What Does it Mean to Eat Like a Centenarian?
Dr. Valter Longo has dedicated decades of his life to researching the longevity regions and educating the world on how we can improve life expectancy to live healthy longer. He formulated a multi-pillar approach to determine whether a nutrient or combination of nutrients is good or bad for health and identify the ideal combination of foods to optimize lifespan and healthspan in humans.Nutrition for Longevity’s meal plans align with eating patterns in the longevity regions of the world:
- Nicoya, Costa Rica
- Loma Linda, California
- Icaria, Greece
- Sardinia, Italy
- Calabria, Italy
- Okinawa, Japan
People that live in these regions are living exceptionally long lives- to 100 and beyond. What do they all have in common?
- Eat mostly vegan, plus a little fish, limiting meals with fish to a maximum of two or three per week. This is why our chef-curated pescatarian meal plan offers fish at dinner for 3 days only.
- Keep protein intake low if you are below the age of 65 (0.31 to 0.36 grams per pound of body weight). Over age 65, you should slightly increase protein to preserve muscle mass. Consume beans, chickpeas, green peas, and other legumes as your main source of protein.
- Minimize saturated fats from animal and vegetable sources (meat, cheese) and limit sugar.
- Maximize good fats and complex carbs. Eat whole grains and high quantities of vegetables with good fats coming from olive oil and nuts.
- Our meals are not “low carb” for a reason. Without it, we’d be doing you a disservice by omitting fiber, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. These complex carbs digest slowly, offering a lower glycemic load (i.e. not spiking blood sugar) and keeping you full!
- Confine all eating to within a twelve-hour period; for example, start after 8 a.m. and end before 8 p.m. Don’t eat anything within three hours of bedtime. This aligns with the body’s natural circadian rhythm.
While you can gain the most youthful years making healthy choices early on, studies show that making improvements to your diet even in middle age or later can still add a decade to your life expectancy. For those of us that aren’t genetically blessed with health with little effort, we can still make a significant impact on our lifespan with healthier habits. The biggest gains in life expectancy come from legumes, such as beans and lentils, and fiber from whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
As a dietitian, I always ask my clients to state their WHY, or their reason for wanting to make change.
I often hear things like, “I want to be around for my grandkids” or “I want to feel better.” Eating like a centenarian is living and feeling young for as long as possible.
Here are some simple ways to include legumes into your every day meals. You can also check out our blog post all about beans.
Tofu scramble with black beans
Puree cannellini beans with avocado and spread over toast
Add black beans, chickpeas, or lentils to your salad
Black Bean wrap (Mash black beans with garlic powder and cumin and spread it over a wrap to hold everything together!)
Puree beans to thicken soup
Check out this easy lunch recipe:
Black bean burgers
Hummus/bean puree for dips