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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

Wonder ways to slow down ageing

Kavita Wadhwa, Hindustantimes.com  New Delhi, January 30, 2013
First Published: 16:50 IST(30/1/2013) | Last Updated: 12:22 IST(31/1/2013)

Ageing is inevitable, but with small changes in your diet and lifestyle, you can certainly control the pace

Eat a balanced diet with lots of fresh, raw, dark-coloured fruits and veggies. Of all the molecules capable of inflicting damage in our body, probably the most damaging are sugar molecules. Therefore, limit your intake of sugary treats.

To avoid ingesting preformed AGEs, turn down heat when you cook because the browning effect of high-heat cooking leads to glycation. 
Antioxidants combat free radicals. Good sources include pomegranate, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, mulberries, cherries, grapes (black) and peanuts.

Even though a few very potent antioxidants are also found in red wine, it won’t be wise to drink wine in hopes of extending life because alcohol can poison your brain and also harm your body’s delicate hormonal balance.

While a sufficient amount of fat must be consumed to meet the requirement of essential fatty acids, its upper limit must be taken care of. A normal healthy adult with a sedentary lifestyle needs no more than 15gm to 18gm of visible fat in a day.

Choosing foods that contain unsaturated fats as opposed to the saturated ones is important. Balance of omega-6s to omega-3s is crucial. Found in fish body oil, walnuts, and in oils of flaxseed and soy bean, omega-3s have numerous benefits as regards to your cardiac health.

Avoid full cream milk and choose only lean cuts of animal food. Eat a few nuts everyday. Try to have mustard and fenugreek once in a while.

Green tea, apart from being a good source of very potent antioxidants, has been proven to significantly interfere with the glycation process too. Other great anti- aging foods include turmeric and dark chocolate. They are both anti-inflammatory.

Stress promotes inflammation in the body and can lead to premature aging. Besides learning to effectively cope with uncalled for stress, getting enough sleep every night is important. Relaxation techniques like meditation helps.

Regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise can slow down the onset of the aging process. Although a lifetime of regular exercise is ideal, it’s never too late to start. It’s been shown that individuals, even in their 70s can substantially increase both strength and endurance with exercise.

Avoid pharmaceutical drugs till the time it is possible. They can have drastic side effects. Adhere to a healthy lifestyle, so that you are less likely to need drugs in the first place.

As we age, we begin to self destruct slowly. This happens mainly due to the presence of free radicals in our body that are produced as by-product of our metabolism. These radicals damage the DNA of our cells and cause degeneration. Another major molecular mechanism whereby damage accrues is Glycation. Glycation is what happens when sugar mixes with proteins and fats to form advance glycation end products (AGEs). Presence of AGEs in the body causes protein fibres to become stiff and malformed. Tissue damage caused results in inflammation, which leads to debilitating conditions such as cataracts, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and arteriosclerosis.

Free radicals and AGEs are produced continually in the body and their effect keeps building up gradually over the course of a lifetime. Ageing and death are thus inevitable but the extent of damage that these processes can cause can be controlled. Lifestyle choices have their role to play. Smoking, consuming processed food laden with trans fats and sugars, doing insufficient exercise and exposure to chemicals add to body’s free radical burden as they also accelerate inflammation caused by AGEs. By being careful in avoiding such practices and adopting a healthy lifestyle, we can indeed slow down our aging process and substantially decrease both pain and agony of facing problems that come with old age.
 
Kavita Wadhwa is a nutrition and health expert

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