With average life expectancy on the rise, people want to look and feel their best right through into their later years. Below we’ll give some insight into anti ageing foods and their unique properties.August 31, 2022 11:09 am August 22, 2022 12:40 pm
What is ageing?
No one person is immune to the effects of ageing. It’s an inevitable part of life. Hence, the demand for anti ageing foods. At a biological level, the accumulation of molecular and cellular damage occurs over time. Moreover, there are two types of ageing – intrinsic and extrinsic.
Intrinsic ageing is a genetically predetermined process that occurs naturally. Extrinsic ageing is a result of factors, such as where you live and your lifestyle.
Every person on the planet should have the opportunity to live a long and healthy life. However, our environments play a huge role towards our health. Environments are highly influential on our behaviour, exposure to health risks, and access to foods and services.
The human body relies on a wide range of nutrients to support the natural ageing process. Our diet has a huge impact on our appearance, quality of life and risk of disease. As a result, we’ll discuss anti ageing foods and their special qualities.
Walnuts are round, single-seeded stone fruits that grow from the walnut tree. Commercially available as raw, roasted, salted or unsalted, walnuts are rich in antioxidants and omega fatty acids. In fact, they’re richer than most other nuts in this department. This is a winning formula when it comes to anti-ageing properties.
Functioning gut health is essential for good skin health. Therefore, if it becomes unbalanced, our skin is usually the first place we notice problems. This is because skin protection, temperature regulation and water retention all stem from a healthy gut. Consequently, to heal the skin, it’s essential that you first heal the gut.(1)
Scientists investigated the effect of walnuts on gut health. The results suggest that walnut intake might offer prebiotic and probiotic benefits. However, to validate these positive effects further studies are needed.(2)
Another proposed benefit of nuts are their anti ageing effects towards hair. In particular, ageing hair can become drier, due to shrinking oil glands that keep natural oils from reaching the hair as intended. Does this mean almonds can be categorised alongside other anti ageing foods?
One of the most effective ways to take care of your hair is by regularly applying an oil treatment. Different experts recommend different oils, ranging from coconut to almond oil. In particular, almond oil may strengthen hair due to its high content of healthy fats.
To administer a relaxing oil treatment, gently heat your chosen oil until it’s slightly warm to the touch. Section your dry hair and apply, smoothing the oil over each part, and massaging it into your scalp. Leave to rest for about 30 minutes and finally wash, and condition as normal.
The cosmetic market for hair oils is huge and growing. Although scientific proof has come to light in recent research, further studies are needed to precisely define the mechanism of action. However, because of their popularity it is important that dermatologists are aware of their possible effects on hair.(3)
Sunflower seeds are a popular street food snack with people tending to buy them freshly roasted. In general, the seeds are more commonly eaten as a snack than as part of a meal. However, they can also be used as garnishes or ingredients in various recipes.
Similar to nuts, seeds might have anti ageing properties. This makes sense as nutritionally speaking, most nuts and seeds generally contain many of the same nutrients. Both are rich in vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. Erbology crackers are rich in sunflower seeds, the perfect anti-ageing snack!
Moreover, sunflower seeds are one of the best sources of vitamin E. This could be very effective in relation to anti-ageing. Vitamin E is a vital antioxidant that protects cells from damage associated with oxidative stress caused by free radicals. The brain is highly susceptible to oxidative stress, which increases during ageing and is considered a major contributor to brain degeneration.
Several Randomised control trials (RCTs) studied the beneficial effect of vitamin E on brain function. The results highlighted the importance of adequate vitamin E use in support of healthy brain function. However, other RCTs failed to find an association with vitamin E intake. Therefore, the benefit of vitamin E as a treatment for neurodegenerative disorders is still under debate.(4)
Do chia seeds have anti ageing properties?
Chia seeds are the edible seeds of a flowering plant in the mint family native to central and southern Mexico. Moreover, chia seeds are abundant in niacin (vitamin B3). Studies have found a connection between niacin deficiency, hair loss and in some cases alopecia.(5)
Hair loss isn’t uncommon, with the condition affecting almost 50% of men and women by the age of 50. Our scalp contains around 100,000 hair follicles. We will never have a greater amount throughout our lifetime. In fact, we cannot generate new hair follicles beyond those we are born with. However, the good news is that if the hair loss is related to vitamin deficiency, there is a manageable solution to regaining normal and healthy hair growth.
Scientists found that vitamin B3 could reduce hair loss because it increases blood circulation in the scalp. Blood transports oxygen and nutrients to keep hair follicles active. Hence, poor blood circulation causes hair follicles to shrink and become inactive. Therefore, the hair follicles can’t grow hair.
Moreover, vitamin B3 also prevents hair loss by reducing inflammation in the scalp. Just like poor blood circulation, inflammation is one of the major contributors towards hair loss. Inflammation weakens the follicles causing hair to fall out.(6)
Fortunately, it’s not hard to get your daily dose of niacin. Chia seed powder is easy to incorporate into your diet for example, porridge, cereal or smoothies. Moreover, conditions such as alopecia are rare in many countries where niacin fortification of foods is compulsory.
Does this mean chia seeds can be classified as one of the anti ageing foods? Despite biological plausibility, plus positive research, further trial data needs to be completed before there is sufficient data to inform us on the benefits of nuts and seeds.
"Functioning gut health is essential for good skin health. If it becomes unbalanced, our skin is usually the first place we notice problems."
Anti ageing effects of olive oil
Perhaps best known for its application in fried foods and salad dressings, olive oil is a household staple. The popular oil comes from a crop of the Mediterranean Basin, produced by pressing whole olives and extracting the oil.
A diet rich in extra virgin olive oil has been linked to a lower risk of chronic disease associated with old age. Some scientists suggest that one of the reasons the Mediterranean diet is so healthy is because olive oil is a fundamental part of the diet. Does this make olive oil one of the anti ageing foods?
Due to its high phenolic compound content, olive oil can be recommended by healthcare professionals in the prevention of chronic disease and the consequent improvement in quality of life that degrades with age.(7)
Research suggests olive oil has the ability to be an anti ageing food. Especially as it has lowered the risk of chronic disease associated with old age. However, further research needs to be conducted to form a solid conclusion. Especially on the amount to be consumed.
The UK government recommends that the majority of our fat intake should include monounsaturated fats (MUFAs). In particular, MUFAs make up about 73% of olive oil. We all need some fat in our diet but eating too much of any fat makes us more likely to become overweight. This increases our likelihood of developing more serious health problems. Fat should be no more than 35% of our diet.(8)
Cocoa beans are packed with polyphenols, which act as antioxidants and reduce inflammation caused by sunlight. Furthermore, this reduction increases blood circulation and helps the skin retain moisture.
Emphasis is on dark chocolate, not just any kind. Dark chocolate generally has a higher polyphenol content and lower sugar content. Multiple studies have documented the anti ageing effect of sugar, especially on its negative effects on skin. Sugar molecules break down collagen fibres, which cause reduced elasticity, giving the skin a saggy appearance.(9)
Before you raid your cupboards for chocolate, make sure it has a minimum of 70% cocoa s