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Secrets to looking younger

Leading British nutritionist Patrick Holford's new anti-ageing book The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing hits the shelf this month -- and is expected to follow in the footsteps of his previous health and nutrition bestsellers. Here Holford shares some of the tips revealed in his new age-busting bible -- so prepare to learn how to keep skin young, joints supple, and your libido functioning happily.

Secret 1 Beat the bulge -- prevent diabetes and boost energy

The trick is to keep your blood sugar level even by eating a low glycemic load (GL) diet. That means fewer carbs -- bread, potatoes, pasta, sweets and sugar -- and choosing more slow-releasing ones such as porridge oats and oat cakes instead of cornflakes and toast, wholemeal rather than whitepasta and bread, and always eating carbs with protein. So, egg on toast is okay, but jam on toast is not. Also, choose fruits carefully --berries, cherries, plums and apples are best, with some protein-rich pumpkin seeds, almonds or peanuts.

Secret 2 Stay smart -- and forget about Alzheimer's

Keeping B vitamins high is the secret to keeping your memory sharp. It's also important to eat lots of greens and beans, which are high in folic acid, as well as fish and eggs, which are good sources of B12. The older you get the more likely it is you'll need to take a supplement. Take a high-dose B complex or multivitamin that gives you 10mcg of B12. Higher doses of B12, 500mcg, have been shown to keep homocysteine below 10 (the ideal), and to stop memory loss and age-related brain shrinkage.

Secret 3 Keep your skin youthful

Cut down your sugar intake. Also, drink more water and get enough oily fish, such as kipper, salmon or mackerel, and seeds -- chia seeds are the highest for omega 3. The best anti-ageing nutrient is vitamin A, found in fish as well as carrots, sweet potato and butternut squash. But the real benefit comes from applying a daily, vitamin-A rich cream. Vitamin A also helps protect the skin from sun damage but, on really sunny days you also need and SPF factor, but not for the first 15 minutes when you're making vitamin D.

Vitamin C also helps make collagen which stops wrinkles and keeps the skin tone smooth.

Secret 4 Keep your joints mobile -- and your posture straight

Contrary to popular belief, calcium supplements alone don't stop bone shrinkage. Vitamin D does and the way to get that is from the sun, supplements or salmon. During the winter there is not enough sun intensity so supplementing 25mcg of vitamin D is well worth it.

You can buy vitamin D drops, costing a few cents a day -- but also get out in the sun and expose yourself! You make the most of your vitamin D in the first 15 minutes. You also need resistance exercise, which means bands, weights or pushing against something. We lose half a pound of muscle a year from the age of 40 without it. Pilates and yoga are good too.

Secret 5 Switch off stress -- and sleep for seven hours straight

The two main reasons for lack of sleep are an inability to switch off adrenalin and a lack of melatonin, the brain's sleep chemical. If you find it hard to switch off don't have any caffeinated drink after noon. Pumpkin seeds are high in magnesium, which is relaxing. The amino acid GABA also switches off adrenalin. Try 1,000mg of GABA an hour before bed -- available from health food stores.

Secret 6 Stay free from cancer

Don't smoke or eat lots of deep-fried or burnt food. Plus increase antioxidants with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit. Go for strong colours such as beetroot, broccoli, blueberries, tomatoes. Minimise sugar by eating a low GL diet. Obesity accounts for 20pc of a woman's cancer risk, while smoking accounts for 30pc. Eat plenty of beans and greens -- they help keep oestrogen at a proper level and too much is linked to breast cancer.

Secret 7 Improve your digestion without drugs

If you have indigestion, IBS or bloating, the chances are you are eating something you are intolerant to. Instead of taking antacid drugs get yourself tested for your specific food intolerances. Yorktest.ie have a pinprick blood test. Also, try taking digestive enzymes with probiotics (beneficial bacteria). These help digestion.

Too much alcohol, coffee and wheat are your gut's worst enemies. Eating more whole foods, oats, fresh vegetables and fruits help keep you regular, as does drinking eight glasses of water a day.

Secret 8 Stop your eyesight deteriorating

Too much sugar and a lack of antioxidants age the eyes faster. So does too much computer work. Simple exercises such as 'palming' can help. Place the palms of your hands over your eyes until you see total black. Do this a couple of minutes to give your eyes a break.

Supplementing antioxidants, especially lutein and zeathanthin, found on green leafy vegetables and brightly coloured fruit, may help. Carotenoids in orange-coloured foods are good too. Eat a low GL diet since too much sugar in the blood damages the eyes. Get your eyes checked regularly.

Secret 9 Keep your heart healthy -- and your blood pressure low

Eating a low GL diet keeps both cholesterol and blood pressure low. Having plenty of omega 3s in fish, flax and chia seeds helps. The mineral sodium raises blood pressure, so avoid salt, while magnesium lowers blood pressure. Take a multivitamin that gives at least 150mg of magnesium -- you'll need twice this amount if you have high blood pressure. Keep fit with aerobic exercise. You need at least 15 minutes brisk activity a day.

Secret 10 Discover natural anti-ageing hormones that perk up your libido

Hormones are vital for an active libido so when your levels start dropping in your 50s it's worth considering replacement. Regular HRT doesn't have the same chemical structure as your natural hormones which may account for some of the side effects such as heart problems and cancer. We advise bioidentical hormones. You'll need to find a doctor who specialises in them, who will find a combination that is right for you.

The 10 Secrets of Healthy Ageing: How To Live Longer, Look Younger and Feel Great, by Patrick Holford, published by Piatkus Books, price €8.49.


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