If there were a simple longevity diet that ensured a long life the world would be filled with centenarians. But the fact is, every one of us is slightly different and we react to diet and lifestyle in different ways.
My aunt never touched a glass of water and always drank tea and despite that fact that medical advice is to drink plenty of water every day she lived well into her nineties.
People in certain parts of the world appear to live longer; residents of the Pacific Island of Okinawa have an average life expectancy of 81 years compared to 78 years for those that live in the US.
The natives of the Panamanian San Blas islands rarely succumb to heart disease or high blood pressure. The secret of their longevity would appear to lie in the regular consumption of dark chocolate.
However no matter where you live in the world, following a typical longevity diet will give you the best chance of a long and healthy life.
Fruit and vegetables are low in calories and at least 5 portions a day are recommended. Certain fruits have special benefits; research at the Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center shows that the anti-oxidants contained in blueberries and cranberries help maintain a healthy brain into old age, guarding against memory loss and dementia.
Certain vegetables in combination have been shown to be particularly beneficial in guarding against cancers for example broccoli and tomatoes.
Whole grains contain more nutritional value and fibre than refined grains. Eating whole wheat bread and brown rice regularly will reduce the risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Also the fibre (much of which is removed in refined grain products such as white bread and cakes) will aid digestion and help prevent cancers of the stomach and intestines.
Nuts are rich in unsaturated (good) fats and most nuts have their own individual benefits.
Almonds: calcium and vitamin E for healthy bones
Brazil nuts: selenium which aids the healing process
Cashews: minerals iron, zinc and magnesium
Hazelnuts: amino acid homocysteine help protect the heart
Macadamias: fibre and minerals
Pecans: plant sterols help to lower cholesterol levels in the blood and hardening of the arteries
Pistachios: vitamin B6 helps hormonal balance and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin maintain eye health.
Walnuts: mono unsaturated fats lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and omega-3 oils which benefit the heart.
Pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds contain nutrients zinc, selenium, calcium and magnesium which are essential for maintaining healthy glands and hormonal balance.
Dark chocolate contains polyphenols which are thought to lower blood pressure and maintain healthy arteries. While coffee lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes and mental decline.
Fish and shellfish, especially oily fish, contain omega-3 oils which helps prevent heart disease and age related brain deterioration.
Milk and products like yoghurt, cream and butter are essential sources of calcium and the full range of nutrients necessary for healthy bones which in old age can become brittle and break easily.
You can use low fat products to lower cholesterol although this is less important than previously thought according to research by Dr Aseem Malhotra.
Last but by no means least is to develop a love of exercise because without exercise the benefits of a longevity diet will be compromised. Regular activity which raises the heart rate is vital to keep the heart, muscles, arteries and even the brain healthy.
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