Do vegans age slower?
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The question of whether vegans age slower or faster than meat eaters can be a bit of a hot topic. Anti-vegan types just love sharing those pictures of worn-out looking vegans, but is this an accurate image?
You'll be pleased to hear that the answer is a resounding no! In fact, there's plenty of evidence to suggest that vegans actually age slower than our omnivorous counterparts.
Ageing from the inside out
When we talk about ageing, we often focus on our outward appearance. However, what's on the surface is just a reflection of what we're putting into our bodies - and a vegan lifestyle often means that we're fueling up with plenty of the good stuff.
A study focused on different lifestyles found that a veg-heavy diet, together with moderate exercise, and the mindful practice of meditation and yoga, resulted in the lengthening of telomeres. These are the ends of chromosomes, and are linked to ageing. Stressful situations shorten them, while a plant-based diet has been shown to lower them.
Of course, this study focused on people consuming whole foods. If your vegan diet is heavy on ultra-processed snacks, you can't expect to see the same results! The good news is that by focusing on what you eat, you can choose some fruits, vegetables and spices that will have a serious impact on the ageing process.
Which vegan foods can turn back time?
You'll want to pack your vegan diet with as much goodness as you can to get the full benefits. There are some specific ingrdients which can really have a serious anti-ageing effect, so stock up on these!
Blueberries aren't just delicious little nuggets of sweetness, they're seriously good for you, too. Research has shown that this fruit can help fight Alzheimer's disease. The thought of dementia can be one of the scariest things about getting old, but scientists have shown that blueberry consumption can increase cognitive performance in elderly patients.
If you think that turmermic smoothies are just the latest hipster trend, think again! Scientists have proven that this spice can fight back against arthritis, another illness that commonly affects us as we get older. Easy to include in vegan diet, turmeric can be added to smoothies or other drinks, and is also a great way to bring colour and flavour to dishes like curries.
Finally, be sure to load up on tomatoes. They're full of lycopene, which is great for our skin, and can protect against photodamage, which can leave you looking wrinkled before your time. Tomatoes are such a common, essential part of any vegan diet, so I'm sure you're eating plenty of them already - but now you've got an excuse to grab some more!
Fighting ageing takes care
The foods I just discussed all have a strong, positive impact on the ageing process. However, there's another side of the coin. We also need to look at areas where deficiencies can arise, and take proactive steps to stop the ageing process in its tracks.
As vegans, we have to acknowledge that there are some areas of our diet that require extra care and attention. Our bones can suffer from a lack of calcium, which can lead to fractures. Sadly, this is more of a problem for vegans than for anyone else.
It's essential to research the nutritional balance of what we're eating. To add calcium, for example, we need to focus on non-dairy sources of this essential nutrient, such as veggies like kale and broccoli. Women, in particular, should ensure that they get enough calcium, as osteoporosis can cause huge problems in later years.
Why do some vegans look older?
So far, so good, right? But you're probably still wondering why some meat eaters insist that vegans don't age well. We all have our own reasons for first going vegan - and it's probably fair to say that vanity isn't usually high on the list! However, you probably don't want to look prematurely old, and as vegans, it is important to pay attention to our skin.
Your skin can suffer from a lack of certain essential nutrients, including DHA, EPA, omega 3 fats and saturated fats. This is what causes that dry, listless look in some vegans' skin.
Fats are particularly important for keeping your skin looking good. Luckily, fats don't have to be off-limits to vegans. Don't be afraid of olive oil and coconut oil, and be sure to indulge in naturally fatty foods like avocadoes and nuts. Avoid superprocessed foods - they may contain fats, but that doesn't mean that they're good for your skin!
Essential additions to the vegan diet for anyone who's conscious of their skin are flaxseeds and chia seeds. These both contain essential omega 3 fats which will help keep your skin looking plumper and more youthful, as well as plenty of other goodness in the form of fibre.
So, do vegans age slower?
It's clear that a plant-based diet is one of the best things we can do to take care of our body. However, merely following a vegan diet won't necessarily have a huge impact on ageing. Remember the golden rule: just because it's vegan, doesn't mean it's good for you.
In order to see a difference, it's essential that your vegan diet is well-balanced, and contains plenty of good, nutritional foods. Keep an eye on what you're eating. If you start to see any warning signs, such as dry skin, fatigue or brittle nails, then you may be deficient in a vital area.
With the ideal vegan diet, you will age more slowly. Just make sure that you're getting that perfect diet, and not filling yourself up with processed junk food. With whole foods, a nutritional balance, and plenty of powerful fruits and vegetables, you'll be rocking smooth skin and exuding youthfulness well into old age!