12 foods that slow the signs of aging

The key to eating a diet that will slow down the signs of aging is to eat one that is rich in anti-oxidants.

Anti-oxidants as the word itself explains are anti (against) oxidants; they prevent cell damage caused by oxidants.

Oxidants are free radicals that you find both in the environment (e.g. via pollution, smoke, alcohol) and, naturally, within your body.

Our bodies create oxidants to fight off viruses and microbes. The problem arises when too many oxidants are present. Not only can this lead to disease but it also contributes to the aging process.

According to the Free Radical Theory of Aging, organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage (i.e. oxidate) over time. To reduce this damage we need to introduce the opposite of oxidants, namely anti-oxidants.

However it’s not a case of bulking up on anti-oxidants to keep the oxidants in check. We need to ensure we keep a balance of oxidants and anti-oxidants as a level of oxidants in our bodies are important for our welfare. Luckily it’s difficult to overdose on anti-oxidants but, still, bare in mind that too much of a good thing isn’t always good. So eat and enjoy the foods I have listed below as part of your daily diet. There’s no need to binge-eat.

As usual, the trick is to eat a rainbow of food each day and, when it comes to fruit and veg, eat at least 10 portions daily.

You’ll notice in the list of foods below that they do not only reduce the visual signs of aging, such as wrinkles, but other signs of wear and tear, apparent in aging bodies.

#1: Tomatoes, Pink & Red Grapefruit, and Watermelon

These foods contain a carotenoid called lycopene.

Carotenoids are what give food its bright colour. And lycopene is considered to be one of the most powerful anti-oxidants in the world.

But this is not the only health benefit lycopene brings to the table. It is also considered to be a cancer-fighting food (research has proved its ability to fight breast and prostate cancers), it is said to keep your eyes healthy for longer (it may be able to prevent/delay cataracts and reduce macular degeneration), improves the health of your heart (helps lower blood pressure and can help treat heart disease)… to name but a few benefits.

#2: Salmon

Salmon appears on my list due to its unusually high level of Omega-3 fatty acids. Not only do these healthy fats reduce fine lines and wrinkles, but they also reduce clogged pores and the production of inflammation.

But that’s not all. Food high in Omega-3 fatty acids may decrease the risk of many cardiovascular problems, have a positive effect on your mood, protect joints by preventing inflammation, decrease the risk of chronic dry eye and macular degeneration in eyes, and is associated with decreasing the risk of several cancers including breast, prostate and colorectal… and more.

It is said that by making salmon part of your regular diet, eating it 3 times each week, you could see more youthful, fuller skin in only 6 weeks. Try it and let me know.

#3: Yellow and Orange Root Vegetables

Yellow- and orange-coloured foods are chock-full of beta-carotene.

Beta-carotene is the pigment found in plants that gives them their yellow and orange colour. Once eaten, it is converted by the body into Vitamin A, a powerful anti-oxidant that encourages skin repair.

Additionally, beta-carotene can help protect the skin against sunburn, although this doesn’t mean you should stop using a sunscreen. And research has shown that it helps prevent the formation of UV-induced erythema i.e. skin irritation and redness.

Other health benefits associated with beta-carotene include the healthy development of a foetus during pregnancy, the potential to treat oral leukoplakia (the thick white patches that can form inside your mouth), and help reduce respiratory problems such as phlegm production and shortness of breath.

You’ll find beta-carotene in carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, and pumpkins.

#4: Spinach, Kale, Yellow Carrots, Corn and Egg Yolk

These foods contain Lutein, a yellow pigment which occurs widely in yellow-coloured foods and leafy vegetables.

Lutein helps filter the high-energy wavelengths of visible light and, thus, slows down the rate of oxidative stress and skin aging. Research also suggests that it may be able to protect the skin against sun damage such as wrinkles.

Besides protecting and skin, Lutein is best associated with eye health and is considered a natural treatment for macular degeneration. It protects the eyes by filtering out a element of damaging UV light that can negatively impact delicate parts of the eye such as the macula (the retina).

Additionally, Lutein is believed to help lower the risk of diabetes and cancer (breast, lung, cervical and colon), and can help maintain a healthy heart.

Of all the foods mentioned above, egg yolks contain the highest levels of Lutein.

#5: Broccoli, Apples, Onions, and Cranberries

These foods contain the powerful anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory, Quercetin, a member of the flavonoid family which is a group of anti-oxidants with soothing properties.

As it is an anti-inflammatory (as well as an anti-oxidant) it can help prevent wrinkles, thus slowing the signs of aging.

Not only are the anti-inflammatory properties of Quercetin beneficial for our skin, but they are beneficial in fighting a whole host of diseases because research now shows that inflammation is the root of most diseases including autoimmune illnesses, cancer, and heart diseases.

Additionally, Quercetin is associated as beneficial in fighting allergies because it is an anti-inflammatory and natural anti-histamine, supports heart health as it reduces inflammation, helps fight pain associated with autoimmune disorders and arthritis etc due to its anti-inflammatory properties, and may help fight cancer due to its unique anti-proliferative (preventative spread of cells) effect on cancer cells.

#6: Blueberries, Raspberries, Cranberries, Blackberries, Bilberries, and Black/Red Grapes

The anti-oxidant Anthocyanin is what gives these fruits their bright red, blue and purple colours. They can help repair damaged cells, promote the growth of new ad healthy cells, and protect against free radicals. However Anthocyanins are most revered for their ability to reduce inflammation and stabilise collagen by preventing free radical damage which prevents enzymes from attaching to collagen.

Whilst most fruits contain at least some Anthocyanin, the ones mentioned above are those considered to be most rich in this anti-oxidant.

A study performed by the Department of Food & Nutrition and Korean Institute of Nutrition on Bog Blueberries concluded that the high content of Anthocyanin in these berries alleviated premature aging of the skin caused by repeated exposure to UV radiation primarily from the sun (i.e. photo-aging) and the toxic effects of UV light on the skin, as well as reduced the degradation of collagen in human skin that had been subjected to UVB radiation.

In addition to the above, Anthocyanins have been scientifically proven to improve heart health and reduce cholesterol, may fight obesity, are a great way to slow age-related degeneration of the brain function and memory, and preliminary research shows promising results that they may be an effective way to prevent the development of several forms of cancer such as breast, prostate, oral and colon.

#7: Garlic, Onions, Shallots, Leeks, and Spring Onions (aka Scallions)

Members of the onion family (or Allium Vegetables) are high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which we now know are important in reducing and slowing the visible signs of aging on our skin.

But these humble vegetables pack even more punch. For example, research has linked onions to the prevention of cancer and heart disease as well as reducing the risks of developing arthritis, asthma, and diabetes. And knowledge of garlic’s anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties go back centuries to folklore is attributed to protection against vampires and werewolves.

As with all other foods on this list, allium vegetables have many more health benefits beyond that of our skin including cardiovascular protection, lowering of blood pressure and cholesterol levels, can fight some cancers, and provide anti-clotting benefits.

#8: Black Beans, Black Soybeans and Chickpeas

Similar to berries, these beans are high in the anti-oxidant Anthocyanin so they attract the same anti-aging benefits.

In addition, black soybeans and chickpeas are high in Isoflavones, a plant-based oestrogen that is reported to reduce wrinkles, reverse sun damage, and tighten sagging skin.

When it comes to plant-based oestrogens (or phytoestrogens) in the diet, science is split and can even seem to contradictory. Sometimes they’re good for you, sometimes not. So before adjusting the amount of foods you eat which are phytoestrogens, please first consult your doctor.

However phytoestrogens do have their benefits which include the reduction and even prevention of cancers such as breast and ovarian, improvement in heart health especially in post-menopausal women, improve health during menopause, may help with weight loss, and may increase libido.

#9: Nuts

Nuts are full of vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, and E and copper and zinc which promote healthy collagen production and help provide a glowing, smoother-looking complexion. Not only that but a study performed by Harvard University showed that a handful of nuts every day is a key to living longer.

The best nuts you can eat include:

Almonds – a brilliant anti-inflammatory which helps reduce wrinkles, these nuts are also high in Vitamin E ensuring that your skin stays hydrated for longer because they encourage the blood vessels to stay dilated. They also fight against skin diseases such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

Brazil Nuts – these nuts are not only high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation, but also selenium, which improves the skin’s elasticity and fights inflammation that causes pimples. Additional Brazil Nuts are said to help weight loss.

Cashew Nuts – these nuts are also high in the mineral, selenium, which protects cells from damage and reduces wrinkles, fights skin infections, reduces inflammation. They also contain zinc which promotes healing, and cell growth and renewal which is especially beneficial for infected or damaged acne areas.

Chestnuts – these are the only nuts that are packed full of Vitamin C with a quarter cup of them providing 30% of your recommended daily allowance of this vitamin, according to The National Institute of Health. Vitamin C is essential for the body to produce collagen and elastin. Eating a handful of chestnuts each day will help prevent collagen breakdown and heal broken capillaries which will lead to clearer healthier-looking skin.

Macadamias – these nuts are packed full of Vitamin E (delay premature wrinkles), iron, protein, and Vitamin B2 (maintains healthy collagen levels for radiant, plump skin).

Pistachios – these nuts contain the anti-inflammatory, Resveratrol, which is also found in red wine. It neutralises free radical damage and, as a result, enables the production of collagen which leads to healthy plump skin. They are also said to benefit weight loss and promote healthy cholesterol, They have further been associated with controlling type-2 diabetes; the impact of healthy glucose levels being positively linked to reduced stress levels.

Walnuts – high in Omega-3 fatty acids, these nuts have great anti-inflammatory properties so are excellent for the health and youthful appearance of our skin. They are also said to increase Vitamin B levels which keeps wrinkles and fine lines at bay.

#10: Water

Question: How many times have you heard someone tell you that you need to drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated and looking younger for longer?

Well.... just because you drink plenty of water doesn't mean you won't have dry skin.

According to Dermatologist, Kenneth Bielinski, whilst the skin of someone who is severely dehydrated will benefit from drinking fluids, the average person's skin does not reflect the amount of water they consume.

I recommend drinking plenty of water for your health, not just your skin.

#11: Green & Black Tea, Dark Chocolate, Apricots and Peaches

Green tea and dark chocolate contain Catechins which are polyphenolic and powerful anti-oxidants which detoxify cell-damaging free radicals in the body.

Catechins increase the skin’s self-healing capabilities and increase the skin’s defence. Like all anti-oxidants, Catechins fight free radicals, reduce wrinkles and fine lines, and protect the skin from sun damage.

But Catechins attract other health benefits too, such as reduced chance of heart disease and stroke, a faster recovery from heart attack, and lower cholesterol levels.

Tea’s property to soothe stress also makes it, additionally, a good anti-aging drink as stress can lead to premature signs of aging. And when brewing yourself a cuppa, remember the longer you let the tea leaves steep, the more Catechins it’ll release.

#12 Red Wine

I admit… I saved the best to last.

Like the foods and drinks above, red wine also has Catechins so also attracts the same beneficial properties. But I have listed this drink separately as it also contains Resveratrol, an anti-inflammatory which neutralises free radical damage and, as a result, enables the production of collagen which leads to healthy plump skin. Indeed it is said to be more effective than Vitamins A & C.

Also Resveratrol works along the lines of oestrogen in that it maintains collagen levels and moisture in our skin, leading to firmer, plumper skin. As we grow older, our oestrgen levels drop resulting in fine lines and wrinkles, and thinner, less elastic skin. Whilst Resveratrol cannot reverse the signs of aging nor can it fully replace lost oestrogen levels, it can help slow the signs of aging. I’ll raise a glass (or two) of red wine to that!

Research shows that drinking red wine can help protect your skin from sun damage. It also encourages our body to better maintain healthy cells, expanding their lifespan and keeping our skin looking younger for longer.

Here’s something to try if, that is, you can bare to donate some of your wine for another use. If you slather red wine directly onto your skin, the Resveratrols will act topically to protect your skin and inhibit damage from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.