Is the Fountain of Youth in Your Kitchen?

I found this great article by Prevention letting us know why the foods we eat—or don’t—may speed the aging processes along, making us feel and look older before our time. I know, I know, I’m still young and I don’t need to worry about these things yet but (!) I’d like to get a head start on this. And I’m sure many other ladies my age and older would too!

The reason is simple. “We eat too many processed foods,” says David Katz, MD, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center. “They’re often high in calories and low in nutrients such as vitamin B12 and omega-3s, so we end up with islands of deficiencies in a sea of excess.” These inadequacies can result in symptoms we tend to assume are due to aging, such as the four below.

You’re feeling fatigued and have less energy than normal. You may need more: Vitamin B12. Found only in foods that are derived from animals, this nutrient helps regulate your metabolism and energy production and is key to maintaining a healthy brain and nervous system. Also, something that many people probably don’t know including myself, chewing a lot of antacids to relieve heartburn can also lead to B12 deficiency, because antacids interfere with B12 absorption. How to fix the problem? Have two servings of nonfat dairy foods, such as fat-free milk or nonfat yogurt, and 3 to 4 ounces of lean protein daily. Good sources of B12 include seafood such as fish, clams, oysters, and mussels, as well as lean beef and pork, chicken, and fortified cereal.

You’re feeling pains in your joints and aren’t as flexible as you used to be. You may need more: Manganese and Copper. Manganese and copper are both essential for maintaining joint cartilage and flexibility. How to fix the problem? Nuts, beef, and spinach are good sources of these nutrients, but you won’t be able to eat enough to get all your copper and manganese, so you may want to take 2 mg of copper and 5 mg of manganese each day. You should be feeling better within a couple months!

You’re more forgetful. You may need more: Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids. It’s not only the amount of omega-3s that’s important (although they’re an important part of the brain’s building blocks), the balance between omega-3s and omega-6s is equally crucial. We tend to get an overload of Omega-6s due to our intake of processed foods and not enough Omega-3s. How to fix the problem? First, reduce the amount of refined and processed foods you eat as much as possible, and cook with olive or canola oil. You’ll also need a 4 oz serving of a fatty fish per week, sprinkle some flaxseed on your cereal or yogurt in the morning & grab a handful of walnuts & almonds a couple times a week. It seems like a lot but these are things that you should be doing anyway to stay happy & healthy! :)

You can almost feel your blood pressure rising. You may need more: Potassium. Having too little potassium will magnify the effects of excessive salt intake. Most processed foods have added sodium but no extra potassium, so if your meals come from boxes, you’re likely at risk. How to fix the problem? Cut your sodium consumption to no more than 1,500 mg per day, and eat seven to nine servings of fruits and vegetables every day. It’s tough getting all those fruits and vegetables in but if you make sure the majority of every meal is a fruit or vegetable I think you’ll be able to tackle this task!

Have you tried any of the fixes above for vitamin/mineral deficiencies? Do you have any other tips to sustain health and vitality as we age? Let a girl know!

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