A-Z Guide to Eating for Beauty, Youth, and Longevity

Posted on: November 18, 2020

Two things are certain: from birth onward, we age. It’s natural. To stop aging is to stop living. But most of us want to age s-l-o-w-l-y. 

The other thing that’s certain is that to continue bodily life, we must eat. 

Good news on both: By wisely choosing what you eat and drink, you CAN age slowly!

Stress, AGEs & Aging

Stress ages us faster. Unhealthy stressors include mental and emotional worries, electromagnetic (EMF) exposure, and environmental pollution of air, water, and food. 

Aging with grace.

Plus, there’s how we prepare our food…

Longevity research scientists coined the acronym, AGEs,1,2 , meaning “advanced glycation end products.” These are harmful compounds that build up in our bodies over time. Cooking certain foods at high temperatures (especially grilled red meat, browned toast, and fried eggs) creates more AGEs, which accelerate aging. 

We can’t control all external stressors, except by limiting exposure. 

But one thing we can control is our food choices. And some foods help you age gracefully. They can even reverse AGEs!

In this blog, I’ll share how to choose foods as your first line of defense against premature aging, along with some research examples to illustrate why. Then I’ll describe a game you can play with your family to make it fun. And finally, I’ll give you a recipe to start the ball rolling. 

Dedicate yourself to youthfulness at every age

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You Are What You Eat

A friend told me what she learned about beauty while waiting in line at a grocery store. 

“How beautiful your skin is!” the woman behind her in line said, enviously. “What’s your secret? What cleansing, moisturizing, and make-up products do you use?”

My friend laughed apologetically and said, “Actually, I’ve always treated my skin horribly, according to all the ads and experts. I just wash with soap and water and use a simple moisturizer. I’m afraid I don’t have any tips.” 

Later my friend realized that she did have a good anti-aging tip to share. The secret was in their shopping baskets. Her own was full of fresh fruits and vegetables. The other woman’s cart was filled with candy and nutrient-deficient processed food.

The body can’t “build” healthy skin unless it has the best raw materials: antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients (plant nutrients) to build with. 

Health radiates beauty from within. Healthy skin isn’t built from expensive make-up and elaborate chemical concoctions. Beauty from within requires nutrient-dense, phytochemical-rich, fresh, natural fruits and vegetables. 

What we eat is reflected in our skin and overall health. 

Your microbiome3, the complex microbial ecosystem in and on your body that keeps you healthy, loves variety. Varied natural foods and colors provide ideal pre-and probiotics to support your whole body and mind, from your immune system to your mood and energy.

“Eat a Rainbow”

Colors in fruits and vegetables correspond to thousands of nutrients (phytochemicals4), which scientists have labeled with all sorts of hard-to-pronounce names, such as astaxanthin, lycopene, proanthocyanidins, silymarin, and resveratrol, to name a few. Hard to pronounce, but they counteract many diseases associated with aging, including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, cancer, and more.  

Colors in food, variety corresponds to thousands of nutrients.

Even herbal teas and culinary herbs, though used in tiny amounts, provide valuable phytonutrients. They nourish us as they make our food flavorful.  

To simplify, just remember to “eat a rainbow” to get a wide variety of all those beneficial plant nutrients from fruits, vegetables, and herbs. 

Make a family game of it! 

In this game, you gain points for food color and variety. No one needs to know that it’s also an anti-aging strategy.

Game Objective: Eat an A-Z Month 

Challenge your family to eat at least 26 different fruits and vegetables (from A-Z) in a month. 

  • Put an A-Z chart on the refrigerator to track the different foods eaten. 
  • Choose foods that begin with every letter. (Find recipes online for unfamiliar foods.)
  • Use crayons or markers, and make a color dot next to each food. 
  • If you see a pattern of mostly one color, vary your food choices to make a more colorful rainbow. 

Eat organic whenever possible. At the very least, eat the “Dirty Dozen” as organic5. Eating organic produce boosts your health in several ways:

  • Higher nutrition, better flavor. Nutrition levels decrease as soon as a food is picked. Freshness matters. Locally grown, fresh produce, grown with organic and regenerative practices, provides your family with more nutrients.6 Plus, it tastes so much better—try it and you’ll see!
  • Increases fiber, reduces your body’s toxic load, eases the work for your organs of detoxification. Modern, chemical-based farming relies on toxic herbicides and pesticides, and uses only three major minerals: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K). Chemical fertilizers manufactured in a lab simply can’t reproduce the thousands of microorganisms and nutrients in healthy, organic soil. 
  • Supports healthy, regenerative farming, helping our environment by mitigating climate change, air pollution, and soil degradation. We, our food, and the earth itself are all part of an interconnected web of life. 

A-Z Ideas to “Up” Your Food Game

Below is a list of plant-based foods and herbs (culinary and medicinal). Some are linked to anti-aging research, and some just have parentheses, noting something the food provides or a body system it supports. 

Nori, Japanese Seaweed

For example, seaweeds are high in iodine, which supports a healthy thyroid gland. Okinawa, Japan, is one of the Blue Zones7, known for longevity. In Japan, dietary intake of iodine is often 10-20 times higher than here in the West! Japanese longevity champions may have an edge due to the high levels of iodine8 in their traditional diet. 

However, in some cases (Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, for example), iodine must be approached with caution. A functional medicine doctor, such as myself, can guide you. (Seaweeds in the list below have iodine noted.)

Keep in mind, however, that every natural food provides benefits too numerous to list, on multiple levels; never just one thing. Life is much more complex than human-made machinery! I encourage you to learn more about all of these foods. 

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Above all, enjoy.

A: Apples (cancer9, skin10), Aduki beans, Allspice, Almonds, Apricots, Artichokes (liver), Asparagus, Arugula, Avocado, Amaranth, Agar-agar, Alaria (iodine), Arame (iodine), Acorn squash (beta carotene)

B: Beets (liver detox, muscle energy11), Bananas, Barley, Basil, Beans, Bee Pollen, Blueberries (eyes), Brazil nuts (selenium), Broccoli (all cruciferous family vegetables, like broccoli and cabbage, have shown anti-cancer properties12), Brown rice, Brussels sprouts (anti-cancer11), Burdock root (liver), Barley, Buckwheat, Belgian Endive, Butterleaf lettuce, Butternut squash

Chia seed bowl, A-Z guide to anti-aging.

C: Cabbage (anti-cancer11), Carrots (beta carotene, eyes), Cauliflower (anti-cancer11), Cantaloupe, Cardamom (protects against neurodegeneration13), Chives, Cinnamon (lowers blood sugar), Coriander, Cumin, Cilantro (heavy metal detox), Cayenne (circulation), Celery, Chard, Cherries (anti-gout, anti-cancer14), Chia seeds (fiber), Coconut (skin, brain, immune system), Collard greens, Corn, Cucumbers, Chicory, Currents, Carob, Chestnuts, Cashews, Carnival squash, Chamomile tea (relaxation)

D: Daikon (liver), Dandelion (liver), Dill, Dulse (iodine), Delicata squash

E: Echinacea (immune), Eggplant, Elderberries (immune), Endive, Escarole

F: Fennel (digestion), Fenugreek seeds, Figs, Flax seeds (fiber, essential fatty acids), Filberts

G: Garlic (immune), Ginger (circulation, digestion), Grapefruit, Grapes (grape seed and skin studies show promise against cancers of the head and neck15, lungs16, skin17, and against acute lymphoblastic leukemia18), Green beans, Ginseng (anti-aging, energy), Ginkgo biloba (brain), Gooseberries, Green pepper

H: Hawthorn (circulation), Hearts of palm, Herbal teas (huge category), Hijiki (iodine), Honey (raw: trace elements), Horsetail (silica), Hazelnuts, Horseradish (anti-cancer11)

I: Iodine-rich foods, like seafood, Irish moss and other seaweeds

J: Jicama, Jasmine tea, Juices: fresh-pressed from vegetables and fruits (rich in easily absorbable phytochemicals), Juniper berries (blood sugar), Jerusalem artichokes (blood sugar)

K: Kale (anti-cancer11), Kelp (iodine), Kiwi, Kohlrabi (anti-cancer11), Kuzu (soothes GI tract), Kamut, Kombu (iodine)

L: Lavender (relaxation), Lemons (Vitamin C, flavonoids), Limes, Lentils, Lettuce, Licorice root (adrenals), Lichi fruit

M: Mango (IBS19), Marjoram, Melons, Millet, Mint (digestion), Mustard greens (anti-cancer11), Mushrooms (Maitake, Reishi, Shiitake, etc.), Milk thistle seeds (liver detoxifier)

N: Nectarines, Nettles (iron, energy), Nori (iodine)  

Olives pressed into olive oil, a-z guide to anti-aging.

O: Oats, Olives, Olive oil, Oregano (antiseptic), Oranges, Onions 

P: Potato (potato skin: potassium), Parsley (urinary system), Papaya, Prunes, Peanuts, Pecans, Pine nuts, Pistachios (copper, B6), Paprika, Parsnips, Passion fruit, Peppermint, Pau d’arco tea (detox), Peppers, Pimento, Plantain, Plum, Psyllium (fiber), Pumpkin (beta carotene), Pumpkin seeds (magnesium, zinc, prostate health), Persimmon, Pomegranate (protects against post-exhaustive exercise oxidative stress20

Q: Quinoa, Quince

R: Rice (brown or wild), Rye, Romaine lettuce, Rhubarb, Radishes (anti-cancer11), Raisins, Raspberries (lycopene), Rosemary (skin21), Rutabaga, Red pepper

S: Spelt, Sorrel, Swiss chard, Spinach, Sage, Sesame seeds, Sesame oil, Shallots, Sweet potatoes (beta carotene), Skullcap (relaxing), Slippery elm bark (digestion), Spaghetti squash, Siberian ginseng (brain, energy), Sprouts (any whole bean, seed, or grain can be sprouted, which transforms and boosts the flavor, freshness, texture, and nutritional value), Sorghum, Soy, Spearmint (digestion)

T: Triticale, Tapioca, Turnips (anti-cancer11), Turnip greens, Tahini, Tangerines, Thyme (antiseptic), Turmeric (curcumin source, anti-inflammatory, pancreatic cancer22), Tamarind, Taro, Tomatoes (lycopene, eyes, skin) 

U: Umeboshi plum (anti-inflammatory), Uva ursi herb (urinary system)

V: Valerian root (relaxing), Vanilla, Vinegar (raw apple cider type, digestion)

W: Wheat, Watercress (anti-cancer11), Wheatgrass juice (detox), Walnuts (brain, vitamin E), Wakame (iodine), Winter squash, White willow bark (anti-inflammatory), Watermelon (lycopene) 

X: Xylitol (dental health)

Y: Yellow crookneck summer squash, yams (beta carotene)

Z: Zucchini 

And this list doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the benefits of fresh natural foods! 

But it’s not only about what you eat. What you drink is important, too.

Hydration is Anti-Aging

Stress ages us, but so do toxins. Water helps you detox.  

Skin, the body’s largest organ of elimination, relies on water to detoxify via perspiration.   

Staying hydrated

Dehydrated skin has poor elasticity and wrinkles easily. (Think of a plump grape versus a wrinkled raisin.)

Individual needs for proper hydration vary, but a general guideline is to drink half your body weight in ounces per day (ex. 150 lb. / 2 = 75 oz. / 8 oz. = about 9 cups of water per day). Sip, rather than chug, for best absorption. Beverages with a high amount of water can count toward some, but not all of your pure water needs. Beware of coffee, carbonated, and caffeinated drinks, which can deplete your hydration and work against your anti-aging goal. 

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Helpful Hydrating Tips 

  • Drink a different type of non-caffeinated herbal tea daily. To make a quart, steep a four-cup concentrate (4 tsp. or 4 teabags) in one cup boiling water, then add 3 more cups of cold water for iced tea to drink throughout the day. 
  • The herb rosemary helps your skin. Add ½ teaspoon of rosemary to a cup of water and boil a few minutes. Use the rosemary tea to steep your daily herbal tea. 
  • Drink nutrient-rich juices from apples (skin-protective), cherries (anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, anthocyanins), pomegranates (antioxidant energy), carrots, beets (mix carrot and beet juices for power-packed deliciousness), and grapes (anti-aging resveratrol). 
    • If the “straight” juices are too sweet for your blood sugar balance, use small amounts of healthy juices to color and sweeten your tea. (Perhaps ¼ cup juice to ¾ cup tea; or 1 cup juice to 3 cups of tea for a quart of tea + juice.)
  • Infuse cold water with cucumber slices, a sprig of anti-aging rosemary, and a squeeze of lime (flavonoids). 
  • Try spiced “golden milk,” simmered with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, nutmeg, and fennel. Explore different recipes to find your perfect blend. All of these spices are loaded with healthy anti-aging benefits.

A-B-C Rainbow Salad

Make a colorful, organic (for best flavor), “rainbow salad” with raw apples, beets, and carrots. Finely shred equal portions of fresh, raw beets and carrots (both first scrubbed and peeled). Toss with equal amounts of olive oil and raw apple cider vinegar, and add healthy sea salt to taste. Just before serving, sprinkle top of salad with chopped apple, dried cranberries, and walnuts. Or, substitute roasted, salted, shelled pistachios for the walnuts. Yummy, healthy, and colorful! 

Consume a rainbow of fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices, juices, and water to find something even better than the mythical “pot of gold.” Glowing, vibrant, youthful health.

Continue Your Journey

If you or someone you know wants further anti-aging guidance, I use many strategies in my practice to slow the aging process and help patients feel better than ever. 

Book an appointment here. 

In summary, make eating healthy food fun for your family. It will provide a lifetime of benefits, from the youngest to the youngest-at-heart, seeking anti-aging tips. 

There is no better anti-aging strategy than to feed your body what it needs to heal and repair. 

Love your body. Give it the very best. 

Eat delicious, natural and organic anti-aging foods to feel and look great!

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