Can you eat your way to a longer life? It’s a question people often ask experts like Laura L. Carstensen, Ph.D.professor of psychology and director of the Stanford Center for Longevity in Stanford, California — and more and more research suggests the answer may be yes.
According to chapter in Nutrition, food and diet in old age and longevity, published in October 2021, studies have found that diets such as the Mediterranean diet, the Okinawa diet, the Scandinavian diet, and vegetarian diets promote longevity. These diets will likely help protect your cells from aging thanks to the omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and other substances they contain.
But what does science say about communication?
Can your diet avoid age-related diseases?
Researchers have found that eating – or not eating – certain types of foods can affect your risk of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, which in turn can affect how long you’re likely to live. While no single food guarantees that you will live to see 100, research has found that some eating patterns contribute to longevity by reducing the risk of chronic diseases associated with ageing.
For example, you can reduce your risk of heart attack by following a diet like the Mediterranean or Nordic diet, according to A study published in Medicine BMC In June 2018. A Mediterranean diet may reduce breast cancer risk, according to A study published in Nutrients In March 2018. Eating the most plants and whole foods may reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes, according to The review was posted on Nutrients In September 2020. Whole grains may also reduce the risk of pancreatic cancer Posted in Nutrition Journal In March 2021.
Dr. Carstensen is a fan of the Mediterranean Diet, a diet that mimics the dietary habits of long-time residents of the Mediterranean, with an emphasis on whole plant foods, healthy fats, nuts and legumes, and legumes. protein. “I love salads and fish, so they are easy for me, and there is good reason to believe they are good for you,” she notes. Research backs it up: The Mediterranean diet has been linked to longevity in A Posted a great review in Nutrients In June 2021.
Specific components of the Mediterranean diet may affect certain health conditions. For example, eating more plant protein (and less animal protein, especially processed red meat) may lower your risk of death from cardiovascular disease, according to The study in JAMA Internal Medicine. Research published in the magazine Gut In June 2020 It has been suggested that the Mediterranean diet can benefit the gut microbiome, making you less vulnerable as you age and improving your cognitive functions. Plant foods slow the onset of diabetes and heart disease, according to Posted in Antioxidants In March 2021.
Can calorie restriction extend your life?
Research shows that obesity shortens life span. According to research published in Obesity Reviews In April 2020Obesity shortens the lifespan of women by 7.1 years and men by 5.8 years after age 40. Obesity has been linked to a number of chronic conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, in The study was published in May 2021 in Aging Research Reviews.
On the other hand, preliminary research in animals has shown that calorie restriction – a practice that can help with weight loss – can slow aging. “In animal studies, when calorie intake is significantly reduced, the animals not only live longer, but appear healthier,” says Carstensen. “This means that there is something about what we eat or not eat that affects our health. This is the most compelling evidence of the importance of diet.”
Posted in Molecular cell biology In September 2021 It supports Carstensen’s opinion, which calls dietary restriction with adequate nutrition the “gold standard” for promoting a long, healthy life.
One common eating technique that may naturally reduce calorie intake? Intermittent fasting, or time-restricted eating. Intermittent fasting involves alternating times when you eat with times you don’t, usually on a daily or weekly basis. While significantly more research is needed, more studies have focused on this practice in recent years. for example, Posted in aging nature In January 2021 It found that intermittent fasting may improve longevity and health by promoting the aging of healthy cells and reducing risk factors for certain diseases.
Carstensen exercises herself by eating time-restricted food — she only has black coffee in the morning, and she limits the time she eats to an 8- to 12-hour window each day.
While more research is needed, the links between what you eat and how long you live are intriguing. The Mediterranean Diet, the Blue Zone Diet, or the Nordic Diet, all of which focus on whole plant foods, can put you on the path to a longer life.
A final word of warning: Always keep in mind that undereating is not a healthy option for people, with some serious health risks involved. according to Posted in Annual Nutrition Review In September 2020Calorie restriction can lead to nutritional deficiencies and can damage muscle and bone tissue (especially in older adults who are not obese). Talk to a registered dietitian and nutritionist; He or she can help you make sure you’re working towards your health goals while meeting your nutritional needs.
Carstensen on her diet for healthy aging
Here’s what Carstensen has to say about how her work affects the longevity of the way she eats. Her responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Ask the Doctor: What does your usual day of eating look like?
Laura Carstensen: In the morning, I only have black coffee. I don’t like eating breakfast, and this helps me limit my food intake to 8 to 12 hours. I usually have a salad for lunch, and then dinner might be pasta pomodoro, a really good spinach broccoli soup, my red lentil soup, grilled salmon or chicken, or a quesadilla. I eat vegan several times a week.
Having said that, I love food, and there is no food group that I don’t eat. I enjoy any kind of food. You have probably tried every diet and exercise routine recommended and most have failed. In the past five to ten years, I’ve started leaning toward things that I really enjoy and not buying things that I enjoy that aren’t good for you. For me, it is not a good idea to buy potato chips and put them in my locker. If they are not there, it does not matter, but if they are there, I will eat a lot of them.
EH: Why is this the diet you follow?
LC: Time-restricted eating is something I think is really interesting. Many biologists I know who study longevity follow a time-limited diet of one kind or another. I think it makes sense that if you eat in fewer hours, you eat less, and give your body a break from having to process what you’re eating. I think there is enough evidence for time-restricted eating for people to consider.
And the Mediterranean diet appears to have the greatest evidence of being healthy. It seems that fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are really good for people. If you look at areas of the world where people live for a long time, most of them eat something like the Mediterranean diet, so there is good reason to believe that this is a good approach.
EH: What’s your favorite healthy snack?
LC: I don’t snack at all during the day. I’ll have a glass of wine and nuts or [whole-grain] Crackers when I come home from work. I used to eat cheese and crackers, but there was a lot of cheese, so I switched to regular crackers or nuts.
EH: When you feel overwhelmed, what foods or drinks do you rely on to boost your energy?
LC: I’m really bad at thinking of food as fuel. I drink coffee in the morning. In the afternoon, if I’m feeling tired and tired, I’ll probably have green tea. It’s just enough stimulus to make me feel alert but not agitated.
EH: Is there a cooking method or technique that you gravitate toward? Or one you avoid?
LC: I love cooking. We have very little processed food in the house, so I make these from salad dressings to soups. I cook with olive oil – this is my default setting. I make a lot of vegan pasta dishes. And I think barbecue is a healthy way to eat indoors or out.
EH: How do you treat yourself?
LC: If I wanted to treat myself, I would go to a really good restaurant and eat whatever I wanted. There is something great about going to a good French or Italian restaurant where people really know how to cook. It is such a pleasure to be able to taste it, and I will eat anything I want at a time like this. I’m not big on deprivation at all.
EH: What healthy food do you wish you could eat the most?
LC: I wish I liked smoothies with kale and carrots and that kind of thing. I just don’t. It’s too liquid for me.
EH: Are there any foods you like? Start Eat?
LC: I do not eat organs such as the brain, kidneys or liver. It is not attractive.
EH: What is your strategy when eating out?
LC: I don’t eat out much, so I treat myself to whatever I want. But if I ate out every night, I wouldn’t be able to do that!
EH: Wine with dinner: Yes or no?
LC: definitely. Wine before dinner and then with dinner, so two cups. I think search [and the United States Department of Agriculture’s 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans] When they say that a woman should have only one glass of wine; But I have two glasses [when I choose to drink wine]I think I’m fine.
EH: What small change have you made — in diet or otherwise — to help promote longevity?
LC: Eating may be time restricted. It’s something I learned from my fellow gerontologists, tried, and felt better. I used to put half and half in my coffee and eat five almonds in the morning, as a trainer told me years ago that you needed to eat first thing in the morning to revitalize your digestive system. I gave up on that, and it was easy for me.
EH: What small change could anyone make to help them live a longer, healthier life?
LC: Get some kind of exercise. It doesn’t have to be jogging or running. It can be walking. And it doesn’t have to be 10,000 steps. You get the most benefit the first mile, and evidence suggests that you don’t get much more health benefit after 7,500 steps, although if you want to do more than that, that’s fine.
EH: Any final thoughts on the link between eating choices and longevity?
LC: I think the key is to find the things you like so you don’t feel deprived, and make them easily available in your world. Try to stay away from things you know you’re likely to eat that aren’t good for you – try not to get them in your eyes or in your cupboard. Then enjoy life – one of the things that is a good indicator of longevity is happiness.