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    Ask the Chef: What is an anti-aging diet?

    By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef | June 13, 2016

    What exactly is an anti-aging diet, and what foods should I include?

    We've heard a lot about anti-aging diets these days - in fact, it seems to be a go-to qualifier in many new products and up-and-coming dietary plans. While some claims may be over-exaggerated (no food is going to 100% turn back time), there's a lot to be said for eating foods that can support a body functioning at its best. In my opinion, this is the true role of an anti-aging diet - one which optimizes the body from the inside out, both delaying signs of aging, as well as inducing the natural glow and feeling of health. Because let's face it: an abundantly vigorous individual often seems absolutely ageless. And isn't that what we all strive for?

    There's many factors in slowing aging - which is equal parts response to your current state of health, alongside preventative measures -- but most agree that living an overall balanced life is key. The benefits of this pursuit include better skin tone with fewer wrinkles, leaner body mass, enhanced memory, a strong cardiovascular system, flexibility and more. Here are some of the dietary factors that can affect your aging the most positively:

    Nutrient Density

    It's long been noted that eating moderate amounts of calories - as opposed to overconsumption - can dramatically lengthen lifespan. Since we need less calories as we age, this adjustment can often become a challenging factor for many people (for example that ice cream binge from the weekend suddenly takes noticeably larger toll). The concept of eating nutrient-dense foods - foods that have relatively high amounts of micronutrients per calorie - becomes increasingly important. These foods will help satisfy nutritional needs quickly and efficiently, reducing cravings, and keeping calories at a minimum … virtually removing all sense of “dieting†or denial. Superfoods, by definition, are the most nutrient-dense options within the edible kingdom, so it makes sense that filling up on these types of foods as much as possible is a life-lengthening activity, with many additional benefits too. Some great examples of nutrient-density at its finest include foods like leafy greens, chia seeds, and goji berries.

    Do not dismiss the power of healthy digestion and the role of enzymes in keeping us young! “The actual length of life is tied to the increased use of food enzymes because they decrease the rate of your body's enzyme exhaustion,†says Dr. Edward Howell, a founder of enzyme therapy. While we extinguish enzymes daily through normal body functioning, as we age we are able to produce them at a drastically reduced rate, allowing for higher levels of free radical activity and illness to take shape within the body. Eating foods that are rich in enzymes helps maintain higher levels overall, while reducing the stress on the pancreas for its role in continual enzyme production. Raw foods are particularly high in enzyme activity, as are cultured foods like fermented vegetables, tempeh, keifer, and digestion-friendly yacon.

    This wouldn't b an anti-aging conversation without talking about antioxidants! Oxidation within the body occurs naturally through the process of being a living, breathing organism, but it is strongly increased through detrimental lifestyle factors, like a poor diet, smoking, and reoccurring high stress. This oxidation manifests in the form of free radicals - malignant cells that are the catalyst of physical signs of aging externally, and more serious diseases internally.

    Antioxidants, a collection of unique compounds found in plants, help to combat these free radicals - “fighting†them both through preventing their production, as well as encouraging their removal. As you can imagine, antioxidants are profoundly important for anti-aging, and their most concentrated sources will most definitely be superfoods. Berries are known to be some of the best sources of antioxidants, and varieties like camu, goji, acai, mulberries, goldenberries, and maqui all top the list of “most powerful.†Other antioxidant-rich foods include ingredients like cacao for its flavonols, wheatgrass and greens for their chlorophyll, and glucosinolates in cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. It's important to note there are thousands of varieties of antioxidants, each with slightly different roles, which is yet another reason to enjoy a diverse diet filled with many types of delicious natural foods.

    Age is nothing to be feared, and the number of times we've gone around the sun has very little to do with how we look and feel. Taking care of ourselves in the best way possible is the proactive approach to a great quality of life, and superfoods truly are some of our finest tools.