Eating habits are a major determinant in how quickly you begin to see and feel the effects of aging.
People only worry about the relationship that exists between food and weight gain but food affects the age process too.
It turns out that bad food habits, including eating sugary, fatty, refined and highly processed foods, do more than add fat to your waist, experts say, they subtract years from your life.
Nutrition, not age, determines the body’s internal chemistry, and that chemistry determines, in a large part, the quality and resiliency of virtually every organ, cell and system in the body.
Therefore, your food habits, either positive or negative, play a huge role in increasing or slowing the aging process since everything from the condition of your skin to the quality of your bone, brain and connective tissue is determined in part by what you eat.
Find out exactly what food habits affect your aging process negatively.
A weakness for fast food- Trans fat (a vegetable-oil concoction infused with hydrogen atoms),present in fast foods, has this result — inflammation. Trans fat is to chronic inflammation what kerosene is to fire. Inflammation ages you from the inside out by nibbling away at your telomeres, the caps protecting the ends of your chromosomes. Every time a chromosome divides, its telomere shortens. So telomere length is not only a sign of how old you are, but also a measure of how well your body is aging. Trans fat also adds years to your age by muffling communication between cells. Cells need pliable walls to talk to one another. The body makes cell walls out of fat — good fat equals healthy walls; bad fat equals patchy walls. Because trans fat is manmade, the molecule has an unnatural shape. The solution is to steer clear of fast food, ask for ingredient lists at restaurants, and read product labels at the grocery store. Although many fast-food chains and prepared-food manufacturers are scrambling to nix trans fat from their products, very few have managed a total clear-out.
Giving in to a serious sweet tooth- The human body evolved with a limited ability to break down sugar, and very limited access to it in concentrated forms, so processing the comparatively giant loads we consume nowadays puts a huge strain on our systems. Excess sugar loiters in the blood and causes trouble by glomming onto protein molecules, an age-accelerating process called glycosylation that causes cellular aging in several ways. “Sugar molecules gum up the collagen in your skin,which makes it less elastic, makes it wrinkle faster, and means it won’t heal as quickly if it’s damaged." The solution is to cut back as far as you can, and for the sweets you must eat, choose foods made with less heavily processed natural sugars, such as honey, instead of refined (white) sugar. One more tip: Don’t swap your sugar for artificial sweeteners. There’s evidence that they can do as much or more damage to your health.
Carbo-loading — Refined carbs are simply sugars in disguise. “Every starch turns into sugar the minute it hits your bloodstream,” says Lodge. Beyond glycosylation, refined carbs set the stage for insulin resistance. After a meal laden with refined carbohydrates, the body’s blood-sugar levels soar, and the pancreas sprays insulin into the bloodstream to help cells convert the food’s energy (glucose) into fuel. But the body often miscalculates and releases too much insulin because (again) evolution hasn’t kept pace with the modern diet. As a result of too much insulin, blood-sugar levels drop, and 30 minutes later you’re hungry again. Stick to complex carbohydrates instead, such as vegetables and 100 percent whole grains. Because the outer layers of the grain are left intact, whole grains take longer for the body to digest, and the sugar is released in a slow, steady stream.
Waiting until you’re really hungry before eating- Waiting too long between meals is one of the surest ways to age the body before its time, says Oz. That’s because hunger pangs can lead to overeating, which may lead to obesity. Here’s how it works: A growling stomach signals “hunger” in the brain by releasing the hormone ghrelin. The problem is that it takes 30 minutes for ghrelin levels to return to normal once you’ve started to nosh. So odds are you’ll overeat. Don’t wait to eat until you’re ready to chew your arm off; instead, keep a little food in your stomach at all times, advises Oz. Schedule regular snack or meal breaks into your day, and keep a stash of healthy mini-meals available for when you’re on the go. Eat a balance of healthy proteins, carbs and fats at each meal, choosing whole foods (which digest more gradually) whenever possible.
Eating at your desk — or in the car, or while stressed in any way. Stress hormones, automatically released by the body under all kinds of stressful circumstances, are antithetical to digestion in a couple of ways. First, the release of adrenaline and cortisol — “fight-or-flight” chemicals — diverts blood toward your limbs and away from your stomach and intestines, which hinders your intestines’ ability to break down food and absorb nutrients. As a result, digestion grinds to a halt and food ferments, sending unusual metabolites into the bloodstream, explains Kevin Spelman, PhD, a research scientist in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. Second, stress throws off the gut’s acidity and, therefore, its ability to absorb certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12. As if that weren’t enough, cortisol also suppresses the body’s repair mechanisms. And finally, eating while stressed or distracted is also more likely to lead to unconscious eating, meaning you’ll be vulnerable to eating more than you intended or be prone to eating foods you would never have intended to eat under better circumstances. Slow down at mealtime. Instead of munching behind the wheel or at your desk, find a spot where you can relax and focus on your food and the pleasure of eating. If possible, eat with others whose company you enjoy, or eat in a place that makes you feel safe and happy. At home, create a relaxing atmosphere; set the table and light a candle, suggests Spelman: “Just as your senses assimilate that environment in a pleasant way, your body will assimilate food in a more efficient way.”
All of these is not to say that you can not have the occasional ice cream, but, too much of bad food habits will definitely speed up the aging process.