Nutrition Tips for a Longer and Healthier Life | If you ask any centenarian if they planned to live to 100, they would say no! None of them suddenly at the age of 50 said that they would adopt a longevity diet and live for another 50 years. It’s all about food choices. They typically don’t count calories, calculate protein grams, take vitamins or even read package labels.
They have simply incorporated certain nutritious foods into their regular meals and these foods aren’t the ones you can commonly find in convenience stores or fast-food restaurants. They base their nutrition on family heirloom recipes or developed recipes on their own to prepare healthy foods that taste good.
Here are some guidelines regarding food choices that can help you live healthier and add years to your life.
In general, nutritionists advise limiting the amount of animal protein in your diet to a smaller serving per day in favour of vegetables. Opt for healthy variants such as greens, beans, yams, sweet potatoes, fruits, and seeds and nuts. Also, choose whole grains and whole-grain pastry. Consume meat sparingly on special occasions and celebrations, more as a side dish or something to add flavour.
The best longevity foods consumed in the Blue Zones diet are green leafy veggies such as kale, spinach, collards, chard, and beet and turnip tops. Studies have discovered that people who consumed a cup of cooked greens daily were 50% less likely to die in the next four years as compared to those who ate no greens, and people who consumed around 120 grams of fruit daily have 60% fewer chances of dying in the next four years compared to those who don’t.
The general recommendation is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables to your taste and make sure your kitchen is stocked with them. In case you can’t access fresh, affordable vegetables, frozen ones are perfectly fine.
Experts’ advice is to consume meat only twice a week, or even less, and the serving shouldn’t be more than two ounces cooked. Opt for true free-range and family-farmed chicken, pork or lamb instead of meats mass-produced industrially. Keep away from processed meats like sausages, hot dogs or luncheon meats.
Another recommendation is to try and find plant-based substitutes for the meat. It may be difficult initially, particularly if you’re used to having meat as the central food of your meals, but there are great alternatives now available such as tempeh, lightly sautéed tofu, drizzled with olive oil, or black bean or chickpea cakes.
If you still feel you’re not taking in enough protein, consider using protein powder as additional supplementation to ensure your body gets what it needs on a daily level.
Fish is OK
Fish is another great food you should include in your diet, in the amount of about three ounces per meal. Choose fish that are common and abundant, not the ones threatened by overfishing. Fish contains the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids commonly abbreviated EPA and DHA, which are known to be particularly beneficial for the brain and the heart. Speaking long term, these ingredients can reduce the risk of dementia and heart disease.
Nuts and legumes are excellent
Nuts are a superfood that deserve their own category due to numerous desirable outcomes, offering benefits for heart health, reducing inflammation and mortality. Certain nuts, particularly walnuts, contain abundant amounts of omega-3s, and nuts, in general, have high contents of essential vitamins, fibre and protein.
Legumes such as beans, peas, lentils and peanuts are also a worthy addition to your diet. They contain a high amount of protein and fibre, as well as nutrients like zinc, iron, magnesium and folate. Their regular consumption has been linked to a variety of health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure, lower risks of coronary heart disease and diabetes.
Reduce sugar intake
Centenarians don’t generally eat a lot of sweets, only during celebrations. Their diet doesn’t contain added sugar, and as a sweetener, they use honey. The general recommendation is to avoid foods with added sugar. Check the labels and stay away from those products that have sugar listed among the first five ingredients. Switch to sugar-free coffee and tea and do your best to break the habit of snacking between meals, particularly with sugar-heavy sweets.
Sugar can’t really be avoided fully as it’s naturally found in fruits, vegetables, and milk. But that’s not the genuine problem. The real problem is the sugar added to food during production and this rose by 25% between 1970 and 2000. Excess amounts of sugar suppress the immune system, making it harder for your body to fight diseases. It also raises insulin levels, which can lead to diabetes, weight gain, lower fertility, and even eventually, a shorter life span.
For those with a sweet tooth, there’s still some good news – chocolate! According to research, dark, low-sugar chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa is beneficial to cognition, good heart health and neurological health, which is mostly due to its high levels of polyphenols.
As challenging as it may be, maintaining healthy habits – eating well, exercising regularly, controlling your weight and avoiding sugar, smoking and alcohol – can have a very positive impact on our lives. And the best thing is that it’s never too late to change, but it is best if you start early. If you do adopt them later in your life, you’ll still feel the substantial benefits these changes can bring.