Research uncovering the multitude of ways in which phytonutrients (nutrients in plants) talk to our genes is now beginning to explain the many studies that link a Mediterranean style diet to healthy aging, to protection from and/or treatment for all the major age-related chronic diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer.
So that brings us to the question on ‘How to eat for Youthful Aging’? Most of the characteristics that determine health and vitality after mid-life are related to modified genetic factors. In fact, gerontologists now state that 75% of an individual’s health after the age of 40 is dependent upon what the person has done to his or her genes, not the genes themselves notes Dr Bland.
So, which genetic factors does Dr Bland recommend we induce and what foods should we eat to do so? In studies, we find that the rate at which cells age is directly related to how well those cells can protect themselves against free radical damage. The less exposure to free radicals and the more antioxidant protection a cell has, the longer its youthful lifespan.
In addition to familiar antioxidants in foods such as vitamin E, C and beta-carotene, our cells rely on a number of very powerful antioxidant enzymes for protection, all of which are manufactured in our cells, if the right messages are sent to our genes by phytonutrients, especially the flavonoids.
Enjoy lots of flavonoid rich fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. One of the largest groups of phytonutrients, flavonoids (the red, blue and purple pigments in plants) include compounds such as:
• Queratin (Onions, green tea, apples, cranberries, buck wheat and black beans)
• Gingerol (Ginger)
• Kaemferol (Strawberries, cranberries, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and chives)
• Resveratrol (Grape skins and peanuts)
• Rutin (Citrus fruits, oranges, lemons and grapefruit)
• Hesperidin (Citrus fruit)
• Catechins (Green tea, grapes, apples and lentils)
• Antocyanins (Many red, purple or blue fruits and vegetables including blueberries, purple cabbage and eggplant.)
• Isoflavones (Soy, chickpeas, peanuts)
• Caimestans (Soy, peas, Brussel sprouts)
The following trace minerals are also necessary.
• Zinc (Crimini mushrooms, spinach, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds)
• Manganese (Cloves, cinnamon, romaine lettuce, spinach, thyme and turmeric)
• Copper (Crimini mushrooms, blackstrap molasses, swiss chard spinach, collard and mustard greens)
• Selenium (Crimini mushrooms, cod, shrimp, tuna, halibut, salmon, eggs and barley)
These foods should be staples in any anti-aging plan. Next week we’ll look at foods that “Talk to your genes to lower Disease Risk”