Look THREE YEARS younger in just eight weeks with this plan which reverses the signs of ageing

ARE you feeling your age, or even older?

What if you were told that by eating the right foods you could not only keep looking young, but reverse the ageing clock by three years in just eight weeks?

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It sounds far-fetched, yet scientists have now shown it is possible to reverse the ageing process through dietary changes. Dr Kara Fitzgerald is the lead author of a groundbreaking paper published in the journal Aging.

She found that a diet rich in leafy greens, cruciferous veg such as cabbage and sprouts, and berries dramatically reduced the biological age of a group of middle-aged people taking part in the study.

It is welcome news for those who feel as though they have aged five years in the past 12 months, even more so because the diet involves everyday foods.

Dr Fitzgerald is a researcher in nutritional biochemistry at the Institute for Functional Medicine in Washington.

She says: “Ours is the first and only randomised, controlled and peer-reviewed clinical trial to show that diet and lifestyle changes can bring immediate and rapid reduction in biological age.”

In the study participants followed a largely plant-based diet, low in sugar and salt, containing no processed foods or alcohol, for eight weeks.

Afterwards, a special tool called the Horvath DNAm age clock was used to re-measure the biological age of participants and found that they had reversed their biological age by 3.23 years.

PETA BEE looks at Dr Fitzgerald’s explanations of why these super foods really can turn back the clock.

DARK LEAFY GREENS KEEP BRAIN SHARP

Eat two 65g servings every day. Dr Fitzgerald says: “Kale, Swiss chard and spinach are all excellent as they contain lots of folate and other nutrients.”

A study has also indicated that a daily serving of leafy greens is significantly associated with lower rates of age-associated cognitive decline.

Salad greens such as romaine, iceberg and other lettuce were excluded from the trial because they lacked the nutrient density of the darker leafy greens.

ANTIOXIDANTS IN MUSHROOMS

“Mushrooms of all varieties, including button, shitake, cordyceps, porcini and oyster mushrooms, are what I call ‘rockstar methyl donors’, meaning they contain valuable nutrients when it comes to preventing biological ageing,” says Dr Fitzgerald.

“We absolutely love them for their nutrient density.”

Another study from the Pennsylvania State University College of Medicine in the US has shown that mushrooms usually contain high amounts of anti-oxidants that could help to fight the signs of ageing.

TURMERIC TO BOOST THE BODY

Curcumin, the active component of the spice turmeric, is “one of the compounds or nutrients that helps the body in terms of reversing ageing”, says Dr Fitzgerald.

Add half a teaspoon to salad dressings or to curries and stir fries — mixing turmeric with black pepper and some oils can increase absorption by 2,000 per cent, she adds. Or take a supplement.

GREEN TEA TO IMPROVE CELL HEALTH

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Drink green tea to get a dose of anti-ageing nutrients[/caption]

Drink two daily cups of green tea or three cups of oolong, each brewed for ten minutes so that the essential compounds are released, to get another dose of anti-ageing nutrients.

“Basically, they help to reverse ageing in a smart way by improving cell health,” says Dr Fitzgerald.

TOMATOES TO PREVENT SKIN AGEING

“Tomatoes are a rich source of lutein, an antioxidant carotenoid that has a profound effect on our biological age,” Dr Fitzgerald reveals.

Peppers and grapes are other good plant sources of lutein. Tomatoes also provide the antioxidant compound lycopene, which makes them red, and is associated with preventing skin ageing.

ROSEMARY BALANCES GENES

Add rosemary to meals whenever you can — the participants in the study were advised to add half a teaspoon to dishes daily.

“Rosmarinic acid is the star component of rosemary,” says Dr Fitzgerald.

“Use the herb to season fish, chicken or vegetables as there is plenty of science to show that even small amounts have gene-balancing benefits.”

GARLIC FOR A HEALTHY GUT

Another important component of the anti-ageing diet is the phytonutrient allicin found in garlic. Dr Fitzgerald says: “Two medium cloves provide a good dose. But use it as often as you can.”

Garlic, onions and leeks are also important prebiotic foods, helping to create the environment needed for a healthy gut.

“A healthy gut will make nutrients essential for reversing biological ageing more available to the body,” she says.

APPLES REVERSE AGEING

Apples are an excellent source of anti-ageing nutrients.

“They are a brilliant addition to the diet and, if you eat them with the skin on, are a great supplier of quercetin and other polyphenols that help to regulate our genetic expression and reverse ageing,” says Dr Fitzgerald.

Fruits with similar benefits include avocados clementines, elderberries, pomegranates and tangerines.

EGGS FOR CELL MAINTENANCE

“Eggs are arguably the best dietary source of choline, and it’s really hard for the body to make, so getting it in the diet is essential for keeping your cells and DNA functioning well,” Dr Fitzgerald says. “If you like eggs, get your choline by eating five to ten of them a week.”

She adds that choline supports cell maintenance and is used to make healthy cellular membranes.

BERRIES TO PREVENT METABOLIC DAMAGE

Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries — or any berry — are good, so eat at least a handful every day. Dr Fitzgerald says: “They are extraordinarily good in terms of the nutrients and plant compounds they provide.”

Berries are a rich source of anthocyanins, antioxidants that give them their red and purple colour, which have been shown to help prevent age-related metabolic damage.

BROCCOLI TO PREVENT SOME CANCERS

“Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, as well as bok choy, contain sulforaphane, a sulphur-rich compound with potent health benefits,” says Dr Fitzgerald.

“Cruciferous vegetables also contain compounds called glucosinolates that can reduce inflammation and prevent some forms of cancer.” Radishes, turnips and watercress fall into this healthy food category as well.

SUPER SEEDS FOR GOOD HEALTH

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Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are all rich in important health-reversing nutrients[/caption]

Most nuts and seeds are helpful, but three are particularly beneficial.

“Pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds are all rich in important health-reversing nutrients, including omega-3 fats, B vitamins and antioxidants,” says Dr Fitzgerald.

For the trial, she recommended eating four tablespoons of seeds (or two to three teaspoons of seed butter).

AVOID BOOZE, SUGAR AND PROCESSED FOODS

Although an occasional glass of red wine is “generally fine as it is packed with antioxidant resveratrol”, Dr Fitzgerald does not advise drinking alcohol — certainly not more than the recommended 14 units a week.

“Salty and sugary foods and sweets should be avoided, as should all refined and processed foods,” she adds.

“There is growing evidence in particular that raised blood-sugar levels from a diet high in sugar and processed foods affects processes that can accelerate biological ageing.”

In the trial, she recommended participants avoided dairy, and that grains, beans and pulses should be limited to small amounts in day-to-day life.
Try not to eat outside a 7am to 7pm window, which will also help to stabilise blood sugar.

BEETROOT FOR HEALTHY BLOOD VESSELS

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Beetroot contains minerals important for health, such as potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and manganese[/caption]

“Participants in the trial were asked to eat a beetroot every day if they could,” Dr Fitzgerald says. “Add beet to salads and don’t forget to use the beetroot leaves, which are also nutrient-rich.”

Beetroot contains minerals important for health, such as potassium, sodium, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc and manganese.

It is also a rich source of inorganic nitrates, converted in the body to nitric oxide, which has been shown to regulate our blood vessel and brain health.
Dr Fitzgerald recommends three 75g servings a week, if you can stand it. She calls it “a food-based multi-vitamin”.

She adds: “It is rich in methionine, an amino acid essential for healthy biological ageing. But it is rich in vitamin B12, folate and choline too, so is an absolutely fantastic addition if you are a meat eater.”

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