Staying hydrating and filling your diet with an array of healthy, diverse foods is a better plan for aging than stocking up on all of the best serums and moisturizers in the world. Whether your main concern is health and longevity, great skin, or a combination of both, there are specific foods that experts say are incredibly important, especially as we age, and can better protect our bodies from the stress of everyday living. Chris Mirabile is the founder and CEO of NovosLabs, a consumer biotech company that specializes in human longevity and leveraging the latest scientific breakthroughs to slow down aging with the backing of scientists from Harvard, MIT and the Salk Institute, as well as a writer at SlowMyAge.com. Here, Mirabile outlines why you should consider incorporating these four super-hydrating and good-for-you foods, especially if you are over 40 and concerned about the physical and mental effects of aging.
Bone broth is not only replete with vitamins and minerals but Mirabile notes that it also contains two critical ingredients for skin health and longevity: collagen and hyaluronic acid.
“Although collagen is broken down into its constituent amino acids during digestion, it is reassembled by the body and used for skin, hair, nails, for sturdy blood vessels and more,” Mirabile says. “Hyaluronic acid (HA) is only modestly effective when applied topically. Ingesting hyaluronic acid can hydrate skin from the inside, out, and improve joint health. A little known fact about HA is that it also contains acetyl-glucosamine, a substance that extends lifespan in multiple organisms.”
“By now, everyone knows about the health and skin benefits of Omega-3 oils from fatty fish like salmon,” Mirabile says. “Most people don’t know that salmon is also full of another key nutrient for skin health: astaxanthin. A carotenoid (vitamin E family) that makes salmon pink, astaxanthin has very potent antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties that can potentially reduce damage from the sun’s UV rays, the number one cause of skin wrinkling after aging. Not only that, astaxanthin is being studied for its benefits to long-term cognitive health and athletic performance!”
Go ahead and have a sweet treat. But if you want to enjoy a dessert that is also a dynamo when it comes to your long-term health and skin, dark chocolate is the perfect choice. “Dark chocolate contains polyphenols, flavanols and catechins — plant-based compounds that have favorable effects on human health,” Mirabile says. “In fact, a study has shown that dark chocolate has more of these health-promoting substances than any other tested fruits, including blueberries. Dark chocolate can possibly lower LDL cholesterol while also improving skin texture, reducing skin redness from sun exposure and increasing skin hydration.”
Make sure you stick with 80% or darker chocolate, Mirabile notes — going below that means more sugar and less of the healthy stuff (cacao).
Having a diverse array of berries can have both short and long-term benefits for your health and skin, according to Mirabile. “For example, strawberries contain a compound known as fisetin, which is being heavily studied for its potential to destroy senescent cells, one of the 10 biological causes of aging,” Mirabile says. “Or, take blueberries, which contain pterostilbene, a hot longevity ingredient that can favorably impact your epigenome — which genes are turned on and off — which needs all the help it can get as you age and is a top area of interest for longevity scientists like Dr. David Sinclair of Harvard University.”
Additionally, Mirabile says, berries can also help protect against free radical damage from the sun, pollution or simply from getting older.
“Free radicals can damage DNA, stem cells and other healthy cells,” Mirabile says. “Simultaneously addressing senescent cells, your epigenome and free radical damage is a fantastic way to improve your whole body health and your skin, all at the same time.”
In short: it’s never just about what you put on your skin or how much time you clock in at the gym — adding great foods to your diet can also help you stay on top of your game, no matter what your age.