We all want to look and feel great for as long as possible. But if you have ever been to a school reunion, you might have noticed something interesting: Some of your classmates look older than others. Why is there such a difference in the rate at which people age? Scientists have discovered that it all starts inside our cells.
For most of us, aging means loss of muscle strength, bone density, lung capacity, and memory, and our risk for conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and cancer all increase. When you graph the incidence of disease versus age, you notice something rather striking: Many chronic disease conditions are rare when we are young, but their incidence begins to increase around age 50. To scientists who study aging, this upsurge around age 50 suggests that there might be a common reason underlying the onset of some of the age-related diseases, and that may be cellular aging.
When we are born, we start out with a large population of healthy cells; then, ultraviolet radiation, environmental toxins, stress, and poor diet do damage to our cells. The more our cells are exposed, the more damage accumulates. It is this accumulated damage that eventually crosses a threshold that may lead to recognizable disease.1
Nutrition for your cells
What you really want to do is help your cells protect and repair themselves throughout life to help delay the onset of disease and better control the risks. One key to understanding cellular defense is knowing that cells require certain nutrients in the right amounts to be able to function normally to protect and repair themselves.2
1. EAT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES: Since only nine percent of Americans eat the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, the opportunity for improving health (and longevity) by improving diet is great.3
2. TAKE A MULTIVITAMIN: Deficiency of the vitamins B12, B6, C, E, niacin, and folic acid as well as iron and zinc all seem to mimic damage to DNA from radiation.4 Everyone should consider a good multivitamin to cover their basic nutritional needs.
3. LOAD UP ON POLYPHENOLS: Polyphenols are found in many fruits and vegetables, green tea, black tea, red wine, coffee, chocolate, olives, and extra virgin olive oil. They are plant-based nutrients that have antioxidant benefits and help protect against cellular aging.5
4. EAT MUSCADINE GRAPES: These grapes, native to the United States, possess one of the highest antioxidant levels among fruits.6 They contain a high concentration of polyphenols, along with a high amount of ellagitannins and ellagic acid.7 Extracts of muscadine grape have been studied for their ability to help protect against inflammation and act as antioxidants.8,9
5. SUPPLEMENT WITH RESVERATROL: Studies suggest that resveratrol (a type of polyphenol) may slow cellular aging and have antiplatelet, anti-inflammatory, and cardioprotective properties.10,11
6. SUPPLEMENT WITH ANTHOCYANINS: This class of polyphenols, responsible for the deep red and blue coloring in fruits such as berries and grapes, possesses antioxidant, cardioprotective, and neuroprotective effects.12
While there is no way to stop the effects of aging completely, how fast you age may truly be in your control. There is a lot you can do to help slow cellular aging, and it starts with the nutrients you put in your body.
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