Longevity And Nutrition

A healthy diet is medically linked to a healthy mind, body and life, but can it affect the length of that life? The truth is that our nutritional choices may also increase our time on Earth. Learn about longevity and nutrition, and how your lifespan may increase from a healthy diet.

Nutrition for Longevity

A healthy diet can act as a powerful weapon against disease. Most Americans die from cancer, complications of obesity, heart disease or a stroke, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2009). Although most people take medications or other medical means of combating chronic illness, a healthy diet alone may reduce your risk of these conditions:

  • Cancer: If you eat five servings of fruit and vegetables daily, cancer risk drops markedly.
  • Complications of obesity: Reducing caloric intake and replacing high-fat choices with low-fat, high-fiber options may reduce excess body weight.
  • Heart disease: If fats are below 30 percent of total caloric intake and daily cholesterol remains below 200 mg, risk of heart disease drops.
  • Stroke: Ten daily servings of vegetables and three servings of low-fat dairy products can lower blood pressure and reduce–or even eliminate–chances of stroke.

These recommendations are simple, but studies are beginning to suggest that these tips can be even further simplified: High food intake increases the risk of health problems, while low food intake reduces this risk.

Low Calorie Diets and Life Extension

A study published in the “Journal of Anatomy” (2000) concluded that when caloric intake is restricted to 60 percent of normal, adaptations occur in the endocrine system that control blood sugar regulation and growth hormone secretion. Researchers believe that these changes decrease the need for cell replication, lower disease likelihood and dramatically extend the lifespans of lab animals.

The National Institute on Aging (n.d.) also found that calorie reduction may slow oxidative damage and increase the brain’s resistance to Alzheimer’s Disease and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Adopting a Healthy Diet for Longevity

According to the medical journal, “Biogerontology” (2009), the maximum human lifespan is 125 years, and most people who are currently at or above 100 are lean. This fact supports studies showing a connection between low-calorie intake and longer lifespans.

Specific dietary choices that have been proven to reduce chronic disease contain omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants and fiber, and include the following:

  • Berries
  • Fish
  • Garlic
  • Nuts
  • Tomatoes
  • Whole grains.

While these foods have been proven to support disease prevention, reducing caloric intake may also increase the positive effects of healthy diet choices. Consult a dietitian or nutrition professional on how you can start nutrition for longevity.

Resources

Brehm, B. (2008). Nutrition’s role in longevity. Retrieved September 8, 2010, from http://www.netwellness.org/healthtopics/diet/longevity.cfm

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2009). Leading causes of death. Retrieved September 14, 2010, from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/lcod.htm

National Institute on Aging. (n.d.). Mark P. Mattson, Ph.D., senior investigator. Retrieved September 14, 2010, from http://www.grc.nia.nih.gov/branches/lns/mmattson.htm

Sonntag, W. E., Lynch, C., Thornton, P., Khan, A., Bennett, S. & Ingram, R. (2000). The effects of growth hormone and IGF-1 deficiency on cerebrovascular and brain aging. Retrieved September 14, 2010, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1468173/

Weon, B. M. & Je J. H. (2009). Theoretical estimation of maximum human lifespan. Retrieved September 14, 2010, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18560989

World Health. (2010). The long-life diet: Nutrition for longevity, Chapter thirteen. Retrieved September 9, 2010, from http://www.worldhealth.net/pages/the_long-life_diet_nutrition_for_longevi/