Foods such as kale, sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, black beans and brown rice can trip up Father Time before he comes creeping around adding body fat and depleting energy. As early as our twenties, a gradual decline in the immune and muscular systems begins to set in if not offset by restorative nutrients and regular exercise. It’s not simply the years that have a damaging effect on our bodies, it’s also those out-of-control free radicals-oxygen molecules that come unglued during normal cell functions. If not disarmed, the radical oxygen fragments attack our cell membranes and leave us vulnerable to such serious health problems as heart disease and cancer as well as signs of deterioration associated swith aging-sagging muscles, wrinkles and the need for reading glasses. Fortunately, the antioxidant nutrients-vitamins A, C and E, selenium and zinc-fight back. Here are specific foods that contain bodyguard nutrients and a dietary plan that promotes lasting vitality and timeless beauty. A diet rich in antioxidants stimulates the immune system and helps protect the body from signs of premature aging. Steal from time and live by the following guidelines:
- Eat five vegetables and fruits daily. For nutrient density, choose produce in living color–deep greens, reds and oranges as in collard greens, tomatoes and mangoes.
- Consume plenty of beans. For low-fat protein and high-quality fiber, make legumes–dry beans, peas, lentils or tofu–the focus of your meals several times a week.
- Get enough calcium–800 to 1,200 milligrams daily. To keep your bones and teeth fortified, count on low-fat dairy products, especially yogurt, broccoli and spinach.
- Get your fill of water. This is the nutrient your body needs in the greatest amount. Use a variety of liquids like diluted juices and herbal teas to achieve your quota of eight cups a day. (By Rajkumar Khatri )