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  • Writer's pictureJen Scheinman

New Research Teaches us How to Add Years to Our Lives with Food

Did you know that eating a healthy diet can literally add years to your life? Last month a landmark research study showed us just how important diet is in helping us live longer. Read on to learn what the researchers discovered about just how strong the link between nutrition and longevity is.

What is the best diet for longevity?

You may be asking yourself, what is the best diet for longevity? Researchers from the University of Bergen, Norway, wanted to know, too.

They analyzed existing meta-analysis studies and data from the Global Burden of Diseases to draw conclusions around diets' impact on life expectancy.

They looked at specific groups of food and their impact on mortality. The food groups they investigated were:

  • Whole grains

  • Refined grains

  • Fruits and veggies

  • Nuts

  • Legumes

  • Eggs

  • Dairy

  • Red meat

  • Processed meat, and

  • Sugar-sweetened beverages.

From this data, they modeled an optimal diet that identified the top foods for longevity. This optimal diet was much higher in whole grains, fruits and veggies, fish, nuts, and legumes when compared to a typical Western diet, which was high in red and processed meats, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages.

Next, they investigated how switching from a Western-style diet to this optimal diet would impact a person's life span.

What the researchers discovered - No matter what your age, you can get benefits from changing your diet

The leading causes of mortality worldwide are:

  • Heart disease

  • Diabetes complications

  • Cancer

All of these diseases are lifestyle-related chronic conditions. Therefore it’s not surprising that switching to a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats would add years to your life.

What is surprising is just how impactful this could be.

The authors concluded that women in their 20s could add over 10 years to their lives by adopting these healthy eating habits!

But it’s not too late if you're past that age.

Women in their 60s could add 8 years to their life expectancy, and women in their 80s could add over 3 years to their life.

The clear takeaway is that it’s never too late to change your diet to reap the health benefits.

What are the best foods for longevity?

While we know that fruits and vegetables are the ultimate health food, this study demonstrated that the largest gains in life span would come from eating more legumes, nuts, and whole grains and eating less red and processed meats.

Taking this into account, here are five of the best foods for longevity:

  1. Walnuts - While all nuts are associated with longevity, walnuts are the nut superstar when it comes to omega-3 fatty acids. People who eat a diet rich in omega 3 fats have a lower risk of several chronic diseases, including heart disease, some forms of cancer, depression, Alzheimer's disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. Walnuts have a significantly higher amount of this type of fat than other nuts.

  2. Olive oil - A 2022 study showed that people who had a higher intake of olive oil had a lower risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, respiratory disease, and neurodegenerative disease. Replace butter, margarine, and oils like soybean, peanut, canola, and vegetable oil with extra virgin olive oil to reap the benefits.

  3. Whole grains - In a world where carbs are feared, this study adds further proof to the fact that carbs from whole grains must be part of a healthy longevity diet. Multiple studies demonstrate that replacing refined grains with whole grains reduces mortality. A few of my favorite grains? Quinoa, sorghum, oats and millet.

  4. Pomegranates - These ruby red fruits are rich in powerful antioxidants and polyphenols that promote longevity. The polyphenols in pomegranates are precursors to Urolithin A, a naturally produced compound that may promote lifespan. Don’t be intimidated by how to eat these delicious fruits. I like getting my hands dirty by cutting off the stem at the top and then slicing the fruit into quarters. Over a bowl, I then peel back the leathery skin, and the seeds (called arils) pop out into the bowl. Next, use a strainer to rinse off any white pith that may be stuck on the seeds. Now your pomegranate is ready to enjoy! You can also reap the benefits by drinking pomegranate juice.

  5. Legumes - Legumes are top of the list when examining the strongest dietary predictors of longevity. Garbanzo beans, lentils, and edamame are some of my favorite legumes to include in the diet.

If you want to take advantage of what you eat to live a longer, healthier life, I can help! As this study showed, making changes now can add years to your life. Let me help! Schedule an appointment today!

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