The art and science of anti-aging

If you want to minimise the signs of aging, up your intake of antioxidants, explains Patrick Holford.

Most of the damage to your cells, and thus your body, is caused by oxidants, the dangerous sparks from anything burnt, be it meat, cigarettes or car exhaust. Our own bodies ‘burn’ carbohydrates for energy, creating zillions of oxidants. If you up your intake of antioxidants, both from food and supplements, you’ll protect your DNA from damage.

Antioxidants are team players, which means you need them all. The key players are vitamin A and beta-carotene, vitamin E, vitamin C, co-enzyme Q10, alpha lipoic acid, glutathione, zinc and selenium. Eating specific foods certainly helps but I, and most anti-ageing experts, recommend you also take supplements.

Antioxidants are team players, which means you need them all.

A recent study in the Nutrition Journal, by Dr Gladys Block from the University of California, USA, compared those who took high-dose supplements to those who took none. The risk for diabetes was 73 percent less and the risk for coronary heart disease was 52 percent less in those who took supplements, and these people were 74 percent more likely to rate their health as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

But even before supplementation, the first step is to eat foods that give you plenty of these nutrients – and stay away from fried, refined and processed foods.

Anti-Aging Supernutrients

  • Vitamin A and beta-carotene: carrots, tomatoes, sweet potato, butternut squash and watercress
  • Vitamin E: seeds, nuts and seafood
  • Vitamin B6 and folate: beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and greens, especially broccoli and asparagus
  • Vitamin B12: meat, fish, eggs and milk (if you’re vegan you need to supplement it)
  • Vitamin C: broccoli, peppers, kiwi, berries, especially strawberries, and citrus fruit
  • Anthocyanin: all berries, especially blueberries and cherries
  • Glutathione: red onions, garlic, leeks
  • Co-enzyme Q-10: fish, especially sardines and mackerel, organ meats, peanuts, wholegrains
  • Resveratrol: red wine, red grapes and berries
  • Zinc: seeds and nuts, as well as eggs, fish and especially oysters
  • Selenium: seafood, nuts and seeds

Patrick Holford is a British nutritionist/nutritional therapist and author. He appears regularly on television and radio in the UK and abroad and has 36 books in print in 29 languages.