What we eat can significantly influence our quality and life expectancy, which is why we're showing you the three diets that can add years to your life, according to science.
The Best Anti-Aging Diets
We all wish to live longer and reach the later stages of our lives without serious illnesses or a decline in our bodies. That's why there are increasing studies analyzing the factors that can influence our life expectancy.
In this regard, nutrition can affect the functioning of our bodies and determine the length of telomeres. That's why we're showing you the diets that can extend life according to science:
Traditional Mediterranean Diet
The traditional diet of the Mediterranean region is based on multiple foods with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which contribute to preventing premature aging and significantly improving the quality of life.
There are studies indicating that adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet is associated with longer telomeres, which can promote health and longevity.
In its most traditional form, the Mediterranean diet consists of a variety of plant-based foods with high-quality fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, nuts, and seeds. It also includes fish and poultry as the main sources of protein.
See also: 7-Day Mediterranean Diet Meal Plan
Okinawa is one of the so-called blue zones where the population has a long life expectancy. This can be attributed, according to research, to the presence of phenolic compounds in their regular diet, which help reduce oxidative stress in the body and have anti-inflammatory effects.
The traditional Okinawa diet has a limited presence of animal-based foods and primarily includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, soy and its derivatives, as well as fish and seafood as the main sources of protein.
Here's an example of a typical Okinawa diet meal:
- Miso soup: A traditional Japanese soup made with fermented soybean paste, tofu, seaweed, and vegetables.
- Steamed rice: A small portion of white or brown rice.
- Grilled fish: A serving of grilled fatty fish like mackerel or salmon.
- Stir-fried vegetables: A mix of seasonal vegetables such as bitter melon, sweet potatoes, and green leafy vegetables.
- Goya champuru: A stir-fry dish made with bitter melon (goya), tofu, eggs, and various vegetables.
- Tofu salad: A salad made with fresh tofu, mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a light dressing.
- Seaweed soup: A simple soup made with seaweed, mushrooms, and other vegetables.
- Soba noodles: Buckwheat noodles served cold with a dipping sauce made from soy sauce, mirin, and dashi.
- Fresh fruit: Okinawans often enjoy seasonal fruits like pineapple, papaya, or mango as a snack.
- Stir-fried vegetables: Another serving of stir-fried vegetables, including carrots, cabbage, bean sprouts, and onions.
- Tofu or tempeh: Grilled or sautéed tofu or tempeh seasoned with soy sauce and ginger.
- Okinawan sweet potato: A popular local variety of sweet potato, either steamed or roasted.
- Green tea: A cup of antioxidant-rich green tea to accompany the meal.
Note that this is just one example, and the actual meals can vary based on personal preferences and seasonal availability of ingredients. The Okinawa diet is characterized by its focus on plant-based foods, lean protein sources, and limited intake of processed foods and added sugars. It's also important to note that the Okinawa diet is just one aspect of the overall lifestyle of the people of Okinawa, which includes regular physical activity, social engagement, and a strong sense of community.
A significant presence of plant-based foods in the regular diet, such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and others, has been associated with better health and lower mortality.
Furthermore, in a plant-based diet, there is a minimal presence of low-quality processed and ultra-processed foods and a high amount of antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory substances. These factors are responsible for its positive impact on life expectancy.
In fact, the consumption of around ten servings of fruits and vegetables per day has been associated with a lower risk of death from various causes, making their inclusion in daily abundant quantities crucial.
Here's an example of a plant-based meal:
Meal: Chickpea Stir-Fry with Quinoa
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 red bell pepper, sliced
- 1 zucchini, sliced
- 1 carrot, julienned
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free option)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
- 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon grated ginger
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
- In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce or tamari, sesame oil, maple syrup or agave nectar, rice vinegar, and grated ginger. Set aside.
- Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add a splash of water or vegetable broth to prevent sticking.
- Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add the sliced bell pepper, zucchini, carrot, and broccoli florets to the skillet. Stir-fry for about 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender-crisp.
- Add the chickpeas to the skillet and pour the sauce mixture over the vegetables and chickpeas. Stir well to coat everything evenly. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until heated through.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve the stir-fry over a bed of cooked quinoa.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro if desired.
This plant-based meal is packed with protein from the chickpeas and quinoa, as well as a variety of colorful vegetables. It provides a good balance of nutrients and flavors. Feel free to customize the recipe by adding or substituting different vegetables based on your preferences and what's in season. Enjoy!
The Common Denominator of Anti-Aging Diets
The three diets have shown to help live longer and better, so it's important to observe the common denominator among them.
We can see that they are characterized by a high proportion of fiber, as well as antioxidants and polyphenols that can have an anti-inflammatory effect on our bodies.
Primarily, we observe that these three diets emphasize the presence of diverse fruits and vegetables, as well as other plant-based foods like legumes or derivatives, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. They have minimal to no presence of low-quality processed and refined foods that add refined flours, sugars, sodium, and trans fats to our diet.
These are the three diets that can help you add years to your life, according to science, and we can emulate their characteristics to reduce the risk of diseases and increase life expectancy.