After a long day at work, do you ever go home and look in the mirror to find stress lines on your forehead, or between your eyebrows? Have you noticed a few more gray hairs starting to come in? Stress and bad lifestyle habits can certainly age us more quickly. They are not only hard on our minds, but our bodies as well.
As physicians, we often live very busy lives that involve balancing our colleague relationships, caring for our patients and spending quality time with our families. This can leave us feeling drained, old and creaky! How do we put the oil back in our joints and stay energized? As physicians, we already know a large part of health comes down to the quality of foods we put into our bodies.
When heading to the grocery store, or better yet the farmer’s market, keep this list in mind. This collection of fruits and vegetables are known to have outstanding healing benefits. From beta carotene, to sulphurane, the chemical compounds help stop free radicals and boost the immune system. As physicians, health is a priority for us and these food choices can help us maintain ours. Let’s slow down the clock a bit with these tasty choices that offer anti-aging and disease preventing properties.
As we know, beta-carotene is a powerful healing component which is proven to prevent night blindness and promote overall healthy vision. In addition, beta carotene is responsible for slowing down the premature aging within cells. Just what we are looking for! The selenium in carrots will help protect the cells from the sun’s UV rays. It has been shown to help reduce a wide range of cancers including bladder, prostate, intestinal, stomach, lung, mouth and throat. Falcarinol is also found in carrots, and has been shown by Danish researchers at the Danish Institute of Agricultural Sciences to cause cancer cells to grow more slowly. Of course, some studies show that too many carrots may actually cause cancer, but we’d have to be eating 2 – 3 kilograms of carrots daily for that to happen. Not likely.
2. Chili Peppers & Jalapeños
The Capsaicin compound in chili peppers, known to be a potent anti-inflammatory, will help to decrease any inflammation in your muscles and joints, so is great for arthritis. If you are experiencing any tension or tightness, it may be a good idea to cut up some fresh spicy salsa. It is also thought to neutralize certain cancer causing substances (nitrosamines) and may help prevent cancers.
3. Sweet Potatoes
While technically sweet potatoes are a legume, their properties are worth mentioning. Like carrots, sweet potatoes are also high in beta carotene. Beta carotene also helps to protect the DNA inside of a cell’s nucleus from cancer properties outside of the cell membrane. This same protection that beta carotene provides to the DNA, will help minimize cellular damage that causes pesky premature aging in cells.
Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and even boysenberries are sources of many vitamins, minerals and plant compounds that prevent disease, aging, and fight free radicals. Anthocyanins is a great antioxidant that may protect against cancer. According to the Journal of Nutrition and Cancer in May 2002, black raspberries may fight both esophageal and colon cancers. However, in the choice between cancer fighting black raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries, black raspberries are thought to hold the most cancer fighting properties.
The high concentration of vitamin C in papaya uses its powerful anti-oxidant power to help prevent cellular aging and fight free radicals. Papaya’s enzyme papain is a great help in the digestive system. Papaya (also known as “paw paw” in some regions) also contains folacin (folic acid), shown to minimize cervical dysplasia leading to cervical cancer. Folacin, as earlier mentioned, also helps prevent mutation in the cells by supporting normal DNA replication in the nucleus.
Lycopene, the carotenoid in tomatoes, offers antioxidant properties that attack free radicals in the body. Lycopene can be found in tomatoes, watermelons and grapefruit and gives them their vibrant color which carries the cancer-fighting properties. High levels are not only associated with low prostate specific antigen levels, but are thought to lower the cancer risk for stomach, lung and breast cancer.
Avocados are rich in glutathione, the powerful antioxidant that attacks and removes cell damaging free radicals from the body. As antioxidants are key in preventing and fighting cancer, they also slow the aging process. Avocados are also another source of beta carotene which as we already know, protects against premature aging. Avocados are high in vitamin E, which helps to maintain the integrity of the cell membranes and body tissues.
The fun fruit fig is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium. These particular vitamins and minerals are thought to curtail the appetite and improve weight loss efforts. Fig juice has shown to be a potent anti-bacterial in some test tube studies. There is anecdotal research from Tokyo that also suggests that the chemical derivative of benzaldehyde, contained in figs, may be highly effective in shrinking tumors.
Grapefruits are a powerful source of vitamin C, beta-carotene, and folic acid. As we know, Vitamin C is a well-known anti-oxidant and immune booster, and beta-carotene helps prevent premature aging. Folic acid works to maintain the integrity of the DNA within the nucleus of our cells. All of these are very important in maintaining youth and preventing disease. Grapefruits, like other citrus fruits, contain a compound called monoterpenes. This compound is believed to help prevent cancer by sweeping the cancer causing agents out of the body. Some studies even show that grapefruit may inhibit the growth and multiplication of breast cancer cells.
10. Red Grapes
Red grapes contain bioflavonoids and antioxidants that work against cellular aging and help prevent cancer. They are a source of resveratrol, thought to inhibit enzymes that can stimulate cancer cell growth and suppress the immune response that keeps the cells in check. Ellagic acid, the compound that blocks the enzymes needed by cancer cells to proliferate, is thought to slow and even stop the growth of tumors.
11. Green Vegetables
The green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, and kale contain numerous vitamins and minerals including selenium which fights free radicals and also protects against the sun’s damaging UV rays. Kale promotes the production of red blood cells, and lowers blood pressure. Broccoli and kale contain sulphurane, which has been shown to activate certain enzymes that deactivate free radicals and carcinogens in certain cancers like colon and rectal.
Dark chocolate is a wonderful anti-aging food that lowers blood pressure, LDL (or bad) cholesterol, and promotes good feelings through the release of endorphins and tryptans. Chocolate contains flavonoids which are powerful anti-oxidants that help fight free radicals. In addition, the flavonoids in dark chocolate protect the body from the sun’s damaging UV rays. So a square or two of 70% or greater dark chocolate can be supplemented as a daily treat. However, remember to enjoy it in moderation. This one is easy to get carried away with.
The omega 3’s in fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, are essential for keeping the cells young, boosting the immune system and maintaining cognitive function. The omegas promote healthy cardiac function by lowering cholesterol levels, and also decreasing inflammation. The fatty acids are essential in maintaining the integrity of the neurons (brain cells) which promote cognitive longevity.
While technically not a food, water is one of the most important food sources to maintain proper cell integrity and function in all of the organs. As our bodies are greater than 90% water, it is only natural that it would be the most important anti-aging nutrient to take in on a daily basis. Adequate hydration keeps our skin soft and elastic, and helps the organs and cells function like the well-oiled machine it is meant to be. It keeps our joints, tendons and ligaments lubricated, and our kidneys properly filtering out toxins. We should make time to consume the optimal amount of water which equals 1/2 of our body weight in ounces. We know that nutritious foods are needed in order for us to be at our best, and some foods offer more potent benefits than others. Keep this list on hand to incorporate some of the most powerful anti-aging, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory foods into your weekly diet plan. Medicine has never tasted this good!
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