Many of us are becoming increasingly aware or our exposure to various dietary and environmental toxins that can contribute to accelerated aging in the body. These toxins can come in the form of food additives, such as those meant to improve the taste, texture and shelf-life of processed foods. Since most of us can’t create a perfectly clean and safe home, and usually have to venture into the “outside world” on a daily basis, we also can’t avoid being bombarded by chemicals from the products we use to the environmental by-products of transportation and industry. Despite your very best efforts, you may still feel as though your exposure is higher than you’d like, and you may be wondering how these factors are affecting your body.
Here is a quick quiz to give you a better idea of your risk for accelerated aging due to toxin exposure, as well as some essential nutrients and simple strategies to decrease the rate of aging in your body.
- Have dark circles or bags under your eyes?
- Have you been noticing any receding gums?
- Notice the appearance of age spots on the face, hands or arms?
- Have moles that are increasing in number or changing in appearance?
- Experience a generalized decrease in joint mobility?
- Notice a downsize of the upper lip?
- Have skin that is easily damaged by sunlight?
- Have one bowel movement or less per day?
- Currently consider yourself a heavy smoker? (ie a half pack or more per day)
- Currently consider yourself a heavy drinker? (ie 6 or more drinks a week)
- Or did you consume a large amount of refined sugars daily?
- Or did you consume a large amount of refined vegetable oils or hydrogenated fats daily?
- Have been diagnosed with high blood pressure?
- Have or struggle with eczema or psoriasis?
- Notice that your recovery time has become increasingly delayed after illnesses such as cold/flus, bruises/cuts etc?
Use your number of positive (or yes) responses to gauge whether you may be at risk of accelerated aging. Of course, aging is not only a natural, but beautiful life process that not a single one of us escapes from. This quiz is simply to get an idea of whether various lifestyle choices may be posing a negative health risk and increasing the odds that your body is trying to handle more than its fair share.
Excessive eating is a well-known factor in accelerated aging, and unfortunately in Western society we have made living in excess something to be admired. Your body can handle an incredible amount of stress, but it’s so important to recognize that there are always limits, and the more love and nurturing we give to our bodies now, the longer and more joyous a life we can live.
Some strategies to reduce the effect of toxins we encounter in our food and lifestyle are to increase your antioxidant intake. Antioxidants help the body naturally eliminate and ward off toxins before they can cause damage to our cells and tissues. (Please note: it can be dangerous and excessive to take potent antioxidant supplements on a regular basis. Minimizing exposure to toxins in the diet and skin care routine, while increasing intake of whole foods and spices/herbs is the safest and most sustainable route.)
Important nutrients include:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
They can be found in fresh fruits and vegetables such as dark, leafy greens, citrus fruit and sources of healthy fat such as avocados, raw nuts and seeds (Ex. almonds, sesame and sunflower seeds). Some powerhouse spices that you may want to try are garlic, cumin, coriander and turmeric. Notice that all of these are present in curries, so whipping up a batch of Garam Masala to keep in your cupboard could be both a delicious and healthy addition to your weeknight dinner rotation! (Tip: using whole spices and grinding them yourself in either a coffee grinder specifically for spices, or with a mortar and pestle is a great way to increase their nutrient content. As with most things, exposure to oxygen, light and heat decreases nutritional value, so grinding as needed is a great way to get around that!)
Remember: getting older can mean plenty of positive things, but aging before your time can mean missing out. Keeping your body, mind and soul clean and light can go a long way to creating a full, vibrant life!
Schagen, S. K., Zampeli, V. A., Makrantonaki, E., & Zouboulis, C. C. (2012). Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Dermato-Endocrinology, 4(3), 298–307. http://doi.org/10.4161/derm.22876 Igram, C., Gray, J. K., & Igram, C. (2004). Dr. Cass Ingrams Nutrition Tests for Better Health. Buffalo Grove, IL: Knowledge House.