- What would you say to your younger self?
- Some time-travelling tips for beginners
- How to slow ageing with a colourful food and why cheese is good for your brain!
There was a thing going around on social media recently.
It went like this…
“If you could write a note to your younger self, what would you say in only THREE words?”
It’s a pretty interesting question, I suppose.
I mean – what would YOU say?
Some of the answers online went along the lines of:
“It gets better.”
“The future sucks.”
“Invest in Bitcoin.”
“Rethink the hair.”
“Don’t marry Colin.”
So I had a think about it and looked at it from the perspective of my health.
What one thing (in three words) would make a massive difference if I’d started doing it at, say, 18 or 19 years old?
Upon reflection, what I’d say is this…
“Eat more greens.”
Which sounds stupid at first because it’s something parents and responsible adults tell kids all the time.
But I think if I was young and the older me urged me to follow this rule, I would probably assume there was something more in it.
And there is, I think…
Because if I’d eaten a load of kale, Swiss chard and broccoli every week since I was 18, I’d probably be physically much younger now.
In a recent study in Washington, scientists have shown that a diet rich in green vegetables can trigger changes to your DNA that reverse ageing.
Each week they gave healthy men between 50 and 72 years old, two cups of dark leafy greens, two cups of cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli), three cups of colourful vegetables (like carrots, peppers, tomatoes) and then two beetroots.
That works out as just over a cup of vegetables per day – which isn’t a crazily large amount.
Two months later, they compared this group with a control group who ate their regular diet.
It turned out that the veg-heavy group had an average score of 3.23 years younger than the regular eating group.
They measured this through DNA methylation, which is a biological process that assesses ageing.
So eating that amount of vegetables every week can actually increase your lifespan and help protect against heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and dementia.
The study’s co-author said: “This study provides the first insight into the possibility of using natural alterations to target epigenetic processes and improve our wellbeing and perhaps even longevity and lifespan.”
The upshot is…
If you happen to have the amazing ability to time-travel, then go back and tell your younger self to do this one thing and you could avoid all manner of health issues.
And if – like the rest of us – you’re not a time-traveller, then simply start eating that amount of veg each week.
You never know, you could turn back time a little bit just by doing that.
The good thing about it is you can still eat other foods that you enjoy alongside these greens, so it’s not like you have to deprive yourself and subsist on vegetables only.
For instance, there are some more seemingly ‘naughty’ foods that can also help you avoid disease and premature decline…
Why cheese is good for your brain
As I mentioned in a recent letter, calcium is essential for the health of your muscles, heart, brain and nerves.
So adding milk, cheese, yoghurt and butter to your diet (in moderation) is actually good for you.
But it doesn’t stop there…
Many years ago, I was telling readers of this newsletter not to panic about the saturated fats that are in cheese and butter – something that was a bit radical at the time but less so today.
It is now more widely accepted that those kinds of saturated fats don’t harm the arteries after all and here’s why…
The calcium in cheese forms a soapy structure that carries the fats through your bowels and out into the toilet.
What’s more, there are surprising benefits to eating cheese that are coming to the fore.
In 2020, research at Iowa State University showed that cheese was by far the most protective food against age-related cognitive problems.
In other words – cheese is good for your brain!
There is also evidence that it can help reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes.
Amazing isn’t it? A food that was totally demonised for decades, wiped out of many people’s high-carb fat-free 1980s and 1990s diets…
And here we are with the latest science forcing a total u-turn in thinking.
But if you go shopping and you see a pack of cheese, you will likely be alarmed by the angry red colour-coded saturated fat warning on the packet.
That red warning is hopelessly outdated in my opinion.
Obviously, eating too much cheese at the expense of other foods isn’t good for you…
Eating too much of ANYTHING usually isn’t good for you – yes, even fruit and vegetables.
Your body can only process so much of the same nutrient at one time, so once you go over four servings of vegetables in a day, you’re not getting the extra benefits and you’re putting pressure on your system.
But as that latest experiment in Washington showed, it was only around one serving (or a ‘cup’ in the US) per day that did the trick.
Anyway, it’s food for thought!
Oh, and if you’re interested in getting the benefits of calcium in your diet but you cannot eat dairy for ethical or health reasons, then consider our seaweed-derived supplement.
Unlike calcium supplements that are produced from limestone this one is much more easily absorbed.