How do I look? A question all of us have spent our lives asking others. In today’s culture we are obsessed with retaining our youth. With endless varieties of hair dyes, wrinkle creams, and surgical procedures now available to help delay the aging process, it’s hard to believe that once our founding fathers powdered their wigs gray to appear older and wiser. Then, being old was in style, but no more! The battle is on to remain forever young.
Before investing in another beauty treatment or contemplating surgery, try getting back to the basics of healthy eating and physical activity. Beauty begins in your grocery basket. A well-balanced diet not only can help you lose weight, live longer and feel fitter, it can also help you look younger. Forget the elusive fountain of youth. It’s just a fairytale. Instead commit to adding some easy to find foods to your diet and naturally reverse the hands of time.
Fruits & Veggies
Without a doubt, eating a plethora of fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants will help you look and feel better than ever before. Antioxidants like flavonoids and carotenoids found in plants help remove free radicals from your skin and body that cause premature aging. At a minimum, eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Try incorporating some age defying produce into your daily meals.
• Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fats and contain biotin for healthy skin. Slice on sandwiches, make into guacamole, or add fresh cubes to salads and wraps.
• Blueberries are a super food busting with super antioxidant activity that fights free radicals that cause wrinkles. Eat fresh or frozen in oatmeal, yogurts, or smoothies.
• Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, the nutrient essential for a healthy scalp and shiny hair. Roast, bake, steam, or enjoy carrots raw.
• Cucumbers, specifically the peel, contain silica which helps reduce wrinkles and boost collagen in the skin. While placing sliced cucumbers over the eyes is soothing, it’s best to eat them so they can work from the inside out.
• Tomatoes should be a staple in the kitchen since they are loaded with lycopene, which helps prevent heart disease, elevated cholesterol and cancer. Lycopene acts as a natural sunblock, preventing UV damage from the sun. Cooked tomatoes offer the maximum anti-aging effect.
Staying strong and maintaining muscle mass is a beauty essential. Lean muscle keeps us toned and is the furnace in which calories are burned. Studies show that we lose ½ to 1 percent of muscle mass each year, starting in our thirties! Muscle strength declines by 12 to 15 percent per decade. Eating a variety of protein rich foods, along with regular resistance training will help defy age-related muscle loss.
Cod is a unique fish in that it contains selenium, which safeguards the skin from sun damage and cancer. Replace red meat with grilled, baked, or steamed fish, such as cod, twice a week.
Lean Beef is full of muscle building protein and iron. An iron deficiency can cause nail beds to be thin and concave. Choose lean or extra lean cuts for better heart health and anti-aging results.
Beans of all kinds are high in protein and fiber, which help promote stronger and longer hair growth. Add beans to salads, casseroles, soups, stews, or eat as a side dish.
Eggs not only pack a protein punch, but also are rich in iron and biotin, both of which help keep your skin, hair, and muscles healthy and strong. Enjoy your eggs boiled, scrambled, poached, over easy or lightly pan-fried.
Low-Fat Dairy foods including milk, yogurt, and cheese offer protein plus eight other essential vitamins and minerals. Strong bones and teeth start with calcium and vitamin D found in every dairy food.
Brazil Nuts The award for the most anti-aging food goes to Brazil nuts. Brimming with selenium, a powerful mineral that aids in the production of antioxidants, they help repair cell damage and slow down the skin’s aging process. Just two nuts a day will help stop aging in its tracks.
Regardless if you choose to cut, wax, color, clip, pluck, straighten, shave, and curl, or, lift, run, squat and sweat for a more youthful outward appearance, don’t waste time staring in the mirror, scrutinizing, worrying, and wishing. Wishing you could look like the unrealistic images in magazines or reclaim the youthful essence of your twenties can distort your perception of the natural beauty staring back at you.
When you gaze into the mirror ask, “How do I feel?” The way you feel about yourself on any particular day will influence how you look more than the most expensive beauty cream or latest procedure. After decades of concentrating on the outside glitz, I believe our culture should change its approach to beauty completely. Healthy at any age is beautiful. Choose a healthy habit today and make it part of your daily beauty ritual.
Rebecca Turner, MS, RD, CSSD, is a local nutrition expert and runner. Helping you FUEL your faith, family and fitness. Find her on Facebook.com/RebeccaTurnerNutrition or tweet her @RebeccaTurnerRD