General Lethargy, sleepless nights and chronic fatigue used to be traits associated with the elderly. Today, however, this can be true of anyone – old and young alike. What has changed in the past couple of decades so much that we have started growing old early? Technology is one major culprit and chemicals come a close second.
Working together, these two have sped up the ageing process of our bodies and resulted in weaker systems. To get an expert view, I discussed the hypothesis with Dr Varshada Dandekar Gadre, an Ayurveda consultant and physician based in Mumbai. Her insights proved that the chemicals and toxins we ingest, knowingly or unknowingly, adversely affect our internal systems.
“We don’t sleep or wake up on time, hardly ever exercise, don’t eat on time and when we do, we don’t really check what we are eating. All of these lifestyle habits come together to affect our metabolism and immune system – thus accelerating the ageing of our bodies,” she tells The Better India (TBI).
She gives the example of air conditioners and how they stop the natural process of our bodies flushing out toxins through sweat. That’s an eye-opener.
Since the ageing of the body is largely related to what we consume, we will focus on food habits in this article.
What We Eat:
Most grocery lists are filled with essentials, snacks and packaged food that we can have on the go. But at what cost? Along with the added calories, what goes in the stomach are extra salt, processed sugar and preservatives.
Our first step should be to ditch all the pesticide-laden vegetables, fruits and staples. They make the soil toxic, poison underground water tables and naturally, harm us in permanent ways. Make a wise choice this month and shop for organic staples by clicking on this link.
Another ingredient to dump is Salt. Or the excess of it.
“Salt is necessary for the body in a cooked form. So it is essential in your vegetables, curries and other freshly cooked foods. But when used as a preservative and in added quantities in packaged foods, the salt can prove harmful to the body,” informs Dr Gadre.
Snacks are a necessary part of your diet. But snacks should never be synonymous with unhealthy. They can actually add on to your day’s nutrition if you choose healthy seeds, grains and natural sweeteners for your midday munchies. Curious where you can get them? It’s as easy as a click!
Soft drinks, high-calorie snacks and foods with processed sugars are a few more examples of food that age us quickly. But we know enough about them already. So the next point to note about harmful food habits is the way we store them.
Food Storage and Methods of Cooking:
Non-sticks are so convenient that they have replaced almost all of our traditional cookware. But are they healthy? Here’s all you need to know about non-sticks and their healthier alternatives.
Speaking to The Guardian, Dr Jenny Goodman cautions against the use of aluminium as food wrapping, “Don’t keep leftovers in the fridge wrapped in aluminium foil or use it to wrap sandwiches for lunch, or cook your Sunday roast in it, especially if you squeeze lemon onto the meat. Lemon juice is acidic and leeches the aluminium out into the food. Do ditch the tin foil. Store food in ceramic or glass containers and cook using a casserole pot with a lid or pots made of cast iron.”
How do you store a half-eaten apple or some coconut chutney? Reusable beeswax wraps, that’s how!
“Refrigerators have become such an integral part of our kitchen that we forget that food stored in it ceases to be fresh. Just because it is not spoilt does not mean the food is as healthy as it was when freshly cooked. Stale food does not provide the body with the nutrition that fresh food does so we need to be careful with our usage of the fridge,” Dr Gadre tells TBI.
How We Eat Our Food:
Another crucial aspect is the way we eat food. Dr Gadre clarifies that the extra salt, calories and potentially carcinogenic preservatives in our food lead to low immunity, a compromised immune system, and poor metabolism that ultimately leads to the early ageing of the body.
“But also look at the way we are consuming our food. Fried chips, soft drinks, ready to eat sauces, packaged curd etc dominate our day’s intake. We eat them whenever we are hungry, only to silence the stomach for a while without worrying about its nutritional value. If this becomes a habit, our body is not getting any benefit of the food and is ageing sooner than it should,” the Mumbai physician shares.
As responsible adults, it is imperative to eat on time and be mindful of what we put in our bodies. Start today, and eat right for a body that deals with all the stress and yet look ageless!
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)