I am starting this piece with the reminder you are a miracle, and the wonders that happen every moment in every one of your cells support that. I get a giddy feeling of joy every time I think about how amazing our bodies are and when I think about all the mini miracles happening every moment we go about our day. Do you ever stop to reflect on how incredible your body is? While I will always want to improve some part of my body (the jowls appearing … what are they … and I don't believe I ordered them 😂), I am always in awe of how my body continues to serve me day in and day out. And taking the time to care for it in ways I didn't when I was younger has become more of a priority. I am grateful to be ageing, and I don't wish to turn back the clock … oh … maybe sometimes, but not because I don't like where I am, but because I often have to work a little harder for results than before!
Let's turn our attention back to healthy ageing. I believe it comes down to a combination of genetics, lifestyle choices, your community, mindset and how you nourish yourself. While it isn't our fault if we get sick or are diagnosed with a disease, we can take responsibility for how we respond. And ageing is the same. We can contribute to how we experience the effects of ageing through some of our choices. In this case, we will focus on eating whole real foods.
The processes contributing to ageing are oxidation, inflammation and glycation.
Oxidation is a process where oxygen reacts with other molecules, leading to the formation of free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive and can cause damage to our cells. While we do need some free radicals, for example, to assist in immune function (white blood cells, reducing infection), when there is an imbalance between the production of free radicals and the body's ability to counteract their effects with antioxidants, we experience oxidative stress. This stress significantly impacts your inner health and outer appearance. We can contribute to increased production of free radicals through high-intensity exercise, exposure to cigarette smoke, pesticides, and car exhausts, also by eating fried food and drinking alcohol. An excess of free radicals may show itself through our skin becoming dry and shrivelled, causing excess wrinkles. They may present through your arteries, where lesions and cholesterol plaque contribute to a heart attack or stroke. The best way to reduce oxidative stress is through eating mostly coloured plant foods. Eating the rainbow, beautifully coloured fruits and vegetables daily will offer you an abundance of antioxidants. Eating whole real foods is the only way you will get them! You can supplement; however, there is little research that supports the reduction of free radicals as eating an abundance of fresh produce does. The antioxidants work by donating an oxygen molecule to the free radical; this makes the free radical happy and stops it from creating havoc in your cells. The 'free radical theory of ageing' (along with others) suggests the accumulation of oxidation and damaged cells contribute to age-related disease. I encourage you to eat the vegetables!
Inflammation is a natural immune response to injury or infection. Inflammation is essential to keeping us alive. However, the more pollutants we are exposed to, the more chronic our inflammation will be, and this creates 'inflammageing'. Chronic inflammation speeds up aging by increasing oxidative stress, accelerating telomere shortening, causing mitochondrial dysfunction (where our cellular energy is created), accumulating senescent cells (cells that stop multiplying but don't die) and reducing immune function. Chronic inflammation is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer's, dementia and cancer. Eating whole real foods – more vegetables again – and reducing (or eliminating) highly processed foods, artificial substances, alcohol, and refined sugars will reduce your body's inflammatory response. You can learn more about inflammation here.
Glycation is when sugar molecules bind to some proteins, lipids, and DNA, not allowing them to do what they need in our bodies. They form advanced glycation products (AGE's) linked to inflammation and oxidative stress. While they accumulate naturally as we age, eating highly processed foods and a high-sugar diet exasperates the accumulation, increasing the ageing process. AGE's can cause cell dysfunction, cross-linking of collagen, reducing skin elasticity, renal failure, and diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer's. Eating whole real foods instead of highly processed and sugary (fake) foods, supplementing with herbs, and moderate regular exercise will potentially slow down the impact of glycation.
You get the theme … Eat whole real foods to support healthy ageing and slow the aging process. The problem lies in the fact this just isn't happening. Too many people are eating what I call ‘fake foods’ every day. Our bodies aren't made for that. Not enough of us are eating the recommended daily intake of vegetables and fruits. You can read about that here. In Australia, older adults are not getting the recommended servings of any food groups, let alone enough vegetables and very few are meeting their calcium requirements. If you want to support cardiovascular health, brain health, and bone health and do your best to prevent diseases such as type 2 diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer's, you will need to create habits that support the slowing down of the ageing process. Despite what we are told, these modern-day diseases are not inevitable, and our lifestyle choices matter. You can significantly impact your health and limit the amount of oxidation and inflammation in your body by eating plenty of colourful vegetables and spices, reducing the intake of highly processed foods, managing stress, resting and creating a daily exercise habit.
No matter your age, start your healthy ageing habits now! It is what you do every day that impacts your health, and my wish for you is to live a long, joyful life, experiencing adventures with those you love unencumbered with morbidities as you age.
As always, remember you are a unique miracle. You deserve to be your best self for you and those you love.
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Blog posts are not intended to provide medical advice or take the place of medical advice and treatment from your doctor. Readers are advised to consult their qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Ocea Marie does not take any responsibility for possible health consequences for anyone reading or following the information available on the blog. All readers, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their doctor before beginning any nutrition or supplement program.
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