To find the fountain of youth, restock your pantry. Korean researchers have evidence of what scientists have long hypothesized: A healthy diet high in vegetables, whole grains, and seafood can keep you younger for longer.
The new study, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, is based on data from almost 2,000 Korean adults tracked over 10 years. Researchers looked at telomeres (the caps at the end of each strand of DNA), which are markers of biological aging. Every time a cell divides, the telomeres become shorter. Older people, therefore, usually have shorter telomeres than younger people. But telomere length — what scientists call “biological age” — doesn’t always match up with chronological age.
“Scientists have hypothesized for a very long time that the way that we eat can benefit our health due to antiaging effects or neuroprotective effects,” says Richard S. Isaacson, MD, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, who was not involved in the study.
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“This research is fascinating because it finally shows a link in how the foods we eat have a direct effect on aging,” Isaacson tells Yahoo Health.
A healthy diet fights aging in two main ways, Isaacson explains: by fighting oxidative damage and by lowering inflammation.
In addition, it’s important to limit avoid foods that contribute to aging, says Barry Sears, author of The Mediterranean Zone. “These include foods high in saturated fats and white carbohydrates such as bread and pasta,” he tells Yahoo Health. He also recommends limiting foods in omega-6 fatty acids, such as vegetable oils.
Keep in mind, Isaacson says, “you can’t just eat a blueberry, and that’s it.” Adds Sears: “There is no [one] magic antiaging food, but there are antiaging diets.”
Overall, the results of the study are encouraging, Isaacson says. “In life, we are always playing this tug of war against our genes,” he explains. “If you want to get a better footing, you can eat healthier.”
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