In his book Forever Young, dermatologist Dr Nicholas Perricone discusses “nutrigenomics” – a field of study on how nutrition can affect the way genes work and impact health. He posits that certain foods “are very effective in regulating the expression of our genes [hence able] to give us a more youthful appearance and prevent the onset of age-related disease.” Such superfoods, according to Dr Perricone who has authored several books on aging, “can turn on protective genes and turn off negative ones.” For example, the omega-3 essential fatty acids and antioxidants in wild salmon and other cold water fish fight inflammation, decrease body fat and keep skin looking youthful.
Reach Out For The Rainbow
“A colorful, balanced diet is associated with good health,” explains American clinical dietician Susan Kasik-Miller. The color of the food indicates the presence of phytochemicals that appear to work synergistically with other food nutrients to promote good health. Thus by incorporating “rainbow foods” like blueberries, tomatoes, carrots and leafy greens, you will be boosting your body with nutrients that are rich in anti-aging antioxidants that can help in lowering disease risk. Try this: fill about half of your plate at every meal with some foods from the rainbow group.
Color You Healthy!
Knowing the health benefits that can be derived from the different colored foods will enable you to better plan your daily meals. Greens – such as broccoli and cabbage – are rich in isothiocyanates which may have anti-cancer properties. Red is good for managing blood pressure, heart health and joint support; cherries, strawberries and tomatoes are some easily available “reds” in the supermarket. They contain lycopenes, quercetin and Vitamin C that can help in protection against heart disease and in lowering the risk of some cancers. Yellow and orange – like mangoes, apricot, papayas and peaches – are beneficial for nurturing skin, bone health plus boosting vision and immunity. Pause and ponder: how much of – and how often are – such healthful foods present on your daily menu?
Antioxidants: Ancient Greek Elixir
The ancient Greeks gave their soldiers watercress salad with olive oil as a therapeutic energy enhancer. Dr Perricone believes that the plant’s high antioxidants and other minerals content activate a series of genes that fill the body with self-protective enzymes that strengthen the immune system. He recommends eating the dish thrice weekly as “it can work wonders for your health.” Once known as a poor man’s food not deserving a place on the dining table, watercress reclaimed its past venerable status due to its high ANDI (Aggregate Nutrient Density Index) score which measures vitamin, mineral and phytonutrient contents in relation to caloric content.
Avoid Inflammatory Foods
The body depends on temporary inflammation – redness, swelling, pain and heat – to help fight off injuries or infections. However, when the inflammation persists, the healing process becomes destructive as the immune system is never “shut off” and can lead to a plethora of health issues such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis. Hence, inflammatory foods – those that can spur inflammation – from refined sugars to processed meats to preservatives and more, which unfortunately form a huge part of the modern diet, should be reduced as much as possible. So here’s a takeaway challenge you can immediately work on: cut down on the sugar – limit yourself to just one bottle of fizzy drink per week.