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Top 10 anti-aging foods to preserve your youth

Read time: 9 minutes.

In the quest for eternal youth, the importance of incorporating anti-aging foods into your diet cannot be overstated. These remarkable nutritional powerhouses are packed with antioxidants, vitamins, and essential minerals that can work wonders in maintaining a youthful and vibrant appearance.  Due to their high levels of antioxidants, many nature-based foods help combat free radicals and oxidative stress, leading contributors to premature aging.  But antioxidants aren’t the only beneficial compound found in youth preserving foods.  

A diet rich in colorful vegetables like kale and spinach can provide your body with essential nutrients such as vitamin C and E, promoting skin elasticity and minimizing the appearance of wrinkles.  And the inclusion of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce inflammation which is a primary driver of aging-related diseases. 

The foods that you choose to consume can have a profound impact on your long-term well-being.  They can also slow down the aging process from within, supporting not only a youthful complexion but also enhancing overall health and vitality.  Here is a list of my top 10 anti-aging foods to preserve your youth.

1. Tremella mushrooms

Tremella mushrooms are an edible mushroom species widely used in traditional Chinese medicine for rejuvenation and healing. For these reasons, it was the most cultivated species of edible mushroom in China and other Asian countries. This species of mushroom also goes by other names such as Snow Ear, Snow Fungus, Silver Ear Fungus and White Jelly Mushroom. It is one of the most important anti-aging food.

Scientists have also found evidence that tremella mushrooms (Tremella fuciformis) possess bioactive compounds that exhibit anti-tumor, anti-aging, anti-oxidation, and immune-supporting properties. There’s also evidence that this edible mushroom contributes to repairing brain memory impairment.

One of the biggest drivers of aging is how well the immune system functions. This mushroom contains powerful compounds that support a healthy immune system and therefore assists the body with managing inflammation and repairing cellular damage. It’s also sometimes called “the beauty mushroom” because it hydrates the skin and makes it feel softer.

Also ReadEating for Beautiful Skin: How Your Diet Can Help You Look Younger

My most trusted source for all mushroom supplements is this company. They take the time to do grow mushrooms correctly so that their bioactive compounds are abundant in their products, and ensures these compounds are in a bioavailable form that your cells can actually use.

I prefer to use the powdered form of these mushrooms in my morning latte. Since adding these to my daily routine, I’ve noticed a significant impact in the appearance of my skin.is one of the most important

2. Chaga "mushrooms"

Often called Chaga mushrooms technically not mushrooms  because it’s not the fruiting body of a fungus. Officially they are called conks (also sometimes called a canker or bracket fungi) which is a dense fungal mass that grows on birch trees in cold regions of the world.  A primary life goal of chaga fungi is to live as long as possible and those longevity  properties are passed along to those who consume it. Chaga is sometimes referred to the king of mushrooms (even though it’s a non-mushroom) because it contains over 200 different bioactive compounds that support human health.

The primary bioactive compound in edible mushrooms and in chaga is a polysaccharide called Beta-Glucans which are very powerful antioxidants.  Chaga also contains other compounds that aid in digestion, help protect the skin from UV damage, support the immune response, and help the body respond to stress. Chaga helps the neutralize free radicals, protect the brain from degeneration, reduce inflammation, and protect cells from DNA damage. This makes it an excellent food for delaying the aging process and that is why this is included in our list if anti-aging foods.
Most use freshly foraged wild chaga to make tea but there are also high quality supplements available, like these ones, that serve as a great alternative.

3. Collagen protein

Collagen is an important protein found in connective tissues and skin. It’s also considered to be an “anti-aging protein” because of it’s role in skin health, gut health, immune system support and the activation of anti-aging genes.  This collagen, which represents around 30% of total body proteins, declines at a rate of 1-1.5% per year after the age of 20.

Czajka et al 2018 found evidence that daily supplementation with collagen protein(in the form of collagen bioactive peptides) in combination with certain vitamins and bioactive compounds, improves skin elasticity and has a beneficial effect on joint health. In this study 61 patients ranging from 30 to 66 years old were given a nutrient cocktail of hydrolyzed collagen from fish, Glucosamine HCl, L-Carnitine, Black pepper, dried maca extracts, hyaluranic acid, a variety of vitamins and minerals, chondroitin sulphate and N-acetylglucosamine. They compared these patients to another group of 61 patients that received a placebo. This study found strong evidence that the collagen cocktail yielded a significant increase in skin elasticity in those individuals that consumed it daily for 90 days.

Speaking of collagen cocktails, another scientist recently proposed that a nutrient mixture of probiotics, collagen, CBD along with a healthy diet and lifestyle, could delaying the aging process and may be an effective treatment in preventing Alzheimer’s disease.

The best sources of collagen are from animal foods such as bone broth, fish, shellfish, skin-on poultry, organ meats, and eggs.  Since collagen is a major protein in skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments, that’s where you’ll find the highest amounts of dietary collagen.   Some plant-foods such as citrus fruits, garlic, and berries, contain small amounts of collagen, though.

Collagen supplements are also a good way to ensure you’re getting enough of this important protein in your diet.  Not all of them are created equal, though.  Check out this post to learn what to look for in a collagen supplement.

4. Omega-3 fatty acids

When it comes to healthy fats, the healthiest foods are those that contain low levels of Omega 6 fatty acids compared to Omega 3 fatty acids. This ratio is crucial for keeping inflammation and cell damage resulting from oxidative stress to a minimum. Foods that contain this ratio of fatty acids with high amounts of Omega 3 fatty acids is fish oil (from fish and seafood) and perilla oil derived from perilla seeds.

Many researchers have found evidence that the Mediterranean diet is very effective at keeping people youthful. This diet is mostly plant-based with fish being the major source of protein. Related to this, other research has identified Omega-3 fatty acids to show positive impacts on aging by reducing inflammation, protect the heart, and protecting telomeres from shortening.

Also ReadHealthiest Oil to Cook With? A Complete Guide

Another scientist found that consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids prolongs lifespan, suppresses tumor growth, and supports healthy immune system by protecting against oxidative stress and upregulating apoptosis (cell death of damaged cells).

5. Maca

The herbaceous plant, maca, is one of the only plants that grows in the high Andes Mountains in Bolivia and Peru and is packed with vitamins, minerals, proteins, and phytochemicals. The root of this amazing plant is pulled from the soil and ground up into a powder. This powder is then used as a favorite of raw foodists and superfood advocates as an addition to their smoothies. It is considered an adaptogen which means that it helps the body adapt to stress thereby improving your body’s ability to heal and assists in balancing our endocrine systems.

Also ReadCommon Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

This plant is also a natural energizer which provides your body with a healthy source of energy and there’s some evidence that maca can help boost metabolism and shed body fat. Adding just a teaspoon of raw maca powder to your morning smoothie could help you combat fatigue all day and allow your inner superhero powers to shine through. The best way I can describe the taste of maca is decadent, malty, earthy and vanilla-like.

Maca contains bioactive compounds called triterpenes which have been found to prevent age-related decline in muscle mass (Yi, et al 2022). Additionally, maca also contains a variety of micronutrients and amino acids including leucine and arginine. These two amino acids are important for maintaining or increasing muscle mass.

6. Edible flowers

In many parts of the world, flowers are consumed as part of alternative medicine practices or as ingredients in traditional foods. Not only do they add to the meal’s aesthetic, but they also improve nutritive value significantly.

According to Chen et al (2020), edible flowers prevent skin aging, neurodegeneration, and immunosenescence. This means that they help keep the skin looking youthful, the brain sharp, and cells from accumulating damage. Because of their impacts on skin health, they are very often used in anti-aging skin care products and supplements.

Edible flowers can be consumed whole or used as ingredients to make tea, herbal tonics, and functional beverages.  You can find dried edible flowers in many high-quality herbal teas such as this one made with Butterfly Pea Flowers.  Or these lavender flowers which can be used to make tea or as a delicious and aromatic ingredient in baking or DIY anti-aging beauty products. 

As I mentioned in this article, alcohol consumption is one of the most significant accelerators to the aging process.  For those that want to consume cocktails without the alcohol, you may want to consider spirit-free alternatives made with edible flowers.  These ingredients give zero-proof spirits delicious floral notes to non-alcoholic cocktails and help to slow down the aging process. Fresh or dried rose petals, lavender, and chamomile are popular ingredients in botanical recipes. My favorite spiritless spirits are from a company called Wilderton. They have non-alcoholic spirits which contain flowers such as orange blossom, lavender, and gentian.

7. Wolfberry

Also known as the goji berry, wolfberries is well known for nourishing the liver and improving the eyesight but it also has anti-aging properties. Specifically, these micronutrient-dense berries demonstrate neuroprotective effects and significantly increase lifespan in test subjects (fruit flies and mice). The bioactive compounds in these berries also protect cells against damage from oxidative stress, support immune function, and improve memory.

In 2016, a group of Italian pharmaceutical scientists found that extract from goji berries controls the expression of genes that are involved in oxidative stress, proliferation, apoptosis and cancer.

In traditional Chinese medicine, wolfberry is used to balance energy in different systems of the body during aging, and also help to preserve the aging brain.

Check out this Goji Berry Smoothie recipe for one way to consume this anti-aging food. 

8. Pomegranate seeds

Pomegranate seeds contain high levels of phytochemicals that promote health in a variety of ways. One of these bioactive compounds found in this fruit are called ellagitannins which are converted to urolithin A by microbes in the gut. Urolithin A has been found to promote healthy muscle function during aging, and to prevent the accumulation of mitochondria dysfunction.

It’s also been shown to display anti-inflammatory and anti-obesity activities, and to lengthen lifespan.   

9. Branch chain amino acids

Branch chain amino acids, or BCAAs, are a group of 3 amino acids that are essential to the body and can only be obtained through the diet. They include leucine, isoleucine and valine and play an important role in preventing catabolism (or breakdown) of muscle tissue.

BCAA’s are abundant in animal foods (muscle meat, organ meats, eggs, and dairy), and present in low amounts in some plant-based foods such as legumes and grains. Many supplement companies also offer BCCAs in powder or capsule form.  According to scientists, BCAA’s play 3 major roles in the body. They act as signaling molecules to stimulate the building of proteins, are used as building blocks of proteins, and when the body is in a fasted state, they are used as a source of energy.

As people age, muscle growth becomes more difficult due to natural physiological changes. The preservation of muscle mass is also difficult in aging individuals because total protein consumption often decreases as people get older.  Scientists have found that BCAA supplementation delays aging and may lengthen lifespan. 

The mechanism responsible is a pair of cellular proteins that activate muscle protein synthesis. These proteins called MTORC1 and MTORC2 which stands for Mechanistic Target of Rapamycin Complex. These 2 complexes are often referred to as “MTOR” and when activated plays a major role in preventing breakdown of muscle tissue and in autophagy (the body’s process for breaking down proteins and using them to make new ones). These protein complexes rely on BCAAs so without them these anti-aging complexes would not exist or would not function properly.

10. Turmeric

For thousands of years, turmeric has been used by Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioners to treat inflammation, skin wounds and blood disorders.  The main bioactive compound found in turmeric that has been extensively studied is curcumin. This powerful compound has anti-microbial, anti-oxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties. Several scientists have also found it to have cholesterol-lowering, anti-diabetic, and anti-tumor properties. These properties not only contribute to improve overall health, but also help to prevent age-related decline.

Also ReadHacking Age-Related Decline in Athletic Performance

Scientists in Japan have found that the bioactive compounds in turmeric prevented age-related skin changes such as sagging, wrinkles, pigmentation and thinning.  It has also been found to prevent neurodegeneration in the brain, and therefore lead to better cognitive performance and longevity of the brain. 

In summary...

The journey towards a more youthful and vibrant self is undoubtedly influenced by the foods we choose to consume. The 10 anti-aging foods we’ve explored in this blog post are not just culinary delights; they’re natural powerhouses that can help you defy the sands of time. From Tremella mushrooms to Omega-3 fatty acids, these ingredients offer a holistic approach to maintaining a youthful appearance while supporting your overall well-being.

As we celebrate the remarkable potential of these anti-aging foods, it’s essential to remember that age is not a barrier to staying active and healthy. For adult athletes who wish to extend their athletic journey and stay in the game for many years, consistency is key. Don’t underestimate the power of regular, well-rounded exercise routines tailored to your body’s needs. Additionally, always prioritize proper hydration, adequate sleep, and stress management. These are the cornerstones of longevity and optimal athletic performance.

Above all, remember that age is just a number. Embrace the wisdom and experience that come with it, and nourish your body with the right foods to fuel your active lifestyle. By incorporating these anti-aging foods into your diet and maintaining a holistic approach to health, you can continue to enjoy the thrill of athleticism for many years to come.

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