How to Eat Your Way to a Long life
4 August 2020
These days, people around the world are living longer than ever before. On the surface that sounds like amazing news, but a long life requires good nutrition to maintain a happy, high-quality life. After all, what’s the point of living an extra twenty years if you can’t enjoy it?
Consistently eating healthy meals throughout your life will add up big time, enabling you to reap the rewards in your golden years. So what should we eat to ensure we live a long life full of great food and memorable meals? We’ve rounded up some steps you can take to start your journey towards eating for longevity.
Rooting Your Meals in a Plant-Based Diet
Great nutrition is one of the cornerstones of living a long and healthy life. There are many diets out there, but it is generally accepted that plant-based meals offer the most nutritional benefits.
One major Japanese study published in the journal Jama Internal Medicine followed 70,696 adults for 18 years. They found that a higher intake of plant protein was associated with lower total mortality. In fact, substituting plant protein for animal protein (red or processed meats) was associated with lower risks of total, cancer-related, and cardiovascular disease-related mortality.
This doesn’t mean you have to completely stop eating meat. Just reducing or cutting back on animal proteins can make a big difference in your overall health. Try substituting them with plant-based protein sources such as beans or tofu.
Study the Diets of the World’s Longest Living People
he ‘blue zones’ have the largest concentration of centenarians (people 100+ years old) in the world. These areas are also largely free of diseases such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
By studying these zones, researchers have gained great insights into nutritional habits that increase health and longevity. Take a look at the different types of meals people in the blue zones eat and see if you can incorporate them into your nutritional habits.
Top Blue Zone Foods:
1. Ikaria, Greece: Inhabitants of this small Greek island eat a version of the Mediterranean diet and focus on foods like legumes, feta cheese, and goat’s milk.
2. Okinawa, Japan: This laid back Japanese island has one of the highest concentrations of centenarians in the world. They enjoy eating meals with tofu, brown rice, mushrooms, and lots of green tea.
3. Sardinia, Italy: This Italian island is home to the longest living men in the world. Their roots are in shepherd life have led them to eat lots of sheep’s cheese and goat’s milk, along with chickpeas, tomatoes, and almonds.
4. Loma Linda, California: California’s Seventh-Day Adventists are a surprising member of the blue zones club, but for good reason. Their community enjoys feasting on salmon, avocados, beans, and soy milk.
5. Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica: The long-living people in the Nicoya Peninsula enjoy a delicious diet consisting of beans, squash, eggs, and corn. Corn tortillas, in particular, are an excellent source of complex carbs rich in vitamins and minerals. Women in this blue zone soak corn unil it releases niacin, which helps control cholesterol levels.
Fun fact: Did you know that eating one cup of beans daily could add up to four years to your life? Amazing!
Try to Eat Unprocessed Foods Often
Unprocessed foods are a great foundation for healthy diets. Numerous research studies have found that consistently eating ultra-processed foods can cause a shorter lifespan and increased risk of disease.
When snacking, try to choose fresh fruits instead of a bag of chips or soda. Eating an apple with almond butter is a tasty and satiating snack that can keep you full until your next meal. Celery or carrot sticks with a little dip also offer guilt-free snack options.
Cooking more meals at home is also a great way to reduce dependence on processed, overly salty or sweet foods. When eating fast food, our tastebuds eventually get used to tons of salt or sugar and it can take time to get them back to appreciating normal levels of both. Try to make your meals at home instead, and you’ll slowly feel your tastebuds enjoying healthier foods.
When buying packaged or processed food, check the label to see how many ingredients there may be. The fewer number of ingredients, the better!
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