By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach
How often do you hear comments like, "it's too late, the damage has been done", followed by laughter (which doesn't always ring true) on the subject of health and ageing. In my line of business I hear it a lot particularly from people who are resistant to changing their diet.
But it's not too late - our entire bodies are made up of cells which are constantly being replaced. Our skin cells shed to make way for new skin cells, the lining of our digestive tract is renewed in less than a week and our blood cells are replaced every four months. When we eat well our body is far more likely to produce functional, healthy cells than if we eat rubbish. A diet of soft drink, processed fatty food and alcohol is a sure-fire way to engage your body in the production of dysfunctional, unhealthy cells.
The gardeners amongst you will understand the logic. If you want the seeds you've planted to grow you must start by planting them in soil with the right nutrients.
The whammy of course is life's circumstances. Just like the seeds which are susceptible to environmental stress, such as heavily or no rain, insect infestation or possum patrol, our bodies are put through the ringer of life, with genetic, work and environmental stressors, many of which we can't control.
But we can control our diet.
There is a catch. Recognising that cellular regeneration only stops when we do (and by that I don't mean stopping to have a cup of tea), may help you understand that fast fad diets will not work. You may feel and look better for a while, but as soon as you start eating badly again, the cellular regeneration will reflect your old habits again.
When you eat a diet that is rich phytonutrients, essential fatty acids and amino acids, you reduce inflammation in the body which is the trigger to pain and ageing.
To age gracefully you need to reduce inflammation in the body and promote functional regeneration of (very) healthy body cells. Here are 7 top foods which will help you do that.
1.) Red tea
Unlike green tea, red tea or rooibos tea, comes with all the antioxidants and no caffeine. In particular Rooibos contains polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimutagenic qualities.
Try substituting coffee, black and green tea with red tea throughout the day. There's no limit to how much you can drink.
Pomegranates have been shown to halt the enzyme reactions the body uses in triggering inflammation and ultimately pain. They are particularly high in antioxidants.
Pomegranate seeds are great sprinkled over muesli for breakfast, or mixed into quinoa or rice and served at lunch or dinner. They're particularly good added to traditional tabouleh. Try 100% pomegranate juice mixed with sparkling mineral water as a healthy soft drink substitute.
Asparagus is a rich source of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps to boost your immune system.
We love asparagus steamed and served with lemon zest a sprinkle of sea salt and a little splash of olive oil. With poached eggs and a shaving of goat's cheese it's delightful and it's even nice barbecued.
Eating berries helps to build one of your body's most powerful antioxidants: superoxide dismutase (SOD) which helps to reduce oxidative stress in our bodies and joint pain.
It's hard to beat blueberries as they are with a spoonful of natural yoghurt, or, as a friend likes to do, eat them like lollies straight from the punnet!
5.) Shitake mushrooms
Shitake mushrooms are high in polyphenols and help target your liver cells from damage. Maintaining a strong healthy liver is crucial for a healthy body as it is the liver which helps to clear toxins from the body, process food nutrients and regulate our metabolism
Sliced through miso soup and cooked with salmon, noodles, Asian greens and fresh chilli - YUM - I know no better way to strengthen the immune system.
Salmon is one of the best sources of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), a crucial Omega 3 fatty acid which amongst other things helps to reduce inflammation, reduce symptoms of depression, arthritis, and the risk of heart disease.
With the soup mentioned above, grilled and served with chat potatoes a whole egg mayo and a fresh green salad, or baked with fennel and black olives. However you like it, have it 2 - 3 times a week.
Its anti-inflammatory properties have also been proven to reduce osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, lower cholesterol, prevent blood clots, heart disease, and stroke.
Fresh ginger is nice grated and served with hot water and lemon as a tea/coffee substitute. It's a must have in all stir fries and, if you're juicing throw a knob into the machine every day.
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