There is a huge interest in anti aging but there is no agreement among scientists about what causes aging. There are a number of theories but one of the most respected and studied is the free radical theory of aging. So how might a detox diet be an anti aging diet?
Let’s first have a look at the free radical theory of aging. Free radicals cause excessive oxidative damage to our cells resulting in aging. And there is some evidence that increasing the amount of antioxidants in the diets of mice and other animals can slow the effects of aging. A good detox diet is full of antioxidants.
What is a Free Radical?
The simplest explanation of a free radical is an unstable molecule. Stable molecules contain pairs of electrons. Free radicals contain an odd number of electrons, which makes them unstable and highly reactive. As they try to balance themselves they combine with other atoms that contain unpaired electrons and new radicals are created. A chain reaction starts and they damage our DNA, mitochondria, and cell membranes.
Where do they come from?
Free radicals result from normal metabolism that goes on every day in your body. They also come from the environment – pollution, cigarette smoke, radiation, overexposure to sunlight, the water supply, fried food and other toxic substances that we put into our bodies.
What can we do about them?
Antioxidants are free radical fighters. The body has it’s own antioxidant system that neutralizes free radicals so they are no longer harmful. An antioxidant supplies the missing electron or removes an extra one to stabilize the free radical.
The function of this antioxidant system relies on an adequate supply of minerals such as selenium, copper, zinc and manganese which come from your food if you eat the right things. Processed food is often lacking in the nutrients needed for the body to function at its best.
Then there are antioxidants that are in your food such as the Vitamins A,C & E and beta-carotene, lycopene and quercetin. Of course you will only get a good supply of these if your diet is good. Fresh fruits, vegetables and green tea are rich in antioxidants and form the basis of a detox diet.
There are other compounds in foods can affect aging. They can be classified according to their impact on inflammation at the cellular level. Dr Nicholas Perricone says you can help to slow aging at the cellular level by choosing foods that are anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants.
Perricone recommends these anti-inflammatory foods – all foods that figure high on a detox diet.
- Allium vegetables: garlic, onions, leeks, scallions, chives, and shallots
- Green foods, such as wheatgrass
- Buckwheat, both seeds and grains
- Beans and lentils
- Hot peppers
- Nuts and seeds
- Yogurt and kefir
Detox harmful chemicals that cause free radical damage
A detox diet also help to get rid of the harmful chemicals that accumulate in your body and contribute to free radical damage. By eating foods that are known to rev up Phase 1 and Phase II liver detox pathways you will be eating anti-aging foods.
It’s known that intensive detox is regenerative. Your body can repair itself if it has the right building blocks. You cells are capable of renewing themselves if they have the right materials. This is rejuvenation and anti aging.
This article would not be complete if I didn’t mention the calorie restriction theory of extending life. Researchers have discovered that restricting calories can extend the lives of animals. Whether this will work for humans is still not known.
It is clear though that achieving and maintaining a healthy weight while eating a very healthy diet reduces the risk of chronic diseases so can extend life. Fewer calories means fewer damaging free radicals created by normal metabolism.
In animals with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and stroke a calorie restricted diet decreased the deterioration of nerves in the brain and increased nerve creation. It is known that a calorie-restriction diet can improve memory in older adults.
You have to achieve a happy balance between fewer calories without depriving yourself of nutrients that are needed for good health.
A detox diet high in fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and lentils and the maintenance diet does provide fewer calories but is packed full of anti-aging nutrients. It may just be the ultimate anti-aging diet.