Did you know that aging can be minimized and even reversed and many diseases prevented through the choices we make through our diets? It may sound like voodoo science but it is true.
I understand that the holidays can be stressful, but I encourage you to make your own health a priority and not put off making changes in your diet and lifestyle until New Years!
What I am going to propose is not a diet. It does not involve starving yourself, becoming a vegan, or investing hundreds of dollars in supplements that you don’t need. But, it is a way of looking at food that hopefully will affect the food choices you make.
Antioxidants are nutrients in our food or supplements that can help prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body, otherwise known as aging or disease. Basically, antioxidants combat free radicals by giving up their own electrons thereby neutralizing the free radicals electronic charge. Unfortunately, our body does not produce antioxidants so they must be obtained elsewhere!
Enzymes are small protein moleules that act as catalysts to break down the food in our system, providing us with nutrients and energy. Not only are fruits and vegetables, and even raw milk, bursting with enzymes but, unlike antioxidants, our body produces and even stores enzymes. Free radicals, though, deplete our enzyme reserves over time which results in aging and disease.
There are three types of enzymes: digestive (run digestive process), metabolic (run our bodies) and food enzymes (exist outside of our bodies in the foods that we eat.)
And, there are three main digestive enzymes: amylase (excreted by salivary glands and breaks down carbohydrates), protease (excreted by stomach and breaks down proteins) and lipase (excreted by pancreas and breaks down fats.) Other enzymes are the gastric enzymes pepsin and hydrochloric acid, which break down food in the small intestine and the pancreatic enzyme bicarbonate, which neutralizes acid or milk enzymes.
So, what does all this mean to me? How can I apply this in my own life to minimize aging?
In a nutshell, your goal should be to reduce free radicals from toxins and stress in your environment and add foods rich in antioxidants and live enzymes into your diet.
Here are some easy steps to take:
1) Up Your Antioxidant and Enzyme Intake and Have a Fresh Fruit or Vegetable at Every Meal.
My rule of thumb is instead of asking yourself about calories every time you sit down from a meal, ask the question “does this food have an antioxidant or enzyme in it and how will it fuel my body?”
Fresh fruits and vegetables are packed not only with antioxidants but also with enzymes. Practically speaking this means that you top your oatmeal with fresh blueberries , have a fresh green salad aside your grilled salmon, pile your sandwich high with tomatos and fresh spinach and have a fresh apple with almond butter for a snack. The more live enzymes and antioxidants you can get in the better!
As a sidenote, also make sure that you have lots of fresh, uncooked fruits and vegetables in your diet. Some enzymes are destroyed when the food is heated over 110 degrees and our bodies also use enzymes to digest the food we eat so we want to make sure that we are adding to our enzyme reserve.
4) Reduce Free Radical Damage Caused by Stress
Exercise regularly, get plenty of rest, introduce meditating into your daily life, spend time outdoors with nature and unplug from the tv, computer, iphone, blackberry whatever for a few hours each day.
5) Take Enzymes & Antioxidant Supplements
I know, I know, I know I said I would not recommend tons of supplements. But, digestive enzymes are an exception! I am currently taking a digestive enzyme by Innate, and make sure I particularly take it if I am eating a rich or larger meal the supplement. I am also taking Resveratrol, which is the antioxidant polyphenol found in red wine that activates enzymes called sirtuins increasing DNA, promoting cell survival, and maximizing sugar metabolism. I also take a buffered Vitamin C.