Healthy diet, antioxidants, critical nutrients and activities may provide the foundation to youthful living

As the baby boomer generation continues to increase in age, so does its passion to remain youthful, both inside and out. Beating the clock is now a multi-faceted, science-driven industry. From its age-old quests to find the elixir of life, to modern exploration of how microcellular activity contributes to metabolic breakdown, scientific research continues to advance its goals to enhance bodily energy, vigour and performance, and fade or stall the visible signs of aging.

Early research unveiled the fact that aging, technically cell damage, is caused by lifestyle and environmental influences — a result of 'wear and tear' on the body from overuse or abuse of poor dietary and lifestyle factors, such as excess sugar, alcohol, caffeine, fat and overexposure to sunlight. However, today we also know that there are many other metabolic factors implicated in the aging process, including inflammation, insulin resistance, mitochondrial dysfunction, and harmful free radicals.

Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules, a by-product of the metabolic process that creates energy in our cells. But as is found with many other beneficial functions, there can be a detrimental consequence. In this case, the cumulative effect of free radicals takes its toll over the years, resulting in both internal and external damage. What we can't see are the compromised membranes impeding the creation of hormones, protein, and enzymes, nor the affected DNA that can lead to reproduction of faulty cells. But what we do witness daily are the facial wrinkles, sagging skin, blotches, growths and spots, along with creeping chronic aches and pains, lack of energy, and other health issues.

The body has its own natural defense system of antioxidants to seek and diffuse the negative impact of free radicals. However, not all necessary micronutrients can be manufactured by the body so they must be supplied either by a nutritious diet and/or supplementation. Scientific research is focusing on a specific antioxidant program which may help control DNA-damaging free radicals. Researchers at McMaster University have demonstrated that a complex dietary supplement, containing 31 various ingredients including antioxidants, herbals vitamins and minerals, may be effective in improving aging or age-related pathologies.

Dietary supplements provide protection to the body as a whole. Working from the inside out, they aid in supplying elements to help reduce DNA damage, facilitate cell renewal, and increase circulation, as well as other powerful health benefits.  Some potent antioxidants include green tea, CoQ10, alpha lipoic acid, resveratrol, vitamins A, C, E, selenium, and carotenoids like lycopene, beta-carotene and lutein.  For instance, green tea which is rich in polyphenols can help protect against cancer, reduce cardiovascular disease, stroke, and appears to aid in the prevention of osteoporosis. And alpha lipoic acid, which helps to make cellular mitochondria more efficient thereby reducing free radical formation, also helps to fight insulin resistance and support neurological health. Although there is no one single nutrient that does it all, a combination of ingredients and products when paired together can provide the necessary benefits to keeping healthy both inside and out.

Conversely, creams and other topical preparations deliver their anti-aging benefits from the outside in. Research has shown that green tea polyphenols when used topically can help stimulate the proliferation of skin cells to assist in reversing the outward signs of aging, and in improving various skin disorders such as rosacea and psoriasis.  Furthermore, green tea may protect against sun damage and sunburn, as it reduces inflammation caused by ultraviolet radiation and restores the levels of glutathione (GSH) which is the body's main endogenous antioxidant.

The vast amount of current literature and science supports the use of powerful antioxidants and critical nutrients to protect, prevent, maintain and sustain total well-being. Though the fountain of youth remains an eternal legend, a daily regime consisting of healthy diet and activities with the support of a comprehensive selection of warranted antioxidants is the common sense path to providing the foundation to youthful living.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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