Everyone wants to live longer, and there are a number of dietary habits that people who live to be a 100 or older employ that can help achieve this goal. While these eating habits are nothing new, they have been studied for years to determine there effectiveness and just what is being offered to people by making some of these adjustments. In a new report from Time Magazine, a team of experts were tasked with studying the diets of people in areas where individuals can be seen living much longer. There were over 150 studies of dietary habits of people in areas known as Blue Zones, over a period of 100 years, to determine what these people are eating on average in order to extend their lives.
The Blue Zones studied by the team were locations in which a concentration of individuals lived to be around 100 years of age or older. These are actually considered to be hot spots for longevity. Among these locations are places such as, Sardinia, Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa, Japan and even a place in California called Loma Linda. Based on the diets of those individuals who were seen living longer lives in the Blue Zones, 15 habits have been put together as a comprehensive list.
At the very top of the list is getting at least 95 percent of one’s food from plants. For people living in these Blue Zones, meals throughout the year consist of predominately beans, whole grains and fresh produce. Eating vegetables when they are in season is optimal and when there are excesses they can be pickled or even dried for later consumption.
Another important dietary habit of long lived people, is keeping meat consumption down to less than twice per week. The preferred meats are free range and consist of chicken, pork and lamb. It is recommended that individuals eat no more than two ounces of meat approximately five times per month.
While eating meats is limited, it is recommended that individuals eat around three ounces of fish every single day. The best fish to eat are those that are considered to be in the middle of the food chain. This includes such fish as sardines, cod and even anchovies. The reason for this is because these are the fish that have not been exposed to high levels of chemicals such as mercury.
Cutting back on dairy is another aspect of Blue Zone dietary habits. Typically calcium is introduced to the diet via plants, although goats milk is consumed in products such as cheese and yogurt. This is because human digestive systems do not process cow’s milk as optimally as needed.
Adding up to three eggs into one’s diet per week is another aspect of Blue Zone eating habits. Eating only one egg at a time is optimal for the diet.
With beans being a critical aspect of eating healthy, it is recommended that individuals consume half a cup of cooked beans per day. Beans provide the minerals and vitamins that are needed, and they even add fiber to the diet.
Bread tends to be a dietary staple, but for those in the Blue Zones, eating whole wheat or sourdough breads is preferred. These are not the typical varieties of sourdough and whole wheat either. In fact, whole wheat breads in some of these areas include barley, rye and wheat. The breads also tend to have less gluten in them.
Reducing one’s consumption of sugar is also crucial. Although this may seem obvious, many of those individuals that have made it to the 100 year mark choose honey over sugar as a sweetener.
Nuts are another key factor to proper diet. It is recommended that individuals eat approximately two handfuls per day.
Coffee is a recommended beverage for a healthy diet. It has been shown to reduce people’s risks for heart disease and even cancer of the liver. Coffee has even been shown to lower people’s rates of Parkinson’s, as well as dementia.
Another aspect that might seem obvious is consuming water. Those who live longer lives, tend to drink more water. In fact, there are scientists who say that studies indicate that people who drink more water are less likely to experience blood clots.
If a person is going to consume alcohol, the preferred beverage of the Blue Zones is red wine. On average, people in these areas consume one to three glasses every day. It is not just about the antioxidants it provides, but also the stress relief that helps to extend one’s health.
Although there are any number of other dietary tips that can help people live longer lives, these primary ideas are some that many might believe to be obvious. Unfortunately, just because they are apparent does not mean that people tend to follow these types of habits in their lives. Even if an individual chooses to incorporate some of these healthy ideas into their lifestyle, they can help with overall health and well-being.
By Kimberley Spinney
Time: 15 Eating Habits That Make You Live Longer
Berkeley Wellness: 14 Keys to a Healthy Diet
Latin Times: Alcohol, Chocolate Might Be Good For Your Health; Plus 7 Eating Habits To Extend Your Life Expectancy
Photo Courtesy of Noortje Schmit’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License