If you feel as though you may be ageing faster than your parents, you could be right. It’s possible your ‘healthy’ diet is not packed with as many vitamins and minerals which decades ago occurred naturally in the food chain. The soils that grew the fruit and vegetables eaten by previous generations were more naturally fertile.
Sadly, today’s farming practices have stripped many essential minerals and other goodies from the earth. Consequently, the plants on your plate are devoid of some nutrients your body needs to function optimally and to stave off the ravages of ageing.
Certainly, today’s fresh produce looks great, blemish and pest-free, and comes in whopper sizes. However, the quest by supermarkets, farmers and chemical companies to tick those boxes has interfered with plants’ abilities to extract enough nutrients from the mediums in which they grow. That was the conclusion of Professor Donald Davis and his University of Texas research team, which compared data from 1950 and 1999 on 43 different fruits and vegetables.
“Efforts to breed new varieties of crops that provide greater yield, pest resistance and climate adaptability have allowed crops to grow bigger and more rapidly,” said Prof. Davis.
“But their ability to manufacture or uptake nutrients has not kept pace with their rapid growth.”
He also told Scientific American that there have likely been declines in nutrients, such as magnesium, among others.
So why is having adequate magnesium – 320mg a day for older women and 420mg for older men – essential to diets? Among the many reasons is that it wards off those diseases more likely to be associated with ageing – diabetes, high blood pressure and osteoporosis.
Older Australians, alcoholics and those who already suffer from diabetes are most likely to be deficient in the mineral. Consuming enough magnesium can control inflammation in your body, protecting you against heart disease and arthritis. The nutrient is also understood to keep blood vessels from tightening, helping to reduce the incidence of migraines.
The foods listed here are believed to contain generous amounts of magnesium.
- avocado, kale, Swiss chard and spinach
- almonds, cashews, pecans and peanuts
- seeds from pumpkins, sunflowers and flax
- wholegrains, cooked oats and rice
- chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, lentils and soy products.
Many people with a magnesium deficiency may not have symptoms. Others who are more sensitive can develop tremors, disturbed sleep, muscle cramps and fatigue. If you suffer from these conditions, despite eating a balanced diet that includes foods from the above list, you may wish to ask your doctor if they recommend a blood test to measure your magnesium levels.
If your levels are low, your doctor may suggest taking supplements or applying creams, which are available over the counter.
Have you ever had your magnesium levels tested? Do you need to supplement your diet with vitamins? Has taking mineral supplements helped to improve your health?