My birthday last week inspired this issue’s theme of aging! How do our diets factor into longevity and feeling better as we age? It seems to involve eating more veggies… But just remember, if you choose to swap animals products for veggies in order live longer and better, you can celebrate your extra birthdays with delicious vegan cakes!
The Blue Zones
In 2004, Dan Buettner teamed up with National Geographic and the world’s best longevity researchers to identify pockets around the world where people live measurably longer better. In these “Blue Zones” they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States.
After identifying 5 of the world’s Blue Zones, the team identified lifestyle characteristics that might explain longevity and found that the lifestyles of all Blue Zones residents shared nine specific characteristics. Check out characteristic #5!
- Move Naturally The world’s longest-lived people don’t pump iron or run marathons. Instead, their environments nudge them into moving without thinking about it.
- Purpose Why do you wake up in the morning? Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy.
- Down Shift Stress leads to chronic inflammation, associated with every major age-related disease. The world’s longest-lived people have routines to shed that stress.
- 80% Rule “Hara hachi bu” – the Okinawans say this mantra before meals as a reminder to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.
- Plant Slant The cornerstone of most centenarian diets? Beans. They typically eat meat—mostly pork—only five times per month.
- Wine @ 5 Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers, especially if they share those drinks with friends.
- Belong Attending faith-based services four times per month – no matter the denomination – adds up to 14 years of life expectancy.
- Loved Ones First Centenarians put their families first. They keep aging parents and grandparents nearby, commit to a life partner and invest in their children.
- Right Tribe The world’s longest lived people chose or were born into social circles that support healthy behaviors.
To learn more, take a look at Dan’s Ted Talk or the Blue Zones website.
Those of us concerned about getting Alzheimer’s can take heart knowing that diet and lifestyle changes could potentially prevent millions of cases a year. Too much cholesterol in the blood is recognized as a risk factor for Alzheimer’s. In 2014 the “Dietary and Lifestyle Guidelines for the Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease” published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging recommends that “Vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), fruits, and whole grains should replace meats and dairy products as primary staples of the diet.” Click here to see all seven Alzheimer’s prevention guidelines. You can also check out the New York Times bestseller Power Foods for the Brain, by Neil Barnard, MD.
TOR is an enzyme that functions in our bodies as a master regulator of cellular growth and proliferation. TOR is upregulated in nearly 100% of advanced human prostate cancers and higher TOR expression has been noted in breast cancer tumors. But just reducing animal protein intake can decrease overall TOR activity, which may be one reason why plant-based diets in general are associated with lower risk for many cancers. Natural plant-derived inhibitors of TOR are found in broccoli, green tea, soy, turmeric, and grapes, along with other fruits and vegetables such as onions, strawberries, blueberries, mangoes and the skin of cucumbers. Read more here.
How to Add Years to Our Lives
So how many extra years can eating more vegetables potentially get us? Data from the EPIC study shows eating 5 or more servings of fruits and veggies a day adds an average 4 years of life. The Adventist Health I study shows that Seventh Day Adventists in Loma Linda, California, live up to a decade longer than the average Californian, largely attributed to their plant based diet. Other contributing factors: they are leaner, exercise and don’t smoke.
Our nephew Ryan not only met, but surpassed the Veganuary challenge! Forty-five days of veganism…way to go Ryan! It’s exciting that people in their 20s seem generally open to lifestyle changes to improve their health, the environment and the plight of animals.
Love this Quote!
“I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want it to be my fault.” I loved this quote by Kim Williams, MD, president of the American College of Cardiology and Rush University chief of cardiology. He himself follows and advocates for a whole food, plant based diet. He co-chaired the inaugural International Cardiovascular Nutrition Summit in Chicago last year.
Lentil, Chard & Sweet Potato Curry
1 small onion, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
½ jalapeño, finely chopped
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon curry powder
1½ teaspoons garam masala
½ teaspoon turmeric (optional)
3 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes (about 2 medium)
1½ cups yellow lentils (toor dal), rinsed and picked through
Juice of ½ lime
1 bunch Swiss chard, center stems removed, leaves roughly chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2. Add the broth, sweet potatoes, and lentils. Stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover again, this time leaving the lid open a crack. Simmer for about 20 minutes.
3. When the lentils are tender and the liquid has decreased, add the lime juice, and chard, and cook until the chard is just starting to wilt. Add the salt and the pepper to taste, stir to combine, and remove from the heat. Serve warm over cooked grains.
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