Foods for longevity

I’m more than a little interested in the subject of healthy eating. In fact, I’m morbidly and pathologically obsessed by diet, exercise and longevity. As a result, I’ve learned a thing or two about eating.

One of the things I’ve learned is that healthy eating isn’t really about packing in a handful of acai berries or pine nuts or organic broccoli every day. It’s much more about excluding unhealthy items like processed meats, refined carbohydrates, and sugars. Do that, and you’re 90% of the way to a healthy diet.

When you read government recommendations to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, that doesn’t mean in addition to the unhealthy foods people normally eat. It means instead of them. And by the way, five a day isn’t really enough.

In fact, if you really want to live for a long time, you need to think about reducing your calorie intake quite significantly, and the only way you can do that is by eating a diet of exclusively low energy-density foods.

In practical terms, that means mostly fruit, vegetables, whole grains and some lean meat and fish.

I know what you’re thinking. Yum, yum! No more burgers, no more bacon, no more cheese, no more sugary desserts!

If you’re vegetarian, you’re part way there, but it isn’t necessary to go vegetarian to eat well, and a vegetarian diet isn’t necessarily a healthy one.

One of the persistent myths about healthy eating is that new research keeps throwing up conflicting results, but that isn’t really true. Newspapers, magazines and social media keep throwing up conflicting research, but that research isn’t representative of mainstream thinking amongst professionals. There’s still a fair bit of noise in the research, but the key finding is always the same – less (calorie intake) is more (life).

There are three key rules for living a long and healthy life:

  1. Eat less.
  2. Exercise more.
  3. Don’t smoke.

It doesn’t have to be much more complicated than that.

16 responses to “Foods for longevity

  1. Good advice.

    Add a 4th… reduce levels of stress.

  2. My rule for healthier eating is simple – only shop the edges of your grocery store. Everything we need resides outside the inner aisles – fruit. vegetables, protein, dairy etc.Venture down the aisles (aside from a handful of staples) and we risk the temptation of “convenience”, “ready to serve”, gimmicky marketing campaigns and pre-packaged nonsense passed off as “all natural” or “healthy alternative”. 🙂

  3. Agree. I like my chocolate chips at night when I’m watching tv. I am not willing to give that up. But, that said, I exercise, am active and eat well the rest of the time. That combined with my physiology equals a long life, discounting the unpredictable like being run over my my car, which happened, even though I lived and wasn’t very injured to tell the tale. The event illustrated to me that anything can happen anytime so be careful, take care of yourself and enjoy the moment.


  4. Steve… it sounds very beautiful and simple … “reducing calorie intake quite significantly” … but if i’m not mistaken, is the main creator and promoter of this thesis, proved in practice its relevance and importance… because lived about 70 years! really impressive result…

  5. Stan, I think you’re referring to Roy Walford, who was a pioneer in the study of calorie restricted diets for life extension. He was a Professor of Pathology at UCLA in California and also worked for the World Health Organization and National Institute on Aging. His work demonstrated the anti-aging effect of calorie-restricted diets, especially in preventing heart disease, cancer and the other degenerative diseases that are most responsible for deaths in old age.

    Walford died at the age of 79 from motor neurone disease, a rare brain condition whose cause is unknown.

    • would be correct… a significant reduction in calories influences well on the heart! … unfortunately, promotes the development of cancer significantly! – in combination with vege, promotes the development of such phenomena as ms, asl, mnd.
      also i found original text: “For 30 years, Walford lived on a near-starvation diet of only 1,600 calories per day. He believed that caloric restriction could extend the human life span to 150 years – but died in 2004 at 79 from complications of motor neuron disease, rendering his personal experiment moot.

      • Stan, I don’t know where you got that information from about cancer. I have a report published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research, and its 7 key recommendations are:
        1. Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight.
        2. Be physically active as part of everyday life.
        3. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods and avoid sugary drinks.
        4. Eat mostly foods of plant origin.
        5. Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat.
        6. Limit alcoholic drinks.
        7. Limits consumption of salt.

        • Steve. sounds great, but it’s just a theory! illusory… deceptively real! If all this would be so easy… so few would suffer… but dying millions! especially number 4 can drive man to despair… all this, however, requires further explanation but a little later…

  6. Great post Steve! Thank you for the reminder.

  7. Perfect advice! I’d add “eat fresh produce” and “cook at home” to round the list out. 🙂

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