Antioxidants

The Longevity Foods List

Purchased photo. And if you remember, the original banner of WittyNutrition in 2009!The Science Behind a Long and Vital Life

Aging is a process that none of us can stop but plenty of us try to slow down.  So what does it come down to?  And how can we modify our external factors?

Genetics - Unfortunately not much you can do to change this!  But what you can do is take hold of the narrative.  Talk with your family, stay aware of your personal and familial health risks, and bring these up with your team of health care providers.  This way they can help guide you and provide suggestions for minimizing risks.  Knowledge is power and will guide your decision making.  

Sleep - Even though I've said it before, I'm just going to go ahead and reinforce how important adequate sleep is to cell regeneration and hormonal balance.  Although it can be hard to do, set up good habits surrounding bedtime and don't let yourself get sleep deprived too often.

Stress - Managing stress is also important to maintaining a healthy hormonal balance.  This is a particularly important topic in encouraging healthful stress management.  That means trying to utilize behaviors such as exercise instead of smoking or drinking excessive alcohol to deal with those tough days.

Food and Drink - Ah yes, the most modifiable aspect of the discussion, and something you get an average of 21 opportunities a week to maximize.  So let's talk about the most friendly foods for fighting free radicals (yay, antioxidants), fighting cancer and chronic diseases, and aging gracefully.  Some of these superfoods are adapted from Chef and guru of cooking for optimal health, Rebecca Katz' list from her new book, The Longevity Kitchen.  Some of them are added on by yours truly based on the science of food that I speak about every day with clients.

Superfoods List

Almonds   |   Asparagus   |   Avocado   |   Basil   |   Black and Green Teas   |   Berries (all of the above but blueberries and blackberries pack the biggest antioxidant punch)   |   Cinnamon   |   Citrus   |   Coffee   |   Dark Chocolate   |   Flaxseed and Chia Seed   |   Garlic   |   Grapefruit   |   Kale   |   Kimchi   |   Leeks   |   Olive Oil   |   Onion   |   Pomegranates   |   Soy   |   Spinach   |   Sweet Potato   |   Thyme   |   Tomato   |   Walnuts   |   Watermelon   |   Wild Salmon   |   Yogurt

And most importantly - Water!  What would you add to this list?  What foods are part of your favorite go-to recipes to help you stay healthy and vital?

The Science Behind Antioxidants

Antioxidants

Photo courtesy of MarthStewart.comGreen tea gets touted as a wonderful source of antioxidants - and deservedly so.  So what are antioxidants?  Antioxidants are tiny compounds that help to grab up free-radicals that float around the body and do damage.  These free radicals are a natural by-product of many oxidation reactions that go on inside our bodies.  The problem often is that once they're formed and let loose, they "go rogue" on our other cells and do the kind of damage that causes aging and trigger.

Providing the body with phytonutrients (nutrients contained within the pigmentation of all those wonderful fruits and vegetables) and antioxidants help to slow down these processes at the cellular level.  Tea of all colors contain a large number of antioxidants with green teas and white teas topping the list.  They also provide a subset of antioxidants called catechins.  Catechins get little face time in the media (they're just not sexy enough) but are important because they help to increase our basal metabolic rate (translated to increase the number of calories your body burns at baseline) and are associated with weight management.  There is even some interesting research that points to their role in helping to regulate insulin metabolism.

The Bottom Line

All in all, incorporating green and white teas into your routine can and will help your bod to fight off oxidative stress and free radicals, decrease systemic inflammation, and rev up that metabolic baseline.  Antioxidants are a great buzzword to know when discussing nutrition but I wanted to help clarify the scientific picture behind these oft-talked about compounds.