No matter what anti-aging diet you decide to follow, it should be made up of the three basics. These basics are carbohydrates, fats and protein. Some would argue for a fourth group – alcohol – but we will discuss that separately later. These three groups of macro nutrients are necessary for any type of diet (meaning however you eat, in this case, not a specific diet plan) that you follow. Within each group are bad foods for anti-aging, good anti-aging foods and excellent ones. These last can be so good for the benefits they can give as to be called anti-aging super foods.
So just what are each of these groups made of? How do these macro nutrients affect our well-being?
Essentially, since we are talking food and not getting into the details of organic chemistry, you can divide carbohydrates, or carbs, into two categories. You have simple carbs and complex carbs.
The best way to think about it is that simple carbs turn into sugar in your body muy pronto which can cause all kinds of nasty things to happen which will age your body. The opposite of what we are looking for in anti-aging foods.
A quick way to decide if a food is a simple carb is to decide if it is “white” or not. That means stay away from sugar, rice, bread, flour, potatoes, cereal, cake, cookies, and candy and so on. A bit longer way is to search out the glycemic load for the food you want to eat. Not glycemic index, but “load”. The glycemic load takes into account the normal serving size of a carbohydrate. You want to eat foods that have low glycemic load scores.
Remember that for most of our evolution, we didn’t eat processed foods, much less breads, cereal, cakes and candy or drink soft drinks. In fact, these didn’t come along until after agriculture began only a few thousand years ago, even more recently for some peoples in less recently developed parts of the world. While you could buy different food products in your local area over the last few thousand years, the mass distribution that we know today of such bad-for-you foods really only came about last century.
It’s best to stay away from simple carbs especially if you are overweight/obese and may have an “intractable weight problem” or suffer from diabetes 2 or metabolic syndrome. Simple carbs will spike your insulin and lead to insulin resistance. A big no-no.
However, if you must, try to enjoy your desserts only on special limited occasions like a birthday or Christmas. This writer is one of those that must, at least once during Christmas holidays.
Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, take longer to turn into glucose, or straight sugar, in the body. Mostly this is due to the amount of fiber within the complex carb. Fiber is good in an anti-aging sense as it helps remove toxins from the body even if we cannot digest it. Another article will be written on fiber and its anti-aging benefits.
What kind of foods make up complex carbohydrates? These are vegetables, whole grains, fruits, nuts, and legumes (beans).
Depending upon what diet you follow will determine what amount of complex carbs you want to include. For instance, a Mediterranean style diet will contain 45 to 50% carbs while the Okinawan Diet will be 58%. If you follow a Paleo style diet it will be less and will contain little to no whole grains or legumes.
Quite frankly, what percentage of carbs you allow into your anti-aging diet will depend upon your own health (do you have celiac disease?), your personal beliefs (are you vegetarian because you don’t believe in killing animals – overlap between carbs and proteins), how much research you have done (there is more to learn every day) and what you plain just like to eat.
It is necessary for you to eat protein. Protein is made up of amino acids. Our bodies require 22 different amino acids. We can synthesize all but 8 of these which mean you have to find another way of getting these 8 essential amino acids into your body. That way is by what you ingest.
Basically, there are two groups of protein. One comes to us by animals, either something they give like milk or eggs or by eating the flesh. The other group of proteins comes from plants.
Whether you choose to pursue a totally vegetarian or vegan anti-aging diet or you want to remain a meat eater, you need to be sure you are getting those eight essential amino acids though out the day. They don’t all have to be consumed at one meal but they must be consumed during the day. However, if you are a vegetarian and especially a vegan, you will find yourself eating a LOT of food to get the right amount of protein you need. Animal proteins are the only ones which contain all eight of the essential amino acids required. Now, animal protein, namely red meat, has gotten a bad rap in the media. Although not all scientists are convinced by supposed studies that link red meat with lots of saturated fat to heart disease and stroke (they say the studies were badly done), the fact is the media has jumped all over this idea and it is part of our assumptions and beliefs now.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors did eat meat and we are still like them from an evolutionary standpoint. They thrived and there are those who believe they were capable of reaching ages we are not today (if one discounts the very risky lives they led).