Although there's no fountain of youth in real life, eating the right foods can do just as good of a job at keeping you young and healthy. The phrase “you are what you eat” has withstood time for a reason, so it's important to control what and how much goes into your daily diet. If you eat well, you will live well. Here are ten essential nutrients to arm yourself with against old age.
As one gets older, they tend to experience a natural decline in their stamina. Although this decrease in energy may seem normal, fatigue may also signal a vitamin B12 deficiency. Vitamin B12 helps out various other systems in the body and allows them to work more effectively. Unfortunately, the body's ability to absorb vitamin B12 declines after 50. To compensate for this deficiency, you should increase your consumption of foods rich in B12. These include seafood, salmon in particular, and lean meats. Vegetarians can opt for cereals fortified with this vitamin or a wholesome supplement.
The efficiency of the gastrointestinal tract slows down with age, and you may already be noticing this effect in the bathroom. However, fiber naturally promotes digestion by sweeping the intestines, almost as if cleaning them out. As a result, fiber keeps things moving through your system and supports a healthy colon. On top of all that, fiber also keeps your blood sugar under control. Fiber can easily be found in fruits and vegetables.
Potassium helps to balance sodium in the body, which has poor results when not consumed in moderation. Increased levels of sodium are especially harmful to heart health. If you do notice that your salt intake is on the higher side, you can protect yourself with potassium that's conveniently found in bananas, leafy greens, dates, tomatoes, beans, and many other foods. In addition, potassium can help lower blood pressure by helping the blood vessel walls to relax.
People become more forgetful as they age, but a diet high in omega-3s can protect your brain from cognitive decline. These fatty acids neutralize damaging free radicals in the body and provide your system with the protein that it needs to function. High levels of omega-3s are concentrated in olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, almonds, and spinach.
Although vitamin A is emphasized for maintaining good eye health, the human body needs zinc to convert vitamin A into a functional form. A diet adequate in zinc can also slow the progression of macular degeneration, protecting good vision well into old age. A good source of zinc comes from oysters and other forms of shellfish.
A major sign of aging that people go to great efforts to hide is grey hair. This is because, copper peptides are known to increase the size of the hair follicles and subsequently stop hair thinning. And since copper helps in the production of melanin, it can even prevent premature graying of hair. Save yourself from the trouble by delaying this pigment deficiency with an adequate intake of copper. Copper is an essential nutrient your body needs to continue producing melanin. Since copper is considered a micromineral, trace amounts of consumption are enough to satisfy the daily requirement. A popular source of this mineral lies in shiitake mushrooms.
Osteoporosis, which is decreased bone density, plagues the elderly who had a diet poor in calcium when they were younger. These porous bones are more prone to breakage and less likely to fully heal. Dairy products, including milk and yogurt, are the best sources of calcium. If you prefer non-dairy sources of this nutrient, try sardines!
Cells undergo damage from a build-up of waste that only antioxidants can clear up. Antioxidants benefit the body by neutralizing and removing the free radicals from the bloodstream. To prevent this build-up and protect the integrity of your body systems, increase your intake of antioxidants from blueberries, cherries, and other deeply pigmented fruits and vegetables.
Cortisol, a hormone released during stress, is arguably one of the most aging secretions produced by the body. Whether it's illness, grey hairs or wrinkles, stress can be the cause of them all. Flavonoids neutralize this damage. Counteract this cortisol production with the intake of flavonoids through various teas.
K for kale is an easy way to remember how to consume this essential vitamin that's highly concentrated in the human brain. This vitamin also plays an important role in activating proteins within the body. Found in all green, leafy vegetables, vitamin K not only helps you look young but also keeps your mind sharp as a tack.
Now that you have a good idea of what you need to eat in order to stay young, implement these foods into your daily life! Prevention is the key to good health. For the efforts that you put in today, your body will thank you years from now.
Eileen O'Shanassy is a freelance writer and blogger based out of Flagstaff, AZ. She writes on a variety of topics and loves to research and write. She enjoys baking, biking, and kayaking. Check out her Twitter @eileenoshanassy.