The Longevity Diet: What to Eat So You Live Longer and Healthier
The 5 eating habits that can extend your life, according to a nutritionist.
Everyone wants to live a longer life. But the goal of longevity is also to live a better life, with improved mental and physical wellness, and the ability to be active and independent. In my years as a registered dietitian, I’ve seen plenty of people in their 70s, 80s, and beyond who are healthier than folks half their age.
While genetics do play a role, lifestyle is a much more significant factor, and nutrition is a big piece of the puzzle. Here are five eating habits to adopt to up your chances of extending your life and enjoying each year with vigor.
Eat your veggies and fruit.
I know you hear this one a lot, but eating more produce is truly one of the most important and impactful habits you can adopt. And guess what: most Americans are way off the mark. According to the CDC, only one in 10 adults eats enough veggies and fruit. Just 9% hit the recommended two to three daily cups of veggies, and 12% reach the daily target of one-and-a-half to 2 cups of fruit.
In addition to upping your nutrient intake, reaching those minimums may add years to your life. A meta-analysis published in the British Medical Journal found that a higher consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of mortality from all causes, especially heart disease. Aim for at least five servings a day. More is fine, but in some research the risk of death did not reduce further beyond this amount.
Build in two cups of fruit and three cups of veggies daily, with one cup being about the size of a tennis ball. Get into a routine of building a cup of fruit into every breakfast, and a second as part of a daily snack. Incorporate one cup of veggies at lunch and two at dinner. Or combine them. A smoothie made with a handful of greens and a cup of frozen berries knocks out two. You can also add fresh fruit, like sliced apples or chopped mango, to entree salads and stir-fry recipes.
Go nuts for nuts (and nut butters).
Nuts are nutrition powerhouses. They provide healthful fat, plant protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and key minerals, like potassium and magnesium. It’s no wonder they’re linked to life extension. One study that tracked over 7,000 men and women for nearly five years asked the subjects to follow one of three diets: a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts, the same diet supplemented with olive oil instead, or a low fat diet. Compared to non-nut eaters, those who consumed more than three one-ounce servings of nuts per week had a 39% lower overall mortality risk. In fact, over the course of the study, the nut eaters had the lowest total death risk.
An ounce of nuts is about a quarter cup, but two tablespoons of nut butter also counts as a serving. Whip nut butter into your smoothie, stir into oatmeal, or use as a dip for fresh fruit or celery. Add nuts to salads, cooked veggies, and stir-fry recipes, or pop them as is. Crushed nuts also make a great alternative to bread crumbs to coat fish or garnish dishes like mashed cauliflower or lentil soup. Baking with nut flours or using them in pancakes is another great way to up your intake.
RELATED: The Healthiest Nuts for Your Body
Eat more meat-free meals.
Meatless Mondays have been a thing for over 15 years. That’s fantastic, but for longevity, you should build plant-based meals into your eating routine more than one day a week.
Researchers have discovered five areas in the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives. Deemed Blue Zones, these regions are found in very diverse areas, from Okinawa, Japan to Ikaria, Greece. One commonality they share is the consumption of primarily plant-based diets. Beans and lentils are cornerstones, and meat is eaten on average about five times per month in three- to four-ounce portions—about the size of a deck of cards.
The only Blue Zone in the US is in Loma Linda, California, which has the highest concentration of Seventh Day Adventists. This population, known for their primarily plant-based diet, lives 10 years longer than their North American counterparts. One study that looked at over 73,000 Seventh Day Adventist men and women found that compared to omnivores, those who stuck with a vegetarian diet had a significantly lower overall mortality risk. This included vegans, lacto-ovo vegetarians (who do eat dairy and eggs), and pesco-vegetarians (who do eat seafood).
To reap the benefits, swap the meat in meals for pulses, the umbrella term for beans, lentils, peas, and chickpeas. Opt for lentil or black bean soup on the side instead of adding chicken to a salad. Use black-eyed peas in a stir fry in place of meat, and snack on veggies with hummus instead of jerky. Explore ethnic restaurants in your area that offer pulse-based dishes, like Indian chickpea curry and Ethiopian lentil stew.
Eat like a Mediterranean
When it comes to longevity, it’s the overall eating pattern, rather than one food or food group, that’s key—and a Mediterranean diet remains the gold standard for living longer and more healthfully. This pattern is characterized by a high intake of fruits and vegetables; whole grains; pulses; healthful fats from nuts, olive oil, and avocado; and herbs and spices, along with seafood a few times a week; a moderate consumption of dairy, eggs, and wine; and a limited intake of meat and sweets.
One measure of longevity often cited in research is telomere length. In a nutshell, telomeres are caps found at the ends of chromosomes that protect DNA. When they become too short, a cell becomes old or dysfunctional. This is why shorter telomeres are associated with a lower life expectancy and an increased risk of developing chronic diseases. Research has shown that a greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet is linked to longevity through maintaining longer telomere length.
Other research has shown that for each one-point increment in the Mediterranean diet score (which measures adherence to the diet), the risk of death from any cause drops by 4-7%. To Mediterranean-ize your meals, replace butter with nut butter or avocado on toast, and trade it for extra virgin olive oil to sauté vegetables. Snack on fresh fruit with nuts, olives, or roasted chickpeas, and keep meals simple. A balanced Med-diet dinner may consist of fish served over a bed of greens tossed in extra virgin olive oil with a side of roasted potatoes or quinoa and a glass of pinot noir.
RELATED: Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth
Sip green tea.
I like to refer to green tea as preventative medicine in a mug. Numerous studies have linked it to a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and obesity. It can also help you live longer. In one study of older Japanese adults, those who drank the most green tea—seven or more cups a day—were 76% less likely to die during the six-year study period. Another found that among over 40,000 Japanese adults followed for up to 11 years, women who drank at least five cups of green tea a day had a 23% lower risk of death from any cause.
In addition to sipping, you can use green tea as the liquid in smoothies, oatmeal, or overnight oats, or to steam veggies or whole grain rice. It can also be incorporated into soups, stews, sauces, and marinades. Matcha, a powdered form of green tea, can also be used in beverages and recipes. Just be sure to cut off all caffeine at least six hours before bedtime so you won’t disrupt your sleep length or quality.
As far as what not to do, it’s the usual suspects. Don’t overeat or consume too much sugar, processed foods, meat, or alcohol. The good news is that the protective foods above can easily displace aging-inducing foods. Reach for an apple with almond butter in place of processed cookies, and replace soda with green tea. In other words, focus on what to eat, and you’ll naturally curb your intake of foods to avoid. That’s important because for longevity, consistency is key. A long-haul diet supports a long, healthy life! Article can be found online by clicking Health.com.
Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, is Health’s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling author, and a nutrition consultant for the New York Yankees.
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An apple a day keeps aging at bay because chemical in the peel prevents muscle wasting, new research finds
- Scientists have found chemical in apple peel can prevent muscle wastage
- Muscle wastage in old age is usually caused by a protein called ATF4
- It changes formation of genes, starving muscles of the proteins they need
- Researchers found chemical in apple peel and green tomatoes prevent this
A waxy substance found in apple peels may promote muscle growth and the prevent muscle wasting that is a hallmark of aging, fasting or illness, a new study in mice suggests.
Mice given the compound, called ursolic acid, became leaner and had lower blood levels of glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides. The findings therefore suggest that ursolic acid may be responsible for some of the overall benefits of healthy eating, the study said.
Further, the results suggest the compound is a promising drug candidate to treat muscle wasting, the researchers said. Currently, there are no drugs for the condition.
More studies need to be done to determine whether the findings translate to humans. In addition, the researchers aren’t sure whether ursolic acid consumed through the diet may be enough to have the effects seen in the study.
Muscle wasting, or atrophy, is loss of muscle tissue. Such atrophy can result from a lack of physical exercise (for example, when someone is bedridden due to illness). Certain diseases, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which affect the nerves that control muscle, can also cause muscle atrophy.
“Muscle wasting is a frequent companion of illness and aging,” said study researcher Dr. Christopher Adams, an endocrinologist at the University of Iowa. “It prolongs hospitalization, delays recoveries and in some cases, prevents people from going back home,” Adams said.
Adams and his colleagues examined which genes in muscle cells were turned on and off as a result of the fasting, and identified ursolic acid as a compound that would counteract these genetic changes.
They also fed ursolic acid to mice that were fasting and found the compound protected against muscle weakening. In healthy mice, it promoted muscle growth.
The researchers hope to test the compound in trials with people.
The study was funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the American Diabetes Association and the University of Iowa Research Foundation, among others.
The findings are published in the June issue of the journal Cell Metabolism. Article taken from NBCNews.com.
Extra-virgin olive oil preserves memory, protects brain against Alzheimer’s
The Mediterranean diet, rich in plant-based foods, is associated with a variety of health benefits, including a lower incidence of dementia. Now, researchers at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University (LKSOM) have identified a specific ingredient that protects against cognitive decline: extra-virgin olive oil, a major component of the Mediterranean diet. In a study published online June 21 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology, the researchers show that the consumption of extra-virgin olive oil protects memory and learning ability and reduces the formation of amyloid-beta plaques and neurofibrillary tangles in the brain — classic markers of Alzheimer’s disease.
The Temple team also identified the mechanisms underlying the protective effects of extra-virgin olive oil. “We found that olive oil reduces brain inflammation but most importantly activates a process known as autophagy,” explained senior investigator Domenico Praticò, MD, Professor in the Departments of Pharmacology and Microbiology and the Center for Translational Medicine at LKSOM. Autophagy is the process by which cells break down and clear out intracellular debris and toxins, such as amyloid plaques and tau tangles.
“Brain cells from mice fed diets enriched with extra-virgin olive oil had higher levels of autophagy and reduced levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau,” Dr. Praticò said. The latter substance, phosphorylated tau, is responsible for neurofibrillary tangles, which are suspected of contributing to the nerve cell dysfunction in the brain that is responsible for Alzheimer’s memory symptoms.
Previous studies have suggested that the widespread use of extra-virgin olive oil in the diets of people living in the Mediterranean areas is largely responsible for the many health benefits linked to the Mediterranean diet. “The thinking is that extra-virgin olive oil is better than fruits and vegetables alone, and as a monounsaturated vegetable fat it is healthier than saturated animal fats,” according to Dr. Praticò.
In order to investigate the relationship between extra-virgin olive oil and dementia, Dr. Praticò and colleagues used a well-established Alzheimer’s disease mouse model. Known as a triple transgenic model, the animals develop three key characteristics of the disease: memory impairment, amyloid plagues, and neurofibrillary tangles.
The researchers divided the animals into two groups, one that received a chow diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil and one that received the regular chow diet without it. The olive oil was introduced into the diet when the mice were six months old, before symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease begin to emerge in the animal model.
In overall appearance, there was no difference between the two groups of animals. However, at age 9 months and 12 months, mice on the extra virgin olive oil-enriched diet performed significantly better on tests designed to evaluate working memory, spatial memory, and learning abilities.
Studies of brain tissue from both groups of mice revealed dramatic differences in nerve cell appearance and function.
“One thing that stood out immediately was synaptic integrity,” Dr. Praticò said. The integrity of the connections between neurons, known as synapses, were preserved in animals on the extra-virgin olive oil diet. In addition, compared to mice on a regular diet, brain cells from animals in the olive oil group showed a dramatic increase in nerve cell autophagy activation, which was ultimately responsible for the reduction in levels of amyloid plaques and phosphorylated tau.
“This is an exciting finding for us,” explained Dr. Praticò. “Thanks to the autophagy activation, memory and synaptic integrity were preserved, and the pathological effects in animals otherwise destined to develop Alzheimer’s disease were significantly reduced. This is a very important discovery, since we suspect that a reduction in autophagy marks the beginning of Alzheimer’s disease.”
Dr. Praticò and colleagues plan next to investigate the effects of introducing extra-virgin olive oil into the diet of the same mice at 12 months of age, when they have already developed plaques and tangles. “Usually when a patient sees a doctor for suspected symptoms of dementia, the disease is already present,” Dr. Praticò added. “We want to know whether olive oil added at a later time point in the diet can stop or reverse the disease.”
Article can be found at Sciencedaily.com.
15 Best Anti-Aging Foods for Healthier Skin and a Longer Life.
Skin health and life expectancy begins and ends with your DIET. These anti-aging foods are great for improving your skin and living a longer life.
Aging happens from the inside out, so your skin is a dead giveaway. Skin often reflects what’s going on internally with your cells and DNA.
That’s because it’s the largest organ on the body!
Damage from free radicals leads not only to wrinkles, loss of plumpness and age spots but also diseases associated with the elderly, like dementia, degenerative eye disease, diabetes, and atherosclerosis, according to this study.
Most anti-aging foods contain antioxidants, compounds that fight free radicals.
This review provides a comprehensive list of the nutrients to look for in anti-aging foods. Some of them include:
- Vitamin C – Potent antioxidant. Stabilizes the structure of collagen, resulting in firmer skin.
- Vitamin E – Works well in combination with vitamin C to protect against fat oxidation and collagen destruction, both of which lead to signs of aging skin.
- Polyphenols – Protect the skin from UV-induced damage, including skin cancer. These include flavonoids and the botanical antioxidants resveratrol, curcumin and green tea polyphenols
- Carotenoids – Vitamin A variations including beta-carotene, astaxanthin, retinol, and lycopene. Protect against UV damage, including sunburn. A long-term study performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that eating high levels of vitamin A reduced the risk of dying by almost 40%.
- Vitamin D – Has been shown to prevent skin cancer and have anti-aging effects.
Here are some of the best anti-aging foods filled with antioxidants:
One pomegranate contains 28 mg of vitamin C. That’s almost half of your daily vitamin C needs.
The ellagic acid and punicalagin in the seeds are also great for your skin. Ellagic acid helps combat damage caused by free radicals, and punicalagin may help your body create collagen.
Eating a raw pomegranate doesn’t have to be daunting. Roll the fruit around on a hard surface to loosen the seeds.
Cut it in half, then apply pressure to the outside of the fruit, using your fingers or a fork to remove the seeds. Drop the seeds into a bowl of water, and the white membranes of the fruit will float to the surface, leaving behind the juicy, nutrient-packed seeds.
Often labeled a superfood, blueberries contain a lot of antioxidants in their small packages. The antioxidants can protect your skin from the free radicals that can harm your DNA and cause skin damage from the inside out.
You can prevent damage to the structure of your cells by eating a cup a day. This will help prevent wrinkles, sun spots, and sagging skin.
The thin skin also makes it easy for these little babies to absorb chemicals and pesticides, so go for organic when possible. Pro tip: It’s usually cheaper to buy them frozen!
Green, leafy vegetables, like kale and spinach, contain phytonutrients that work as antioxidants. The beta-carotene in spinach also protects against photo-aging that’s caused by lifelong sun exposure, according to this study.
Spinach and kale are also high in Vitamin C, so make sure to get a good amount in during the winter months when colds and the flu are going around. You can eat them raw, put them in smoothies, or cook them up with dinner!
4. Fatty Fish
Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as wild salmon, help the skin cells maintain the barrier they need to hold onto moisture.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been used to treat skin conditions like acne and psoriasis. They can also help lower the risk of diseases that are associated with aging, such as diabetes and arthritis.
Try to stick to wild Alaskan salmon if possible, because it contains more nutrients and health properties than farm-raised.
I also read an article by the Seattle Times recently on how farm-raised salmon is being shipped to China to be de-boned and processed because it’s cheaper than doing it in the U.S.
So not only did it put thousands of Americans out of jobs, but the salmon is actually thawed to a temperature that allows it to be processed and is then re-frozen and shipped back to the U.S. This entire process takes about two months. Fresh fish, huh? No, thank you.
If you can’t get enough salmon into your diet (wild Alaskan salmon is expensive, I totally get it), try a good fish oil supplement to make sure that you get in your Omega-3s.
Turmeric contains curcumin, which has been found to protect against photo-aging and inflammation. It also has anti-cancer characteristics.
If you’re not a fan of curries, which often contain turmeric, you can drink turmeric tea. Just brew some herbal tea and add turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and coconut milk (if desired).
6. Green Tea
The catechins in green tea can help prevent the dark spots that come from sun exposure. The polyphenols in green tea work their antioxidant magic on your whole system.
An added bonus is that green tea can help you lose weight, which can become more challenging to do as you age.
If you really want a MAJOR boost for your skin, try giving matcha green tea a try!
It contains 10x the amount of antioxidants as one cup of green tea! I personally have it every morning with a little bit of coconut milk and cinnamon! Just make sure that it comes from Japan where it is grown, not China! I use this brand, which is both tasty and affordable!
Surprisingly, ½ cup of parsley contains almost all of your daily requirements of vitamin C. Parsley is refreshing when added to a salad or smoothie.
Parsley is also high in iron, vitamin K, and also known for its protection against rheumatoid arthritis.
8. Egg Yolks
A rich source of vitamin D, vitamin A and antioxidants, egg yolks are nourishing for your body.
Eggs have even been found to effectively and impressively heal wounded or burned skin without leaving scars.
They also contain a ton of healthy fats that the body needs! Egg yolks were once demonized for containing the bad kinds of fats, and fitness professionals and gurus obsessed with protein from egg whites further solidified this negative stigma. The information was based on old, poorly conducted studies which have since been debunked! So start eating those yolks!
This summery treat is rich in vitamin C. It also contains potassium and lycopene, which help the body balance its moisture content and allow the cells to be optimally nourished.
The antioxidant, lycopene, also has powerful effects on preventing certain types of cancer.
Watermelon is also full of water, hence its name, so eating a serving will help keep you hydrated and contribute to your overall water intake for the day!
10/ Coconut Oil
Coconut oil can be used topically or internally for its anti-aging benefits. It’s also anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-viral.
If you use it instead of a moisturizer that’s loaded with chemicals, you can nourish your skin, protect it from yeast and bacterial overgrowth and avoid added toxins.
Coconut oil encourages collagen production and promotes the growth of blood vessels near cuts and wounds.
The consumption of coconut oil results in the formation of ketones in the brain. This can protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
11. Olive Oil
Olive oil contains omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols.
According to the Global Healing Center, olive oil can be used topically to moisturize, and its antioxidants protect the skin. It can help exfoliate dead skin cells and doesn’t clog pores.
Life Extension explains that olive oil can reduce your risk of many diseases and help you live longer.
12. Fermented Foods
Fermented foods contain probiotics, friendly bacteria that can colonize your colon. Not only do probiotics help balance out the bad bacteria in your intestines, but they can also help cleanse your body of toxins and improve your immunity.
According to Body Ecology, probiotics help prevent wrinkles. They also allow your body to optimize the absorption of nutrients from your diet, which provides your skin with the compounds it needs to glow from within.
Some yogurts contain live cultures. You can also get probiotics from raw, cultured sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and miso.
A good probiotic supplement will also go a long way towards healing your gut health and keeping it healthy!
No matter what supplement you use, you want to take AT LEAST 50 billion units of probiotics daily from a minimum of 10 different sources for best results.
While you don’t need to purchase only refrigerated probiotics, make sure the packaging is well sealed. It’s also essential that the packaging is dark (or opaque, not transparent) to protect from light damage.
We have our own brand of Probiotics here at Avocadu called Gut-14.
Our specially formulated probiotic supplement contains:
- Over 100 Million CFU’s Per Serving
- 14 Different Gut Healing Strains
- Delayed Release for Deeper Support
- Made in the USA
Probiotics are one of the best solutions for healing your gut, helping you lose weight faster, and providing you with a healthy source of gut flora every day!
You can read more about it and why it’s so important for not only gut health but overall health on our probiotics page.
13. Raw Cacao
Raw cacao contains resveratrol, a very powerful antioxidant, and anandamide. Anandamide makes you feel blissful, which is one of the reasons why so many people love chocolate.
When people say that dark chocolate is good for you, they’re talking about the cacao IN dark chocolate is good for you.
If you buy the chocolate, make sure that it’s at least 75-80% cacao. The higher, the better.
If you want to take it a healthier step further, buy 100% cacao powder! You can add it to smoothies, yogurt, and milk to make hot chocolate.
14. Sweet Potatoes
Classified as a tuber, sweet potatoes bridge the gap between being a healthy starch and a vegetable.
They are a staple in the Japanese diet. In the Okinawan Centenarian Study, researcher Bradley Wilcoxx M.D. attributed the long life of the participants in part to sweet potatoes.
Sweet potatoes are rich in carotenoids. They contain 400% of your daily vitamin A requirements. They are also high in vitamins C and D.
You were waiting for this one, weren’t you? The resveratrol in red wine has anti-aging benefits.
Many studies have also linked moderate alcohol consumption with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, age-related memory problems, and diabetes.
Now don’t let this justify your daily wine habit… Don’t be fooled by people telling you that red wine is “healthy.” Alcohol is very dehydrating to the body and the skin.
If we’re being honest, you can get the same antioxidants from FAR better sources (green tea), and skip the alcohol altogether.
But what fun would that be, right!?
We personally love red wine, but we do try limit it to once or twice a week as a treat to wind down from the work week and relax!
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Article taken from Avocadu.com.