Theory of Ageing
Our DNA contains small tiny units called “Telomere” at the ends, just like the plastic case at the end of a shoe lace, which protects the lace from getting damaged. Our cells are dividing on permanent bases some getting replaced by new one, some die completely. The telomere replicates completely each time the cell divides but with increasing age and oxidative stress (overproduction of free radicals) they are not able to replicate completely and thus their length begins to shorten. Ageing is defined by shortening of this telomere. So maintaining the length of telomere is the key to longevity. We can maintain the length of telomere by modulating our lifestyle, making necessary changes to both our diet and nutrient intake.
There are many food and nutrients which can prevent shortening of telomere and prevent ageing. These foods can be divided into 5 Category.
- Vegetables – Green vegetables is considered as the most important part of healthy and balanced diet as they are supply important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, folate, fibre and antioxidants. Antioxidants provide protection against free radical damage reducing the oxidative stress hence prevent telomere shortening. Green coloured vegetables contains chlorophyll which binds the toxins for its excretion from the body. Toxins also increase free radical productions. The fibre from vegetables forms bulk for stool for proper defecation and promotes growth of healthy gut bacteria. Include a minimum of 4-6 serving of different coloured seasonal vegetables on daily basis to reap the benefits.
- Berries – Berries are considered as Superfood because they are rich in Polyphenols, Flavonoids, Anthocyanins and Resveratrol which have potential health benefits ranging from cardiovascular protection to neutralising the free radicals and thereby reducing inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is primary factor for ageing and berries are pretty good at reducing oxidative stress through its excellent nutritional profile. Berries are low in fructose and contains high amount of Vitamin C, folic acid and soluble fibre.
- Fats – Healthy fats should be a part of well balanced diet. All cell membranes are made of phospholipids, a form of fats. Fats are the source of fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E & K plus also aids in absorption of these nutrients from other food sources. There has been lot of Myth and confusion about Fat consumption. Fats are also required for proper functioning of brain as brain is almost 60% fats in composition. Fats are source of Omega fatty acids essential for optimal functioning of organelles and cells. Omega 3 has been shown to have strong Anti-inflammatory effects and provides protection against free radical damage. All hormones are made from cholesterol which is a fatty substance. The ideal healthy fats should come from fatty fish like salmon or sardines, olive oil, avocados or avocado oil, nuts and seeds. The major portion of fats should come from polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats while keeping the saturated fats minimal approximately 10% of total fat consumption. Saturated fats are also essential and required for optimal body functions and should come from cold pressed coconut oil and Desi Ghee (Clarified butter). The Trans fatty acids (Hydrogenated vegetable oils) increases the free radical production as they are not absorbed by our digestive system and causes serious health issue in long term. Fats also protect our skin and hair from UV damage and keep our skin supple and prevent premature ageing of skin and greying of hairs.
- Legumes – Legumes include beans and lentils which are rich source of soluble fibre integral for Intestinal health by acting as feed for intestinal bacteria. The intestinal flora helps control cholesterol production and produces Short Chain Fatty acids like butyrates, propionates and acetates. These fatty acids acts anti bacterial and anti inflammatory reducing the oxidative stress and promoting gastrointestinal health essential for longevity and protection from infestation from microbes. Legumes are nutrient dense with low glycemic index. Many studies related to anti-aging has found that people with highest longevity includes some kind of legumes on regular basis in their diet suited to their demographic region.
- Spices and Herbs – Spices and herbs are an important constitute of every diet since ages. The spices and herbs add taste to the food and has anti ageing benefits as well. The Curcumin has been used for ages in India and around and few decades ago it came to limelight in western region with studies validating the multiple health benefits and then they extracted the active constituents and presented it in form of caps or tabs as a health supplement. Chinese medicinal system also believes in potent health promoting effects of herbs and spices and they are using to cure and preventing the diseases. The herbs and spices contain special volatile oils and constituents having medicinal properties, aids in digestion, acting as antioxidants and prevent age related decline in physiological functions, support immune system, protecting from various toxins and supporting various detoxification pathways for effective excretion of toxins from the body. Curcumin tops the list when it comes to anti-ageing effect in herbs and spices. Then comes the cinnamon, ginger, garlic and holy basil. You can use them in moderation consuming in each one of them at a time with different meals during the day.