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    The Most Nutritious Foods for Longevity

      |  Jan 03, 2023

    When it comes to getting older, there are usually two camps on how we feel about it. The first is the people who dread it. You know, those who are simply afraid of what it means to be older.

    Then there are those of us who embrace getting older. We love that we are wiser, more confident, and comfortable in our own skin and look forward to experiencing even more out of life.  

    So, why such a wide gap between these two camps? According to Psychology Today, the difference may be associated with our views on what aging means to us, based on our childhood memories and experiences.

    Those who fear aging are likely to focus on what society has determined to be an incurable disease, one that needs to be fixed, with no tangible way to do that. While those who think positively about it have taken a different approach. 

    Stephan Rechtschaffen, M.D., a holistic physician, and director of the Omega Institute, calls it "conscious aging, which is a new way of looking at and experiencing aging that moves beyond our cultural obsession of youth toward a respect and need for the wisdom of age."

    Psychologists Judith Rodin, Ph.D. of Yale, and Ellen Langer, Ph.D., of Harvard, who published a series of studies on the subject, say that the myths that most influence our attitudes about growing old are the fear of failing health as we age, including declining memory and chronic illness. None of which are very inspiring when it comes to living a long life.

    But what if we had control of our health and could change the way we feel about living longer, and it was as easy as changing our diet? 

    Making the Change Toward Health

    When it comes to turning the tide on how we age, we have more control than you'd think. Getting older doesn't have to mean ill health and chronic disease, despite what your family history might say. 

    Our genes may be a predisposition to what we could experience. Still, according to Dean Ornish, MD, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute and professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, both lifestyle and nutritional changes can actually alter our original genetic makeup, allowing us to have much more control than we ever thought possible.

    The most significant factor in changing our health and longevity, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, nutritional researcher, author, and board-certified physician specializing in nutritional medicine, is food. 

    That's right, food.

    He states that a diet that includes the highest nutrient foods is the secret to optimal health and permanent weight control. And the more of the high nutrient foods we consume, the less we will crave the unhealthy foods that cause most of the chronic illnesses that are so prevalent in our society today, especially as we age.

    The Secret of Longevity

    When it comes to living a long healthy life, there has been an abundance of research studies over the years that have revealed a direct connection between a diet of plant-based foods and overall health and longevity—showing that by changing our diets, we can control and improve our health at any age.

    A diet of minimally processed foods, close to nature, predominantly plants, is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention.

    Some of the research pioneers include T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., one of the lead scientists studying how consuming a plant-based diet can change overall long-term health and longevity. Due to his research, he's been featured in several documentaries on the subject.

    Another leader is Caldwell Esselstyn, MD, an authority on heart health and researcher of how plants make us healthier even as we age. According to Dr. Esselstyn, no one needs to suffer from obesity, cardiovascular issues, diabetes, or high blood pressure. He believes that by switching to a whole-food plant-based diet, we can eradicate them.

    Scientific research highlights one food when it comes to its positive impact on living longer and healthier. That food is raw dark leafy greens consisting of kale, romaine lettuce, collards, spinach, and swiss chard, making the simplest, most nutrient dense meal we can imagine. It's called a salad.

    When it comes to fighting chronic illnesses, vegetables and fruits rule. They contain the highest nutrients per calorie and include all the vital amino acids and phytochemicals our bodies need to protect us from some of the most common health issues we fight today, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and high blood pressure.

    Transitioning to a Longevity Diet

    Making any change can be overwhelming, so the key is to have a plan, keep it simple and take the first step. To get started, we want to reduce the foods proven to cause chronic health issues, such as added sugar, salt, processed foods, and alcohol. Then we start adding into our diet the most nutritious foods that will give us the vitamins and minerals vital for good health. 

    They include: 

    • Dark leafy greens in abundance. Enjoy big salads with plenty of dark green veggies. Enjoying lots of these foods will help to reduce inflammation, give us plenty of vitamins, and fill us up.

    • Add some color. Don't forget that eating a variety of colorful vegetables will round out our vitamin intake and add additional flavor to every meal.

    • Add a variety of fruits and berries to our diets. Including them in salads offers a delicious way to sweeten salads, but we can also enjoy them frozen as a sweet and delicious dessert. Berries are rich in flavonoids which are one of the best foods for brain health. A study by Harvard researchers found that eating just two servings postponed memory decline by over two years.

    • Add nuts, seeds, and avocado to provide the healthy fats we need healthily and deliciously. No need for oils as the calories can derail any effort to lose unwanted pounds.

    • Drink plenty of water. Hydration can be one of the biggest challenges and crucial for our health. According to Dr. David Dupree, "think of it really as the fountain of youth. It's the most basic thing, yet it runs the most complicated thing, our bodies. So, we're going to consume a lot. We have to maintain the machine to keep it moving."

    When it comes to longevity and good health, it's vital to stay in the moment, choose our foods wisely and value every bite of a delicious meal. It’s all about paying attention to what we want our lives to look like as we age. We need to take care of ourselves, be kind, and enjoy family and friends for a much happier, healthier life!