5 quick ways to revitalize and refuel your body with nutritional goodies that will make you look and feel younger, leaner and more energized.
So you’re 35 (or maybe 25 or 45) and of course you want to look great – glowing skin, glossy hair, bright eyes, a lean body, high energy levels. The kind of happy, shiny, healthy ‘great’ where you feel as good inside as you look on the outside. Well, the quickest and most effective way to achieve this is to change what you eat. The typical symptoms of ageing are now considered to be around 75% from accumulated cell damage due to lifestyle and diet, and only 25% genetic. That gives us all scope for improving the way we look and age.
Food is very powerful. It can be your slowest poison or your greatest healer. It affects everything we do, from the way we function to the way we think. The mad cravings brought on by addictive foods (chocolate, caffeine, alcohol) are an indication of how powerful food is. Use this knowledge positively and a world of fitness and vitality begins to emerge.
We know that avoiding obvious inflammatory-type foods (dairy, red meat, sugar, alcohol) and eating more alkaline (green) foods will benefit us, but sometimes the power of food pulls the other way and we feel ourselves being dragged into a cycle of bad habits and despairing thoughts. The interesting thing is that you don’t have to go to wild extremes to get the balance in your diet right. A good indication that you don’t have the right balance is when you feel sluggish, have digestive, hormonal or mood disorders, bad skin and generally feel unwell.
The reason food can affect our vitality as well as our skin, looks and health is because it is either nourishing us or causing ageing effects. Oxidation, inflammation and acidity are natural in the body but they can lead to ‘dis-ease’ and accelerated ageing when compounded by unhealthy eating habits. The great thing is that there are foods which can help balance these processes so that your body, skin and hair don’t age at an accelerated rate, keeping you looking and feeling young, healthy and vibrant.
But how do you change your diet and make those changes stick over the long term? Most of us know what healthy food is, but what stops us from focusing on good nutrition and rejuvenate eating is that we don’t have the time, energy or knowledge to be inventive and experimental in our buying and cooking. Often, people see anything ‘healthy’ as a chore and unappealing, and head for the ready-meals section instead. My aim is to change that, and give people the nutritional acumen and culinary skills to create everyday meals that help lower body fat, encourage good skin, hair and nails, and raise energy levels so you can quickly look and feel much younger.
Here are some anti-ageing cooking and diet tips that I teach on my cooking course, and you can find many more plus some fabulous ‘youthing’ recipes in my book Eat Yourself Young (Quadrille).
TOP 5 WAYS:
• Adding raw to your diet is essential to ensure your enzyme activity, nutrition and overall vitality remains boosted and youthful. Remember it’s not the food in your life it’s the life in your food that counts, and with raw food you can guarantee it is packed with antioxidants and youth-busting vitamins and minerals. Cooking food higher than 118oF (48oC) can kill the naturally occurring enzymes which are essential for digestion and repair. Try and eat at least one raw meal a day.
• Sugar is the new addiction – people are realizing that it is added to everything. How can you avoid it? You can get sweetness into food by adding home-made apricot paste (see recipe in Eat Yourself Young) instead of processed sugar; by using natural fruit sugars from dried fruits (e.g. mashed-up Medjool dates); by making fruit concentrates (boiling fruit until thick); or by juicing raw fruits then adding either the juice or pulp as a sweetener if you’re eating raw.
• Instead of adding salt, use lemon to enhance flavour. Of if you miss salt too much, start cooking with vegetables that give a salty kick without adding any sodium chloride. Add seaweeds such as samphire or kombu to your main dishes, curries, casseroles and stews, or add salty-tasting veg like steamed celery or spinach straight to the plate.
• Avoid using fats in cooking wherever possible – especially ‘bad’ fats that change their structure when heated to produce anti-youthing free radicals (that’s corn oil, safflower, soya, sunflower and generic ‘vegetable’ oils). Instead use coconut oil or oils that contain mostly mono-saturates (rapeseed, avocado or olive oil), which are more stable when heated. When roasting veg (potatoes, sweet potatoes, beetroot, onions etc.) simply dry roast in the oven (no oil) – they are naturally delicious.
• Steam-fry foods. It’s easy: put a heavy-based frying pan or saucepan on a medium heat for a few minutes until hot but not smoking. Put half a teaspoonful of oil into the pan, to coat it and prevent sticking. Add 4-6 tablespoons of water (more if you need it). Wait until the water is bubbling, then add whatever food you want to fry and cook as normal. Super low cal and all-round good for you …