As people are living longer than ever, there is a growing interest in finding out what contributes to increased longevity. What are people doing that they are not only living to 100 and beyond, but living in good health? That is the real key. Who wants to live a long life plagued by health problems and ever-increasing deterioration? That doesn't sound very fun at all. Not surprisingly, many studies looking at large populations have found diet to be a linchpin in promoting longevity. It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Food is the fuel our body uses to perform its various functions, and the more we feed it what it truly needs for optimal performance, the better off it is. This is something we know but really don't know..if we did, it would probably be a lot easier to make healthy food choices. And the key is educating ourselves about how to be better stewards of our health. Here are some nutrition tips that have been linked with a longer, healthier life.
Keep Inflammation at Bay
Inflammation actually serves a positive purpose in the body. It lets our body know something is wrong, and the immune system can dispatch its variety of cells to come and save the day. But, when inflammation becomes chronic, it can lead to all sorts of problems, and has been noted as a major contributing factor to a host of life-shortening diseases, namely cancer and heart disease. Do you know one of the most effective ways to control inflammation is through diet? There are foods that trigger inflammation and those that quell it. This one change to your diet can have huge implications. So, what is an anti-inflammatory diet? Foods to include are those rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as cold-water fish, walnuts, flax seed and hemp seed. Many food are fortified with omega-3 nowadays, such as cereals, which can increase your intake. Though it is best to focus on foods that naturally contain these fats. Monounsaturated fats are also great for you, and are abundant in nuts, seeds, avocados and olive oil. Eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables—they are rich in antioxidants, substances that are very powerful for quelling inflammation. Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices include turmeric, cinnamon Keep saturated fats and trans fats at bay. Refined carbohydrates cause large spikes in insulin, which in turn trigger an inflammatory response. Minimize consumption of omega-6 fatty acids—they are actually healthy but cause inflammation when consumed in high doses, which is typical in the average diet. They are found in oils such as canola, corn, soybean, mixed vegetable, sunflower and safflower.
Eat the Mediterranean Way
A few years back, the Mediterranean diet really made a splash. While a lot of the hoopla may have died down, the attention was well-deserved. Many studies have linked this way of eating with a longer life, and reduced risk of countless diseases. Many populations that have been noted for longevity live along the Mediterranean coast, and diet choices seem to be a common thread. A more recent study, published in 2014, which tracked the diet of over 4700 nurses, appears to add greater understanding of how exactly this diet benefits health and longevity. The women who ate a Mediterranean-style diet had different cell structure—namely longer telomeres, which are bits of DNA found at the end of chromosomes. Each time a cell divides, they get smaller, and previous research suggests shorter telomeres are linked with decreased lifespan. Telomeres are crucial to health in that they help protect chromosomes from deterioration, which sets the stage for disease. This effect was seen even after controlling for other factors that affect lifespan such as activity level and smoking status. The Mediterranean diet is rich in healthy fats found in fish, nuts and olive oil, fruits and vegetables, healthy grains, and protein-rich beans and legumes.
While many studies have found that long-term calorie restriction has been linked to a longer lifespan, it may be impractical for the average person to follow. One alternative may be intermittent fasting, where you go longer periods without food, while generally eating the same amount of calories. The idea is we were built for periods of feast or famine, and our frequent eating interferes with the body's natural process of rest and repair. According to physician and natural health expert Dr. Joseph Mercola, intermittent fasting may offer benefits such as normalizing appetite hormones, reversing insulin resistance, increase production of human growth hormone, lowering triglycerides,and reducing oxidative stress. There are three main kinds of intermittent fasting. The first is restricting your food intake to an eight-hour window, and fasting for 16 daily. The second is eating normally five days a week, and restricting calories two non-consecutive days to 500 or 600 calories for women and men respectively. The third option is eating normally one day and fasting the next, with similar calorie restrictions just mentioned, though this method is usually recommended for jump starting weight loss and may not be as strictly followed once weight is normalized. While there is no one magic bullet, and proper nutrition is just one piece of the puzzle, it is a primary one, and healthier food choices can go a long way in promoting a longer and healthier life.
Article Resources: www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303612804577531092453590070 time.com/3614678/mediterranean-diet-longevity/ articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2014/06/14/intermittent-fasting-longevity.aspx