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Support “Pro-aging” with phytochemicals

Many people start the year with a renewed resolve to look and feel younger. Not surprisingly, companies market a wide variety of “anti-aging” products and protocols in such a way to enhance our desire for a youthful and healthy appearance.

However, there is a competing school of thought where the goal is not to stop or reverse the aging process, but to embrace the challenges of senescence with a goal of maximizing the quality of each year of age. This “pro-aging” mindset is a dramatic shift from the “anti-aging” culture, but it is a mindset that is gaining traction and getting attention.  

Those who have adopted a pro-aging mindset concentrate on how to maximize their current age to be able to do the things they want to do; accepting their age and feeling good about their health. Proponents of this approach suggest, our goal should not be to slow the passage of time, but to minimize damage to our health from environmental factors including poor diet, lack of movement, and regular exposure to harmful substances.1

How do phytochemicals factor into the aging process? Researchers have found that phytochemicals ingested and sometimes applied to the skin can improve the body’s reaction to oxidizing damage caused by inflammatory foods and pollution.2

There is no food that is a “magic bullet” for diabetes, skin cancer, or weight loss, but, incorporating more components of the Mediterranean style diet and increasing the number of targeted phytochemicals in your diet CAN improve the way your body handles the physiologic changes of aging and disease. We can support the biochemical reactions that are allowing our body to function by providing the raw materials that will help the reactions take place at the right speed and with as little poisonous byproduct as possible.

Healthspan: A Paradigm Shift?

If lifespan is the length of a person’s life, then “heathspan” is the length of time during one’s life that is “spent in good health, free from the chronic diseases and disabilities of aging.”3 Some scientists are hesitant to begin incorporating the term “healthspan” into common use in scientific literature because it does not have a quantifiable definition.However, it is a word that can be used to help differentiate between a healthy life length vs a span of life that has much decreased quality due to diminished health.

As you see patients in the coming year, I hope that you will consider their healthspan; and allow time to discuss the positive impact phytochemicals from fruits and vegetables can have on the human body.


1. Kaeberlein, M. (2018). How healthy is the healthspan concept? Geroscience, 40(4), 361-364.

2. Rattan, S. I., & Kaur, G. (2022). Nutrition, Food and Diet in Health and Longevity: We Eat What We Are. Nutrients, 14(24), 5376.

3. Woodby, B., Penta, K., Pecorelli, A., Lila, M. A., & Valacchi, G. (2020). Skin Health from the Inside Out. Annual review of food science and technology, 11, 235–254.

This article was part of the January 2023 e-news FRESH Rx. Subscribe for similar content delivered to your inbox monthly.