People often ask us about nutrition for longevity. The questions usually centre around which foods to eat to help them live longer. Or sometimes, which foods not to eat! It’s great to be aware of the role nutrition can play in health and vitality, as it can be a huge determining factor in how long you live (genetics aside, of course!) The thing is though, it’s not so much about specific “magic” foods, as incorporating some broader fundamental principles into your diet and lifestyle over the long term.
Watch my video, or keep reading below, to find out some of the key nutritional changes you can make starting today, to help you adapt your lifestyle and diet to help you live longer. Changes like ensuring we have good gut health, ensuring we’re eating for our immunity; looking at the Mediterranean Diet; as well as paying attention to sleep and exercise. You’ll see that much more than just food, nutrition for longevity should be a lifestyle change. That way, the principles stick and we can sustain them.
1. Nutrition for longevity starts in the gut.
One of the most important things you can do for longevity, is to establish good gut health. Why is that? Well, we want our body to digest our food and therefore absorb our nutrients. We could be having the most beautiful diet in the world, but if our machine – aka our gut, is not absorbing or digesting our foods properly, we’re not reaping the benefits. We won’t be absorbing all the goodness from that diet. So we need to make sure that our microbiome is balanced, that we are maintaining that balance through following an anti-inflammatory diet as well.
Not only are we going to absorb those nutrients that we’re consuming, but it’s going to help with sleep. It’s going to improve immunity, and it’s also going to help with our mental health. It’s also going to help with reducing symptoms and improving our quality of life through reducing some of that discomfort that some of us experience daily. So this will increase longevity too, because you’re overall feeling better and able to enjoy more of life. Check out Desi’s previous articles about gut health for more tips on how to optimise your microbiome.
2. Eating for immunity can benefit us as we age.
Better gut health has immunity-based benefits, but we can also eat specifically for immunity. This includes ensuring we eat plenty of foods containing Vitamins A, C, D and E. Zinc is also a really important one, which is well documented alongside Vitamin C for immunity purposes. Looking after our immunity through food, is both delicious and rewarding for our longevity. So start to include things like strawberries, citrus fruits, capsicum, and green veggies such as broccoli. You can try out a vitamin-rich vegetable like artichokes – putting them in a salad, or they are also delicious roasted. As well as nuts, seeds, fish and seafood as part of our Mediterranean diet, and legumes.
Legumes such as your chickpeas, beans, lentils are such an important part of immunity because of the zinc that they hold. Not to mention all the other benefits say low GI, high in protein. They’re a carbohydrate, and they’re a fibre source to fuel your gut as well. There are so many ways to incorporate lentils into your meals. Through salads, snacks, or dips. They also incorporate easily into our winter warmer dishes. They’re great in casseroles, chilli con carne, and one pot meals like soups and stews. So playing with some different ingredients can boost your immunity. You can boost it even further, by checking your vitamin and mineral status and actively working towards enhancing your levels of those important nutrients for great health.
3. The Mediterranean diet is linked to longevity
If you’re looking for a one-stop shop that brings all of these principles together, you can’t go past the Mediterranean diet. All the videos and articles that we’ve made usually highlight one component of the principles that make up the Mediterranean Diet. So if you want to bring all the benefits together, then you can look to follow the common principles of this diet for your lifestyle.
Here are the benefits for longevity through adopting a Mediterranean Diet:
- It will ensure you’ve got good gut health and maintain good gut health through anti-inflammatory eating.
- It incorporates foods that are high in immunity boosting properties. So bringing that all together, putting it as a part of a lifestyle measure would do you a lot of good.
- Plus, it’s fun, it’s delicious and easier than you think to apply to your life.
The world became interested in the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet in the 1960’s when it was noted that people in many Mediterranean countries had the highest life expectancies in the world. Since then, there have been several studies which showed life expectancy is higher in those following these diet principles, even if they don’t live in the Mediterranean. .
One of the most influential findings of recent years was a study on the Mediterranean diet by Harvard University in 2014. It found participants who followed Mediterranean Diet principles had longer telomeres, which is a biomarker linked to longevity.
Getting more sleep helps us live longer
More sleep helps with longevity, and particularly, with better gut health. If you’ve got poor gut health, I almost guarantee that you’re not sleeping as well as you should be. That’s another benefit of addressing gut health, you’ll probably sleep better.
So how do we get more sleep? Let’s do our typical things and go back to basics. Here are my top tips:
- Make sure we are getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
- Eliminate electronics at least an hour before bedtime.
- Do you need to unwind with meditation or yoga before bed? Do something that relaxes the body to start winding down.
- Setting up your home environment with the correct lighting is really important as well. Just to allow your body to switch off and to get into that deep restorative sleep.
Exercise is crucial to longevity
Exercise and movement are crucial to living longer. And it’s never too late to start.
In fact, a study from BMJ published in 2019 which followed almost 15,000 people over 20 years, found that physical activity gave them “substantial longevity benefits irrespective of past physical activity levels and established risk factors.”
So what’s an ideal amount of exercise for good longevity? Make sure that you’ve at least got your 20 to 30 minutes of planned exercise each day.
How do we do that? If you’ve been following us on Facebook and Instagram, you can see Jade, our exercise physiologist post tips and tricks each week to help you along the way and to really break it down and make it feel achievable. It’s not necessarily about needing to go to the gym five times a week. There’s different ways that we can get our exercise that hopefully you might find enjoyable.
So that was it in a nutshell. I could talk for multiple videos on longevity and can really digest, dissect everything that I’ve spoken about.
More inspiration for a long and healthy life.
Nutrition for Longevity Cooking Demo and Masterclass
On Saturday, the 17th of June we’ll be hosting an event at the Greek Club in Brisbane. It’s a cooking demonstration and masterclass dedicated to Nutrition for Longevity where we are going be diving into this topic in a lot more detail. We’ll be demonstrating some recipes that combine the components of what we are talking about and that you can taste. If you’re in Brisbane, we’d love to see you. Check our events page for details on this and any other upcoming events.
The content in this article is not intended as medical advice. It is also of a general nature and is not tailored to your individual circumstances. If you are experiencing significant digestive symptoms, a 1:1 consultation is always the best approach. Please contact our clinic to discuss your unique situation and our tailored and individualised IBS protocol.