What we put in our bodies affects everything from the size of our waistlines to the condition of our hearts and yes, even how long we live! According to the largest ever study on longevity, Havard’s Grant & Glueck studies show that making it to old age healthily and happily requires a number of key lifestyle habits. These include: not smoking, having an active social life, getting plenty of exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and eating the right foods. Although you need to manage all of these habits at once to reap the longevity benefits, there’s no denying that what you eat plays a significant role and not just with regards to your waistline. Here are a few simple diet tips to follow:
1. Get 95% of your food from plants
A healthy plant-based meal should consist of proper portions of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy protein, and healthy oils. The types of plants and their sources are also important. For example, white rice and white bread are plant-based foods, so you would think they’re good to eat. But they are highly processed, and so are depleted of many of their heart-healthy nutrients. They also register high on the glycemic index, which means they can make blood sugar levels spike and increase hunger, leading to overeating.
Drinking 100% fruit juice is also not the same as eating the whole fruit, since juices can be high in sugar and contain less of the valuable fibre and vitamins found in their natural state. Alongside this, many canned plants include extra additives such as sodium and sugar.
2. Consume meat no more than twice a week
Research suggests that higher consumption of red and processed meats increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer. People on low-meat or vegetarian diets have significantly lower body weights and body mass indices. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Switching patients to a plant-based diet has been shown to treat not only heart disease but also reverse its progression.
3. Eat fish at least twice a week
Fish is a high-protein, low-fat food that provides a range of health benefits. White-fleshed fish, in particular, is lower in fat than any other source of animal protein, and oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids or the “good” fats. Since the human body can’t make significant amounts of these essential nutrients, fish are an important part of the diet. Also, fish are low in the “bad” fats (omega-6 fatty acids) commonly found in red meat. However, fish may also contain mercury and other contaminants that may have risks for health. Mercury may have subtle effects on the developing nervous systems of infants. Therefore, pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, those who are breastfeeding, and very young children should avoid the following 4 types of fish that are higher in mercury content: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and golden bass. Other fish should still be consumed to ensure that infants receive the benefits of DHA for brain development. Light tuna has relatively low levels of mercury, and other fish, such as wild and farmed salmon and shrimp, contain very low levels of mercury.
4. Reduce your sugar consumption
Men should eat no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day and women no more than 6.
Chocolate bars, sweet cereals, and soda often contain high levels of added sugar.
Fruits contain natural sugars that are less harmful than the sugar found in processed food.
5. Increase your water intake
When you find yourself feeling sluggish and a little foggy-headed during your workday, it’s often because you’re a bit dehydrated. Dehydration can impair your cognitive function and is a major productivity killer. Aside from keeping our brains powered up, we need water to regulate our body temperature, lubricate the joints and cushion our organs. Ever notice how when you stop and drink a glass of water, though, you perk up like a flower?
6. When you drink alcohol, let it be red wine
Small amounts of red wine are linked to more health benefits than any other alcoholic beverage. If you like drinking red wine, there is no need to worry unless you are exceeding the recommended amount.
In Europe and America, moderate red wine consumption is considered to be:
1–1.5 glasses a day for women.
1–2 glasses a day for men.
And remember, moderation is the key!
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