Diet and Aging: Eat well to live long

Diet and Aging: Eat well to live long

According to recent estimates, children born in the early twenty-first century have a life expectancy of about one hundred years.

The aging of the Italian and global population is there for all to see; thanks to scientific progress and an overall improvement in the quality of life, we are witnessing a constant increase in the average age of individuals.

Aging actively and in self-sufficiency therefore represents the fundamental premise for enjoying this long period of life in serenity.

Like any important goal, including that of curbing the negative effects associated with the passage of time, it must be pursued with the right amount of commitment and determination.

A few simple precautions, to be taken from childhood, can help us face old age with serenity and vigor.


Importance of healthy weight

On the tables of industrialized countries, food has never been so abundant as in recent decades. Despite this, the qualitative aspect of food is often insufficient to maintain the optimal efficiency of the precious human machine. It is in fact a high-calorie food, not very satiating and poor in nutritional principles such as mineral salts and vitamins .

This paradox is at the root of the growing obesity rate , a serious problem that is spreading in a frightening and worrying way.

One of the fundamental prerequisites for lengthening and improving one’s life is to maintain one’s body weight within the norm. This trick, not always easy to adopt, is able to prevent, by itself, a very long list of pathologies. Furthermore, according to studies conducted successfully on many laboratory animals, an overall reduction in caloric intake would seem to be one of the best ways to maintain the state of psychophysical efficiency that characterizes youth.

Without reaching malnutrition , which is an aggravating factor in the aging process, it is important to cover the needs of all essential nutrients ( proteins , fats and carbohydrates but also, and above all, vitamins and minerals ) without exaggerating with calories .



In terms of quality, the nutrients that are most frequently in short supply in the Western diet are minerals such as calcium , iron and zinc , and some vitamins (A, E, D, folate, B1, B2 and C). It is therefore essential to guarantee a correct intake of foods rich in vitamins and minerals such as fruit, vegetables, good fats ( vegetable oils with the exception of tropical ones) and wholemeal foods . Some vitamins and in particular E, or tocopherol , have demonstrated very strong antioxidant properties capable of mitigating the impact of aging by themselves

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In the article ” vitamin supplements ” we have shown that it is not always easy to cover the needs of these nutrients and that, in some circumstances, specific supplementation is necessary. A good supply of calcium and vitamin D is also important for preventing osteoporosis .


Antioxidants, Diet and Sport

To defend itself against free radicals, our body combines antioxidants deriving from the diet with very effective endogenous systems. A relationship has been demonstrated between the efficiency of these mechanisms and the life span of many animal species. The best way to increase the power of these endogenous antioxidant systems is regular physical activity. This healthy habit explains why exercise makes people who exercise regularly look more beautiful and younger. Sport also helps build a winning mentality and improve the mind-body relationship. The psychological crises caused by the inability to react strongly to some unpleasant life events contribute to accelerating the physical decay of the organism.

Sport is also the best way to establish a positive hormonal framework in a completely natural way.

There are several theories, very popular in the States and recently also in our country, which paint hormone replacement therapy as the best way to win the fight against premature aging.

The production and secretion of the hormones on which this therapy is based ( GH , testosterone and its precursor DHEA), is in fact clearly higher in subjects who practice an active life and keep their weight within the norm.


Diabetes and Cholesterol

One of the most dangerous allies of aging is hyperglycemia , a condition typically associated with diabetes . We know that in most cases there is a genetic predisposition to the disease and that this is heavily influenced by the person’s lifestyle (a diet too rich in sugar and reduced physical activity).

The fibers contained in fruit, vegetables and wholemeal foods have a long list of beneficial factors including: stabilizing effect on blood sugar , increased satiety, cholesterol-lowering action , prevention of overweight and obesity , improvement of the functionality of the gastrointestinal tract and reduction the incidence of some cancers.

Tumors Dietary risk factors
Esophageal cancer Abuse of wine , beer and above all spirits ;
lack of vitamin C , Iron, Zinc (scarcity of fresh fruit and vegetables ); Nitrites and nitrates from preserved meats; frequent consumption of very hot food
Stomach cancer Nitrates and above all the nitrites contained in sausages , dried and smoked foods ; see the dedicated article: nitrites and nitrates
Colon -Rectum cancer Excessive consumption of preserved meats, red meat , trans and hydrogenated fats , very salty foods; calcium supplements (relationship not certain) and/or dietary fiber deficiency
Prostate cancer High consumption of red meat, low consumption of vegetable fibers and legumes ( soy ), high consumption of dairy products
Breast cancer High consumption of alcohol and animal fats, low consumption of vegetable fibers and legumes (soy)
Liver cancer Abuse of alcohol and consumption of foods contaminated with toxins (e.g. some types of mushrooms or cereals contaminated with aflatoxins )
Pancreatic cancer Excess of alcohol, Excessive consumption of red meat


Water and Hydration

In the elderly, but also in many adults and very young people, dehydration is an often underestimated problem.

The decrease in the thirst stimulus linked to aging, associated with a diet that too often replaces water with alcohol and sugary drinks , is responsible for a reduction in protein synthesis and an increase in adipose tissue. This deterioration in body composition opens the door to obesity and decreases physical and mental efficiency.

We should therefore make an effort to sip water throughout the day, even in the absence of thirst.



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