Ask anyone over maybe thirty or forty years old if they’d like to stay looking and feeling younger, and you’re sure to hear a resounding “yes!” There are many approaches to slowing the seemingly relentless effects of time’s passing, and countless theories as to what causes the myriad changes that occur in our physiologies, but happily, even without consensus from all sides or total understanding of the science behind it all, there’s complete agreement from experts in every disciplines that one foolproof place to start — and likely, to get fantastic, long-term benefits to your well-being and longevity as well as your appearance — is through the addition of nutrient-packed fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
A Quick Stop at the Energy Station
Being and staying beautiful makes much more sense if it’s combined with a lifestyle incorporating activities you enjoy, that keep you fit and engaged without undue fatigue. A study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis identified a compound called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) that can contribute to the reversal of certain effects of aging through increasing our energy and improving the way we metabolize energy from food (particularly sugars). Older mice given supplemental NMN saw improvements in metabolism and energy reserves, because our NMN supply diminishes as we age.
The good news is that this compound occurs naturally in many fruits and vegetables, making it easy to include in your anti-aging dietary approach. While foods rich in NMN such as broccoli, edamame, cabbage, avocados, and cucumbers won’t allow you to reach the levels given to the mice in the tests, eating them will increase your intake of the substance, and it should prove beneficial over time. And anyway, heading for the produce aisle has all kinds of other anti-aging perks. More about that below:
The tip about adding antioxidant-rich foods to your diet is likely advice you’ve heard before, but sometimes the reminder can be motivating. Study after study shows that oxidation-fighting compounds can help with everything from speeding cell turnover in order to reveal healthier, new skin underneath, to protecting our skin from the damage caused by the sun and other environmental assaults.
Let The Rainbow Be Your Guide
An easy way to identify some of the more obvious antioxidant-rich foods is to look for brightly colored fruits and vegetables. These jewel-toned hues clue us into the presence of high amounts of either vitamin A, vitamin C, or phytonutrients such as proanthocyanidins, which are wrinkle-fighting, collagen-boosting gifts for your skin.
Leafy greens have gained popularity in recent years for their superfood-level health benefits, and they belong in the “rainbow” category of antioxidant go-to choices, as well. Kale is a favorite of many and has certainly been popularized in recent years, and for good reason: it’s almost absurdly rich in vitamins A, C, K, lutein, and iron. Vitamin K taken internally has the exciting benefit of potentially reducing the appearance of dark circles under the eyes, which make us appear tired and older than our years (try HéBella Goddess Eyes as a topical approach in addition to a healthy dietary plan).
Lutein in those green leafies keeps your eyes beautiful in part by preventing such detrimental age-related problems such as macular degeneration, but the health benefits of lutein are not limited to the eyes. Lutein also does its good work to protect the skin against unwanted developments, such as reduced lipid content, hydration, and flexibility. And if all that weren’t enough, leafy greens’ rich dose of iron is important for energy and for adding a healthy pinkness to the cheeks. (It should be noted that for optimal vitamin A or -K absorption, fat should be consumed along with these plant foods, as these are fat-soluble vitamins.)
Nuts and Seeds For Beauty
Don’t limit yourself to the rainbow . . . many benefits can be found through the consumption of all sorts of foods with less-than-vibrant hues. The key takeaway is to avoid all those foods (that most of us over-consume) that are beige, white, or otherwise dull-colored due to being processed or refined. An example a beige food to embrace? Brazil nuts are a powerful source of selenium, an antioxidant with super-status, treasured for its immune-boosting and heart-health promoting benefits in addition to all the ways it helps to keep you gorgeous (through oxidation prevention, sun protection, speeding cell turnover, and all those other awesome tricks we mentioned that antioxidants keep up their sleeves).
Keeping within the family of nuts and seeds, familiar sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin E, a classically revered skin nutrient. As a bonus, they contain essential fatty acids, which make the fat-soluble vitamin absorbable by the body. Vitamin E, like its antioxidant brethren, protects against toxins such as air pollution and, of course, sun damage. But the benefits of vitamin E on issues associated with aging don’t stop there: it also helps to prevent eye maladies such as cataracts, and can help stave off Alzheimer's disease and diabetes. Nuts and seeds eaten in moderation are rich sources of healthy fats for our skin, hair, and brain, as well as neurological health. They should definitely be part of any anti-aging diet.
Can it Really Be This Fun and Simple?
There are multiple angles to approaching an anti-aging regimen that also lead to a higher quality of life, and dietary choices are just one of them. Daily heart-pumping exercise, pleasurable social connections, and meditation or other spiritual practices can keep you nimble and healthy in body and mind through the decades. The conscientious use of excellent skincare products and protection from the sun is another. Consistently sufficient and rejuvenating sleep, moderate intake of alcohol, and steering clear of obvious troublemakers such as cigarettes and drugs are universally agreed upon to be absolutes. And adding in a daily smoothie or salad packed full of nutrients to make your skin glow and your body thrive? That, we think, is particularly pleasurable and easy.