Feed Yourself Smarter | Does what we eat affect how we age
What if some of those changes to your skin, your cognitive function were actually just signs of wear and tear caused by subtle nutritional deficiencies? Dr Bruce Ames is a world-renowned Biochemist with a long list of awards and one of the most cited scientists in the world. His “triage theory” says that subtle micronutrient deficiencies, lead to the damage seen in age-related chronic disease. As part of my celebrating ageing series in February (my birthday month and I am 50 this year) here are my top 5 foods to think about that help ensure you have luxe levels of everything you need for your cells to fire up beautifully.
Celebrating ageing | Diet affecting how we age | Nutrition tips to help reduce signs of ageing
What if some of those changes to your skin, your cognitive function were actually just signs of wear and tear caused by subtle nutritional deficiencies?
Dr Bruce Ames is a world-renowned Biochemist with a long list of awards and one of the most cited scientists in the world. His “triage theory” says that subtle micronutrient deficiencies lead to the damage seen in age-related chronic disease. As part of my celebrating ageing series in February (my birthday month and I am 50 this year) here are my top 5 foods to think about that help ensure you have luxe levels of everything you need for your cells to fire up beautifully.
1. Oily fish (Specifically the cold water, smaller SMASH fish: Sardine, Mackerel, Anchovies, Salmon and Herring) Why?Because of the essential fats. The very long chain fatty acids are an absolute essential for your brain. Plus these fatty acids are needed to help manage inflammation, there is a term used in functional medicine – “inflammaging” – because whenever we have out-of-control inflammation, we have more ageing of the cells and tissues.
Which fish? Sardine, Mackeral, Anchovies, Salmon and Herring have high levels of the right fatty acids, plus they smaller (versus tuna and swordfish) and less likely to absorb high levels of the toxins that are found in many of our oceans. It is the sad reality unfortunately, but if you eat the smaller fish, they are lower down the food chain and lower in the nasties. Salmon is a little larger and the “cleanest” salmon is Alaskan, but that is harder to find and usually more expensive. I love jars of sardines and anchovies, called boquéron here in Spain.
How much? Aim for 2 portions a week
2. The berries Why? Berry fruits are brilliant because they are slow releasing carbohydrates, lower in sugar than most of the other fruits, fibre packed and contain lots of vital phytonutrients that keep your cells (whether in the skin or brain) well protected from oxidative stress.
Which berries? We all know about blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, all of which are great. But I always encourage diversity as anyone who does my Food for Thought programme will know, so expand your berry horizens to mulberries (these are gorgeous dried and added into trail mix or onto muesli), goji, dark cherries (Montmorency cherries are a natural source of melatonin) and elderberries (which are an extra support for the immune system).
Fresh, frozen or dried? Either. Nutritionally, nothing is lost by freezing. And honestly, if the only fresh options have flown from the southern hemisphere, then pick frozen. Some of the more unusual berries on the list above are only going to be available dried or powdered, that’s fine, you still get all the important nutrients.
3. Leafy green vegetables Of course vegetables were going to feature somewhere! Why?The leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale, Swiss Chard, rocket, bok choy, watercress along with all those micro-greens you can grow on your window shelf or find in the supermarket. These veggies are full of fibre and phytonutrients that help with methylation regulation, which is key to optimal ageing.
How much? It’s as much about variety as quantity, I have 2-3 portions of these per day in my food pyramid which I teach in the Food for Thought programme, and they work alongside the sulphurous and coloured vegetables.
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil Why? This is my go-to oil for cooking with and preparing salad dressings or sauces. There is just a wealth or solid evidence to show how it supports so many body functions. It is by far and away the best researched oil for supporting brain health and cardiovascular health as we age. I recommend it from an evidence point of view and not just because I live in Spain where it is basically part of the culture!
Can I really cook with it? Yes you can. It is stable when heated so there is no need to have concerns about that.
5. Mushrooms and Seaweeds Why? These are such superpowers when it comes to nutrition. While we don’t need very much of either, I do recommend including these in your overall diet for added diversity and because they contain nutrients we don’t find in many other places, such as iodine and selenium in seaweed, both of which are crucial for myelin for the cells of your central nervous system. Mushrooms are a great source of beta glucans and sulphur which helps with detoxification.
How? Dried seaweeds can be added to stocks and smoothies. Mushrooms can be added to stews and roasted vegetable dishes. Mushrooms can be used fresh or dried.
Now you have plenty of food for thought with simple ideas on how you can make small additions to your diet that will help maximise your micronutrients.