We’ve all heard the saying ‘you’re only as old as you feel’. Whilst ageing is natural and inevitable, we can help ourselves feel younger, from the inside out, by including certain foods in our diet.
Here are some age-defying wonder foods (and nutrients) that can help you stop the clock.
1. Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 helps make red blood cells and is essential to maintain a healthy nervous system. Absorption of B12 declines with age and it’s thought that up to 40 per cent of older people, regardless of diet, suffer from low levels.
Deficiency can cause extreme tiredness and fatigue, problems with memory, comprehension and depression. It can also increase the risk of heart disease and stroke, so it’s very important that you get enough!
Top tip: Take a supplement! We recommend 50 micrograms per day (or up to 2,000 once a week) alongside topping up with B12-fortified foods such as Marmite, nutritional yeast, plant milks, yoghurts and cereals.
We all get aches and pains from time to time and, unfortunately, painful joints tend to become more common with age.
When it comes to joint pain, ginger is your friend. Ginger contains a biochemical called gingerol which is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. When regularly consumed, it works wonders for pain and swelling caused by conditions such as arthritis. Turmeric contains curcumin which has similar anti-inflammatory properties.
On top of all of that, ginger can help protect your brain – helping to prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
Top tip: Ginger can easily be added to your diet – fresh, in powder form, or as a supplement! Add fresh ginger to smoothies, curries and stir-fries!
We all grew up being told that eating carrots would help us to see in the dark. Whilst this might have been a slight exaggeration, there is some truth to it.
Carrots are high in a type of carotenoid called beta-carotene, which is used by the body to produce the pigment in our eyes that allows us to see in low-light conditions.
Beta-carotene also protects against the most common cause of vision loss – age-related macular degeneration. So, if you want to help protect your eyesight into your later years, carrots are the way to go.
4. Sesame seeds
Often overlooked, humble sesame seeds and tahini (sesame seed paste), are packed full of nutrients to keep you feeling young. Just one tablespoon contains 18 per cent of your daily copper, and 11 per cent of manganese, both essential for your nervous system, healthy bones, skin and cartilage. It also contains more than 10 per cent of your daily calcium, which as we all know, is crucial for healthy bones and teeth.
These very special seeds are the richest source of phytosterols in the nut and seed family, and therefore, are excellent for helping to lower your cholesterol.
They also provide iron, magnesium, zinc, protein and B vitamins thrown in for good measure, so you can’t go far wrong making room for sesame seeds in your diet!
Top tip: Sesame seeds can be sprinkled over your cereal, porridge, curries or stir-fries. Tahini is an incredibly versatile ingredient that can be used in everything from cookies to smoothies and stir-fries. Or simply just spread it on your toast in the morning!
Whether you’re a tofu addict or still unsure, there’s no denying tofu’s many health benefits.
One 100 gram serving (around half a standard pack) contains 57 per cent of your daily calcium, as well as being a great source of low-fat protein and iron!
As we age, our bones deteriorate and lose density. Calcium is a building block for bones, so it’s vital that we get enough calcium in our diet.
Tofu can be eaten in a wide variety of different ways, so it’s worth experimenting and finding ways that work for you – teriyaki tofu, sesame-baked tofu, scrambled tofu, tofu fish fingers… check out the tasty recipes here.
Top tip: Calcium can only build bones properly if your body has enough vitamin D to help you absorb it. Make sure you get enough vitamin D by getting daily sun exposure on your skin in the spring and summer months and taking a supplement in the winter.
It’s no secret that berries are packed full of goodness. They have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects, as well as lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. The phytochemicals they contain help to protect plants against UV radiation and environmental damage, and they do the same for us!
Blackberries are champions of the berry family. They have all the benefits of other berries plus bonus nutrients such as vitamin A – essential for healthy vision, immune function and many vital reactions in our bodies – and vitamin K, essential for blood clotting, bone health and the immune system.
Just one cup of blackberries also covers about half of your daily need for manganese, necessary for good bone health, immune system and healing.
Top tip: Blackberries can be thrown into a smoothie, or eaten with yoghurt or porridge, as a breakfast or dessert!
There you have it – keep happy, healthy and feeling young!