What we eat, especially in midlife has in a big impact on how quickly we age. Research from UCI shows that in general, the health of 40 and 50 somethings is in a worse state than generations before. Midlifers are becoming more affected by age-related conditions including obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and a vulnerability to the effects of Covid19. So why are midlifers becoming unhealthier? It’s not the number of calories we eat, but certain foods that are accelerating out ageing.
Luckily, some healthy changes can slow down the body clock and science proves that if we change what we eat, we can live a longer and healthier life.
Eat Less or No Red Meat
One chemical in your bloodstream called trimethylamine N-oxide, or TMAO is very toxic to ageing, and is contained in protein in red meat. Studies show that people with higher levels of TMAO in their blood are at double the risk of heart attack or stroke, even if they exercise and don’t smoke, due to age-related tissue damage in the lining of the blood vessel. It has also been shown to bring on age-related cognitive decline.
Cut down Sugar and Salt
Salt and sugar have long been the enemy of heathy eating – with hidden amounts in our processed foods leading to problems with obesity and other ailments. Checking the amount of salt and sugar in what you buy is important. Studies show that midlifers who cut sugar and salt from their diets and ate more daily vegetables had lower levels of dementia diagnoses in their 80.
Ditch the “Western” Diet and Go Mediterranean
The “western” diet, with its high intakes of fried and sweet food, processed food, red meat, refined grains and high fat dairy products, does damage to our bodies. Those who had a diet like this were less likely to experience healthy ageing in later life, both mentally and physically, regardless of whether they exercised. As we age, our body is less able to repair itself from the damage unhealthy eating causes. The good news is if you eat well you still can repair your body. A compound found in olive oils, vinegar and red wine halted and in some cases repaired age related damage. The Mediterranean diet, with all these ingredients as well as plenty of fresh fruit, veg, oily fish and grains, are better for longevity. Quite simply, the quality of the overall ingredients you eat matters.
The Power of Red Wine
It’s not just a myth – red wine may have age-preventing power for women! Research shows that women who drink it moderately have higher bone density than non-drinkers or heavy drinkers. For women who are prone to bone thinning post-menopause, that is good news! It appears that alcohol reduces bone los by suppressing the rate at which your bone sheds old cells.
Intermittent Fasting is where you have a feasting window and a fasting window. It can significantly reduce the risk of dementia and cancers, because bad cells thrive on sugar, and intermittent fasting reduces insulin spikes throughout the day. It also lessens your changes or suffering a heart attack or stroke. There is a mountain of evidence on the positive ageing benefits of eating less and including a fasting window into your diet!
Combine, fresh food, wine, olive oil and, if possible, a plant-based diet. Ditch the fast food and red meat and you will see the benefits long term!