Top Five Best and Worst Anti-Aging Substances

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Americans are obsessed with reducing the effects of aging on their hair, skin, muscles and brain. Here are five substances that can improve the aging process and five more that dramatically worsen the effects of time on your body

Many of you are aware that how you look and feel largely depends on what you put into your body. The health of your gut, brain, eyes, muscles and even skin can be improved or worsened through your diet and lifestyle choices.

This list highlights the best and worst substances for aging, and by adding or removing these items from your diet you can dramatically mediate the effects of time on your body and decrease your risk of age-related illnesses.

Five Best Anti-Aging Substances

1. Melatonin

Melatonin's anti-stress properties, as well as its effects on the immune system, have been well researched for their anti-aging effects.[i] Additional anti-aging benefits of melatonin include its ability to improve the microstructure of bones and protect the skin.[ii],[iii] Melatonin has also been studied for its beneficial effects on a variety of age-related diseases, including cancer.[iv]

2. Curcumin

Curcumin's anti-aging effects come from its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which work to suppress NF-kappaB-dependent inflammation, a type of inflammation believed to be responsible for the development of many age-related disorders in which cellular senescence is involved, including cancer and atherosclerosis.[v],[vi],[vii]

Curcumin may also lower the risk for age-associated cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's disease and researchers believe that curcumin could be used as a therapeutic cognitive treatment for elderly adults.[viii]

3. Coffee

Research has demonstrated that caffeine, a bioactive natural compound present in coffee, protects against oxidative stress-related skin disease.[ix]

Caffeine may also protect against age-related cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia, and a recent study found that drinking three to five cups of coffee each day decreased the risk of these disorders by 65%.[x]

Although additional research is necessary to further study these effects, researchers are enthusiastic about coffee's therapeutic benefits. Further, research suggests many of the benefits may stem not only from caffeine but from other natural compounds in coffee as well.

4. Grape Seed Extract

Grape seed extract is known for its high concentration of proanthocyanidins, a type of polyphenol known for its immunomodulating effects and ability to protect against oxidative stress and lower cholesterol.[xi] Proanthocyanidins also inhibit the progression of atherosclerosis and diabetes, two common diseases often associated with aging.[xii]

5. Probiotics

A common concern with aging is the appearance of the skin. Probiotics work to restore the acidic pH balance of skin and improve photoaging, premature aging of the skin caused by excess exposure to UV radiation, through the up-regulation of antioxidant components.[xiii],[xiv],[xv]

Additionally, many degenerative diseases are related to imbalances of gut microbiota, microorganisms necessary for optimal nutrient metabolism.[xvi] Changes in diet and microbial diversity throughout life may lead to a higher risk of infections and diseases, but researchers believe that a daily intake of probiotic supplements or foods may improve the aging process and reduce the risk of age-related disorders.[xvii]

Five Worst Anti-Aging Substances

1. Artificial Sweeteners

Researchers have found that intake of artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or sucralose is associated with a higher risk of weight gain and may contribute to the risk of developing diabetes.[xviii]

Additional risks of artificial sweeteners include their adverse effects on the gut microbiome, increasing the risk of tissue inflammation and diseases associated with improper gut microbiota balance, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.[xix],[xx]

2. Sugar

Research has demonstrated that glucose (sucrose, or table sugar, is made up of glucose and fructose) negatively impacts skin repair by cross-linking collagen fibers, and diets high in sugar are linked with a higher perceived age among diabetic and non-diabetic subjects.[xxi],[xxii]

By reducing glycation load, it's possible to effectively lower premature cellular senescence in skin fibroblasts and increase collagen repair while also lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, two age-related diseases linked with excess sugar consumption.[xxiii],[xxiv],[xxv]

3. Aluminum

While aluminum has long been considered an innocuous metal and therefore safe to include in cookware and food preparation processes, researchers have now discovered that prolonged exposure to aluminum may increase and hasten the risk of neurodegeneration and brain-aging disorders, including diseases like Alzheimer's.[xxvi],[xxvii]

4. Trans-Fatty Acids

There is some research to suggest that a diet low in trans-fatty acids may reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.[xxviii] Avoiding these types of synthetic fats may also lower the risk of obesity and Type 2 diabetes, which are also risk factors for age-related dementia.[xxix] Although more research is needed, diets low in these fats (such as the Mediterranean diet) seem to lower dementia risk.[xxx],[xxxi]

5. Tobacco and Alcohol

The use of tobacco products and alcohol have both been linked to premature skin aging.[xxxii],[xxxiii] Other dangerous effects of tobacco use include increased oxidative damage and decreased absorption of antioxidant vitamins, like vitamin C, increasing the risk of age-related diseases.[xxxiv]

Similarly, long-term use of alcohol disrupts cellular aging and negatively impacts telomere length, and some researchers believe that even moderate consumption of alcohol may severely affect biological health as these shortened telomeres are a predictor of increased mortality.[xxxv],[xxxvi]

Additionally, the effects of alcohol seem to worsen with age, since liver enzymes are less able to effectively metabolize alcohol over time.[xxxvii] Finally, heavy alcohol consumption is linked with changes in brain plasticity and cognitive decline, although further research is needed to assess these correlations.[xxxviii]

Properly nourishing your body with the right nutrients and lowering your exposure to the substances listed above is the first step in decreasing your risk of age-related diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity while also improving your quality of life, skin health and gut microbiome.

To view a complete list of the substances that have been researched for their effects on aging, please visit the research database on aging.


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