known for generations. That olive oil has healing properties. Extensive research has linked daily olive oil intake with reduced incidence of heart disease and stroke, diabetes, dementia, and breast cancer. Adding olive oil to dishes also improves the absorption of many fat-soluble vitamins, so enjoy this oil without guilt!
Avocado – Not just for guacamole, avocados have made their way into egg salad, hummus, smoothies, and soups. And for a good reason: they’re packed with skin and heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat (like olive oil). Avocados also contain the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E and are suitable for the skin, heart, and digestion. Make sure to add ¼ to ½ an avocado daily to that veggie bowl.
Nuts and Seeds – Nuts are little gifts from the plant kingdom are packed with protein, fiber, and healthy oils. This combination makes them a perfect snack, but don’t go wild! Measure out just ¼ cup for your daily serving since they are high in calories. And rotate the type of nuts you eat, so you get the range of minerals and fats they contain. For example, 3 Brazil nuts have a daily dose of selenium, while cashews are rich in magnesium, and walnuts have the most omega-3 oils. Toast them lightly and add to salads, grain bowls
ADD FLAVOR BOMBS
“Variety is the Spice of Life” – so bring your food to life with an explosion of flavor from herbs and spices. Each herb and spice gets its unique flavor from its own set of phytochemicals, imbuing it with delicious, super-healing properties. Spices and herbs have been shown to lower inflammation, helping to quell redness, pain, and swelling.
Plant an indoor herb garden this winter. Or buy dried spices in small quantities until you know which ones you love. And make a pot of Masala Chai Tea instead of coffee or a cocktail on those cold winter nights. You’ll love not waking up with a hangover, and as a bonus, you’ll have less pain and inflammation.
Growing old gracefully helps make the most of your lifestyle today. It’s way more fun to cultivate some excellent cooking skills to feed yourself, friends, and family well. Instead of settling for the MAD diet (Modern American Diet) and the set of chronic diseases it breeds. A healthy glow and vitality are possible. Claim the future for yourself by taking charge of your health now so you can optimize aging gracefully!
Links to recipes from Dr. Sally’s Kitchen:
- Sockeye Salmon Salad on a Bed of Greens
- My (Masala) Chai Tea
- Roasted Butternut Squash w/Shallots, Thyme, Cranberries & Hazelnuts
I hope you enjoyed learning more about what foods you can eat to aging gracefully. Feel free to share this article with your friends, and spread the word to promote natural health.
Have any natural health tips of your own? We love hearing from you – Please share them in the comments below!