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Foods that help slow down the ageing process
Posted 12 October 2018
You can’t stop the clock, but you can make better food choices to help with healthy ageing and disease prevention.
While there isn’t one particular food or diet that can make you younger, nourishing the body with colourful, seasonal and fresh produce has a positive impact on your overall health. Research scientist specialising in nutrition and health at the CSIRO, Dr Natalie Luscombe-Marsh, says ageing is a complex process and there are many factors that contribute to how well we age, like:
- Socio-economic status
- Lifestyle factors like stress, exercise smoking and alcohol consumption
- As well as learned behaviours
“There’s no doubt, poor diet choices can have a negative impact on ageing and contributes to an increase risk of many preventable diseases including heart disease, stroke and diabetes,” she says.
“Limiting the number of discretionary foods known as ‘junk foods’, which are highly processed products that are high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats, is key to longevity and good health.”
“Try eating at least six colourful, natural whole foods daily, to reap the maximum health benefits,” she says. “There really isn’t a ‘Top 10’ list of so-called superfoods that hold the key to youthfulness. “Instead, aim to make your plate colourful and full of fresh, seasonal and tasty foods that are aligned with the recommended Australian Dietary Guidelines.”
The power of colourful foods
Orange / Yellow
- Eye health
The vibrant orange/yellow colour in your favourite veggie or fruit is caused by carotenoids. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid which can be converted into Vitamin A to assist with eye health.
- Heart health
- Reduces risk of cancer
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and natural plant pigment available in red fruits and vegetables, that can assist with heart health and reduce the risk of cancer.
- Reduces risk of cancer
- Helps joint pain
Leafy greens have anti-cancer properties as they contain a range of phytochemicals such as saponins, indoles and carotenoids. Spinach has the added benefits of folate and along with kale can assist with fighting pain and inflammation to help manage joint pain.
Blue / Purple
- Reduces risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease
The plant pigment anthocyanin causes the blue/ purple colour in fruits and vegetables. It’s a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce the risk of cancer, stroke and heart disease as well as protect and heal the body’s cells.
Brown / White
- Nerve and muscle function
- Immune booster
Sources of potassium, an important mineral that may act as an electrolyte, can be found in potatoes and bananas. It can help the body regulate fluid and assists nerves and muscles to function properly including regulating heart rhythm. Garlic contains the health-promoting phytochemical – allicin which may act as an immune booster.
Quick nutritional tips
“Fresh food is the best source of nutrients but frozen and canned foods are also beneficial.”
“Get to know how long the fresh produce has been in your local store, as reducing the time between farm to plate, will give you best nutrient bang for your buck.”
“It’s also important to drink at least two litres of water a day to hydrate your body and skin,” Dr Luscombe-Marsh says.