The average life expectancy in the United States is 78.8 years, but you could beat the odds depending on what you eat. Experts agree that genetics and lifestyle help to determine how long you’ll live, and diet plays a major role.
Take some Pacific Islanders or Seventh Day Adventists for example. Cultures with Mediterranean or plant-based diets tend to have more centenarians and lower rates of heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia, and other conditions.
If you’d like to celebrate your 100th birthday or just work at feeling more lively for however many years you have left, take a look at what’s on your plate. Study these suggestions for eating for longevity.
Food Choices to Help Increase Longevity
- Consume more vegetables and fruits. The mainstay of a healthy diet is loading up on vegetables and fruits because they’re usually high in nutrients and low in calories. Aim for 5 to 10 servings each day.
- Eat less meat. Many centenarians eat little or no meat. When they do, it’s usually limited to portions of about 3 to 4 ounces once a week.
- Avoid sugar. Added sugar goes by many names but they all add up to empty calories and increased triglycerides. Try cutting back gradually and switching to healthier treats like fruit and nuts.
- Go fish. Despite warnings about the safety of seafood, the FDA and other sources say that the benefits of eating fish outweigh any potential disadvantages. Most adults are advised to eat fish at least twice a week.
- Try tofu. Soy products are another form of lean protein. You can find soymilk, tofu, and tempeh in most supermarkets now.
- Count beans. Beans deserve more respect. They’re cheap, versatile, and very popular with centenarians. If you think you dislike their taste, experiment with new recipes or visit a well-regarded vegetarian restaurant.
- Build up your bones. It’s natural to lose muscle and bone mass as we age, but the foods you eat can slow down the process. In addition to lean proteins, eat foods rich in calcium and vitamin D, like dairy products and fortified cereal.
Other Choices to Help Increase Longevity
- Develop support. Good food deserves to be shared. Create a sense of community by eating together with family and friends. Enjoy small talk and profound conversations.
- Take naps. Rest between meals. If you’re unable to sleep enough at night, take a 30-minute nap during the day.
- Limit alcohol. Moderate drinkers tend to be healthier. Experts recommend up to one drink a day for women and two for men.
- Control portions. Your body burns calories more slowly as you grow older, so adjust your portions accordingly. Age-related weight gain is common, but not inevitable if you deliberately eat less.
- Stay active. Many centenarians have never had a gym membership, but they incorporate physical activity into their daily routines. Leave your car in the garage so you can walk and bike more. Start a vegetable garden or do household and yard chores manually, like hanging clothes out to dry and cutting grass with a push mower.
- Find your purpose. It’s easier to manage stress when you feel fulfilled on a deeper level. Explore your spiritual side and engage in meaningful work at the office or on your own time. Cultivate a sense of gratitude and generosity.
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 long, healthy life.
Your diet is one key to enjoying a longer, happier, and healthier life. Focusing on whole foods, in addition to spiritual and social connections, can help you stay fit, and maybe even extend your lifespan.