I think we are all aware that “we are what we eat”, so it stands to reason that good nutrition is an essential part of healthy ageing. Eating good nutrient-dense food boosts energy and vitality, body, and brain function, and improves digestion. We know that our genes influence the ageing process but having good nutrition can have a positive impact on the appearance of the skin, how we feel and how fast we age, on a cellular level.
Conversely, negative influences on ageing are consuming processed, refined food and junk food, as they have been stripped of their nutrient value. Other factors are poor hydration, a lack of movement or exercise, long-term sleep deficiency, alcohol, coffee, drugs, and smoking.
So, if “we are what we eat”, what can we eat to live longer?
The Blue Zone or Mediterranean style diet relates to areas around the world where the population are the longest living, with many surviving to ages above 100 years, through a specific diet and lifestyle.
The areas which have the highest number of centenarians in their population are Sardinia in Italy, Okinawa in Japan, Loma Linde in California, Ikaria in Greece, and the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica.
So as you can see below, they are scattered across the world but all share dietary and lifestyle similarities.
What is it though?
Well, these amazing people have a diet that looks like this:
65% complex carbohydrates (e.g., whole grains, peas, beans, vegetables)
…AND they follow the 95 / 5 RULE, meaning that 95% of the food comes from vegetables, fruits, herbs, grains, nuts, seeds, greens, and beans, and only 5% animal protein.
They use Extra virgin olive oil to sauté their food and spices to season vegetables.
Some other fantastic ways of living also apply!
· Food consumed is locally grown, whole food, and seasonal
· It is traditionally prepared, completely unprocessed
· They eat slowly, with moderate portion sizes and are not full to bursting
· There is no cow’s dairy (but includes sheep or goat’s milk)
· They consume beans daily, as an excellent source of high-quality protein and fibre
· No added sugar – only those that are naturally-occurring sugars in fruit and vegetables only!
· Nuts daily, but with no added salt or sugar (almonds, pistachios, walnuts, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and Brazil)
· They consume sour bread i.e., a sourdough from live cultures
· Drink mostly water to stay hydrated, with some coffee, tea, and red wine daily (in moderation!)
…and they also live a lifestyle that positively impacts their sense of well-being!
· They are active, with movement being a part of their regular routine, with outdoor lifestyles
· No smoking
· There is a need for fewer drugs — medications or vaccinations
· They have a strong sense of community and embrace socializing with friends and loved ones regularly
· They also engage in spiritual beliefs
Well, what’s not to like? :-)
We are all aware of the saying “we are what we eat”, so whilst ageing is connected to genes, we can also influence the process of healthy ageing by considering what we put in our bodies.
The so-called Blue Zones refer to the regions of the world where there is a higher proportion of people living more than 100 years, of which there are currently 5.
Their longevity and vitality are attributed to several factors – the diet they follow, their lifestyle, social environment and beliefs.
There are currently five known Blue Zones. Their inhabitants’ longevity is partly attributed to their diets, along with other factors, such as exercise and social environment. They follow a primarily plant-based diet, with a high intake of complex carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables).
Why not try to follow some of these guidelines for a couple of weeks and see how you feel? How are your energy levels, for example?
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