People are constantly seeking ways to extend their lifespan, and perhaps the answer isn’t in medication or technology but in diet. Obviously, it’s common sense that the better your diet is, the healthier you will be – but people are often not aware of exactly the kinds of foods they should be eating to ensure a long life, and thus miss out on the benefits.
Getting started with healthy eating can be hard, especially since today’s food is designed to be quick, cheap and easy rather than healthy. But it can be done! Here are five diet changes you ought to be making if you want to live to a ripe old age.
Be a dedicated herbivore
There’s a reason all children are told to eat their greens. Leafy vegetables are vital to a healthy lifestyle – they’re rich in calcium, vitamins, iron and protein, and even can help protect against cancer. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, radish and turnips are especially effective at this, and ideally we should all be eating them every day.
So when serving up meals for children, give them a helping of peas or sweetcorn, at least, to go with whatever they are eating. And don’t let them have dessert until they’ve eaten it! Also consider switching out snacks like crisps and chocolate bars for things like carrots and celery – the other good thing about vegetables is that they’re easy to get hold of and to snack on.
Put more spice in your life
In 2015, a study showed that eating spicy food everyday appeared to reduce the risk of illnesses like cancer. “Participants who ate spicy foods almost every day had a relative 14% lower risk of death compared to those who consumed spicy foods less than once a week.” Good news for those who like curries! Whilst more research undoubtedly needs to be done, the signs are good. Fresh chilli – which is rich in capsaicin and vitamin C – seems to be the most effective at reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.
Eat more berries
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries – not only do they taste nice, they are extremely good for you! Harvard University once conducted a study of over 16,000 women and found that the ones who ate strawberries and blueberries had cognitive decline slowed down by 2.5 years. Not only that, but they can help prevent urinary tract infections, improve digestive health, and they even contain an antioxidant called anthocyanidin which boosts activity in the brain.
Fish is now considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, and – assuming you’re not a vegan – you should absolutely be eating fish as often as possible. They’re one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are hugely beneficial to your heart and your brain. Research is even demonstrating that a diet high in fish may help reduce depression, which is no doubt very promising for those suffering with the illness.
Pregnant women should be careful when eating fish, however – some of them are high in mercury, which is dangerous for the developing fetus. They should stick with a small amount of fish low in the ocean food chain, like sardines and salmon, and avoid uncooked fish. But apart from that – eating lots of fish is highly conductive to a long life.
Pick yourself some fruit
Remember the old phrase “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well, it’s true. Apples contain pectin, which reduces blood cholesterol levels, and they’re also rich in vitamin C. Red Delicious apples and Granny Smith apples are considered the healthiest of this healthy food, but really all apples are good for you.
Although they can help with anything from reducing IBS to whitening your teeth, apples aren’t even the only fruit “superfood” out there. Grapefruits can reduce the risk of heart disease, bananas can help lower your blood pressure, and grapes are associated with the reduced risk of Alzheimer’s in mice!
Naturally, there are other aspects to living a long life through diet – eat sensible portions, for a start, and don’t slather your foods in sugar and salt. But it’s definitely recommended that you try and make the above changes in order to keep healthy and thus live a long time.