Is there a way to reverse ageing and all the signs that show up with old age?
When people get lost in the allure of trying to prevent ageing from the outside through cosmetics and skincare routines, they often forget that what’s happening on the inside counts as well. Diet, exercise and hydration are the quintessential elements for keeping us healthy from within.
Constant passage of time in a fast-paced world, coupled with a stressful lifestyle consisting of a plethora of unhealthy habits is bound to increase the process of ageing exponentially. This further opens the much dreaded pandora’s box to put us at a higher risk of degenerative diseases. Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart diseases, diabetes, dementia and high blood pressure are just a few ailments whose risk factors increase as we age.
Today, we’ll look at how adopting a plant-based diet can help us fight and eventually win the everlasting battle against our common enemy, ageing.
What causes ageing?
The primary cause for ageing is shortening telomeres. Telomeres are the protective caps at the end of each of the 46 chromosomes in a cell. As ageing progresses, these telomeres become shorter and eventually expire, which leads to the death of the cell.
Consequently, telomeres are considered as the first and foremost indicators of health and longevity. The more telomere activity you have, the younger your body appears to be. On the other hand, signs of ageing are more apparent if there is more damage to telomeres. To put it into perspective, scientists can determine your biological age just from your telomere length.
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Can we slow down ageing with plant-based foods?
Fortunately, it is possible to slow physical ageing by keeping our telomeres intact and that’s exactly what happens with the consumption of plant-based foods. A diet rich in plant foods may prevent, decrease, or even reverse the risk posed by ageing and the diseases that accompany ageing.
In a groundbreaking study conducted by Dr. Dean Ornish and scientist Elizabeth Blackburn, findings showed that eating a plant-based diet boosted telomerase activity, the enzyme responsible for keeping telomeres long.
A follow-up study was conducted that showed telomere length had elongated within the plant-based diet group as opposed to the control group. Interestingly enough, an additional study linked diets rich in carotenoids, the organic pigments found in many fruits and vegetables, to longer telomeres.
Moreover, this is not the only way in which plant-based foods fight ageing.
How plant-based diets contribute to reverse ageing
A plant-based diet aids in weight loss, improves inflammation as well as vascular and cardiovascular health. Furthermore, it prevents disease progression.
Diets rich in plant-based foods which are low in saturated fat and high in fiber can potentially even reverse the risks of cardiovascular diseases and cholesterol levels.
Phytochemicals are non-nutritive chemicals present in plants and they consist of disease-preventive properties. Even though plants produce these chemicals to protect themselves, recent research demonstrates that they can also protect humans against diseases.
Except for some refined foods like sugar and alcohol, a majority of the foods contain Phytochemicals and most of them are already a part of our daily diet. The easiest way to get more phytochemicals is to eat more fruits and vegetables, such as blueberries, cranberries, cherries, cauliflower, cabbage, carrots etc. This helps us reverse ageing and keep ourselves in a fitter condition.
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People who eat plant-based diets tend to live longer. Studies conducted by Dan Buettner were conclusive in discovering 5 hotspots on Earth. In these places, people live the longest and are the healthiest. These hotspots/blue zones are:
- Okinawa, Japan
- Sardinia, Italy
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
- Ikaria, Greece
- Loma Linda, California
For instance, people residing in Loma Linda, California live up to 10 years longer than other people in California; and Okinawa, Japan is well known for having one of the highest life-expectancy rates in the world.
People in Blue Zones usually follow a plant-based diet, don’t smoke and engage in moderate exercise on a regular basis.
In addition to living longer, people who eat a plant-based diet may also remain cognitively healthy for longer.
Should I switch to a plant-based diet to reverse ageing?
Research has shown that a plant-based diet may be a step in the right direction. Especially for those looking to overcome the signs of ageing or aiming to age in a healthy manner. Of course, larger and more clinically robust studies will give us deeper insights. However, eating a nutritious diet consisting of the beneficial and cancer-combative compounds found in plants is immensely helpful. It keeps your body in optimal condition for years to come.
The priority, in this blog, is to supply the reader with clear and unambiguous information. However, neither The New Me nor Gagan Dhawan makes promises, or guarantees regarding the completeness of the information found here. The content is not a replacement for advice of a licensed professional. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the writer’s.