We’re living longer, but what’s the secret to looking and feeling more youthful?
If you’re fed up of looking in the mirror and spotting a new line, or yet another wrinkle, fear not. You may be able to turn back the clock!
In their book, Eat Better Live Longer, dietitian Juliette Kellow and Dr Sarah Brewer explain that the secret to ageing well isn’t hidden in an expensive lotion or potion, it is found in your own kitchen.
They say that while conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis become more likely as we age, unhealthy eating can accelerate the process.
But healthy habits can help ward them off.
The first step is to understand what your body needs to stay healthy.
Both fruit and veg are crammed full of antioxidants, which slow down the ageing process. Antioxidants help repair cells and, as a consequence, stop them deteriorating over time.
The first signs of ageing are often most noticeable on our skin.
Collagen makes it supple and strong, but from the age of 20 onwards, we start to lose one per cent of collagen each year.
Added to this, our elastin fibres decrease too, making our skin less stretchy and more prone to wrinkles and lines.
Hydration is the starting point for healthy, youthful skin. The NHS recommends we drink six to eight glasses of water a day, or around 1.2 litres.
But alongside plenty of water, what should we be eating to help our skin look younger?
The NHS recommends we eat at least five — and preferably up to 10 — portions of fruit and vegetables a day.
But don’t just fill your diet with broccoli and berries. Future-proof your body with power foods such as almonds, tuna, garlic, wholegrains and even tea, which all contain anti-ageing nutrients.
And here’s what else we should be eating…
These are full of healthy fats and Vitamin E. Monounsaturated fats protect skin from the sun. Eating half an avocado, three or four times a week, will benefit your skin.
Brightly-coloured vegetables have high levels of beta-carotene, which the body uses to make vitamin A. This helps the repair and growth of skin tissue and heals wounds. It also boosts the immune system.
Higher levels of vitamin A may reduce the risk of some cancers. Brewer and Kellow recommend eating the grain freekeh, with roasted root veg and greens as a way of increasing levels of beta-carotene in your system.
As well as having high levels of beta-carotene, tomatoes are full of lycopene. This can protect your body from chemicals, slow the growth of cancers, and may also protect vulnerable skin from sunburn.
Eating roasted tomatoes with poached eggs and wholegrain bread is a perfect breakfast.
Oily fish and shellfish
Omega-3 fats and vitamin D in oily fish reduce inflammation in the body. As we age, our bodies make less of this vital fat.
Having sufficient omega-3 and vitamin D makes our skin and bones healthier. Brewer and Kellow suggest eating wholewheat pasta salad with sardines.
Acidic citrus fruits are full of vitamin C. This produces collagen, the protein which gives skin its structure. This ensures skin stays plump and smooth as we grow older.
Vitamin C also protects the skin’s epidermis — its outer layer — against the sun’s UV rays.
One daily portion of citrus fruit will increase your vitamin C level.
And here’s what to avoid…
Sugar molecules attach themselves to collagen. This process is called glycation and makes the collagen stiffen, leading to wrinkles.
Drinking lots of alcohol is linked to a higher risk of melanoma.
Edited by Alexandra Grainger
Eat Better, Live Longer: Understand What Your Body Needs To Stay Healthy, by Dr Sarah Brewer and Juliette Kellow, is published by DK. It’s available from Amazon, priced £16.99.