Considering our body is made up of nearly 60 per cent of the stuff, it seems common sense that drinking enough water could improve our life expectancy. “Drinking adequate water to stay hydrated helps assist in digestion by keeping our gut moist and lubricated, helping our bodies carry nutrition to our cells, as well as in the ridding of waste products,” says osteopath, Barbara Joy Jones. “Aesthetically, it helps keep our skin looking like a fresh grape versus a dehydrated raisin.”
“Probiotics are ‘good’ gut bacteria that provide many health benefits when part of a healthy diet and supplementation regimen, from immune system integrity to even producing certain vitamins,” explains nutritionist, Dr Roger Adams. “Research has also indicated that probiotics may help improve certain skin conditions like eczema, improve urinary tract health, and even lessen allergy symptoms,” says Adams. While you can get probiotics in many of the foods you eat, such as yoghurt, kimchi, sauerkraut and kefir, you can also up your daily dose with over-the-counter supplements.
You’ve probably noticed that collagen is an ingredient in numerous skin care products on the shelves today, but it’s also found in the body naturally – in joints, bones, muscles and tendons. “It’s the major protein in the body that binds tissues together, and is also known as the body’s scaffolding or supporting structure,” explains Dr Adams. The only issue is that, as we age, our body’s production of collagen starts to decline, which leads to physical signs of ageing such as wrinkles. Taking a collagen supplement, or consuming any protein source rich in proline and glycine, may help increase your body’s production. However, Dr Adams recommends ensuring that your collagen supplement comes from a reputable company.
This golden ancient spice that gives curry its yellow colour has a slew of anti-ageing benefits, specifically anti-inflammatory and antioxidant protective perks. “The active ingredient, a compound called curcumin, has been found to prevent cognitive decline,” says clinical nutritionist, Dr David Friedman. In other words, if you want to have a sharp mind through the decades, take turmeric. But that’s not all, Dr Friedman points out: studies also show turmeric to be helpful in reversing many of the chronic illnesses associated with ageing like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and cancer.
If you’re good about staying out of the sun, the downside could mean that you’re not synthesising enough vitamin D – which is actually a hormone that plays a key role in almost all organ systems in the body, explains naturopath, Olivia Rose. “From prevention and treatment of heart disease, osteoporosis, muscle pain and weakness, joint pain, memory issues, prevention of cold and flu, as well as the prevention of cancer and more, optimal levels of vitamin D in the blood should be around 120 nmol/L,” she says. “Older adults also make vitamin D less efficiently than younger individuals, therefore supplementation is key.”
Coconut oil’s benefits have been getting a lot of attention – it is incredibly nutrient-dense, and people around the globe use it as a natural remedy for a myriad of ailments. In particular, Dr Adams explains, coconut oil is a good source of antioxidants, which help fight diseases like cancer, heart disease, joint pain and inflammation, and ageing. While he does not recommend taking coconut oil in large amounts, due to the potential negative aspect that it may raise bad LDL cholesterol, he encourages clients to use it sparingly in cooking to impart different flavours and add variety to their diets.
This heart-healthy fat is essential to good health with a laundry list of benefits, such as improving eye, brain and heart health and fighting depression and anxiety. “Omega-3s, found naturally in the diet in fatty fish like salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel and sardines, and also in other sources like chia, flax and walnuts, are important for helping our body reduce inflammation, improve heart health, and maintain healthy skin,” says Dr Adams. “Omega-3s are also critical for brain functioning and some research shows supplementation may be beneficial during pregnancy for foetal brain and eye development.” He usually recommends clients take 2.5-3 grams of omega-3 per day, but be sure to consume with food to increase absorption and minimise any gastrointestinal upset.
For centuries, healers have hailed this beverage as a longevity booster. In fact, one study published in the Annals of Epidemiology found that individuals who consume green tea on a regular basis are at a lower risk for heart disease and premature death. Additionally, green tea has brain-boosting benefits – it seems to enhance memory and increase attention. Aim to drink one to two cups of green tea daily, ideally in place of your coffee.
Perhaps the most appealing natural anti-ageing remedy, dark chocolate may keep you young thanks to its rich antioxidant content. One study from the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology showed antioxidants in dark chocolate – mainly flavonoids – protect the brain from age-related cognitive decline. What’s more, Dr Friedman notes, eating dark chocolate regularly can have positive effects on the skin by reducing facial wrinkles, helping protect against sun exposure, and improving skin elasticity.
These yummy, round berries are more than delicious: they also contain an age-defying antioxidant called anthocyanin, which research has found to possess powerful anti-inflammatory effects. “In addition, blueberries increase brain signalling, which improves memory and helps balance glucose levels, which may combat neurodegeneration linked to Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr Friedman. “Also, research from the Harvard School of Public Health shows regular consumption of blueberries can reduce the risk of heart attack in women by 32 per cent.”
You may have heard about the anxiety-reducing and sleep-enhancing benefits of CBD oil, but did you know it can improve circulation, reduce heart issues, and prevent the kind of high blood pressure linked to ageing? “CBD oil derived from cannabis has been shown to reduce blood pressure and improve circulation, although there have not been a lot of studies because cannabis has been illegal for many years,” says naturopath, Dr Lynn Anderson. “CBD oil removes the THC, which is the compound that causes the ‘high’ for cannabis,” she explains.
This oil, a byproduct of wine-making, also serves as an anti-ageing remedy, according to Dr Rose. “Used topically, grapeseed oil can strengthen hair strands when added to your regular hair conditioning regimen and it can also be used as an all-natural makeup remover, which will also help reduce the appearance of fine lines due to its incredible antioxidant properties,” she says. “Grapeseed oil is rich in vitamin E, a vitamin and antioxidant known to be helpful for the prevention of heart disease, particularly when it’s consumed as food.” She recommends using it straight or adding a few drops to your favourite moisturiser or adding a teaspoon to a facial mask of ripe avocados.
This root vegetable that’s native to subtropical climates, mostly South America, is rich in carbohydrates and serves as an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C, potassium and folate (an essential nutrient for pregnant women). It also happens to help with creaking joints, a sign of arthritis. “Arthritis, like many diseases, is inflammation-related, and yucca root extract happens to be an ancient natural remedy for inflammation,” says Dr Anderson. “Yucca is a good source of saponins, which may have anti-arthritic properties by suppressing intestinal protozoa which may have a role in joint inflammation.”
This article first appeared on Reader’s Digest.