Note: This article is a revised chapter from my recent book 10 Simple Principles of a Healthy Diet: How to Lose Weight, Look Young, and Live Longer
To enjoy the technological and scientific breakthroughs that will enable us to extend our lifespans beyond 100, we first have to wait for a few decades for all of that to happen. Fortunately, there is a lot we can do in between to ensure we stay healthy and increase our chances for longer life. Building and maintaining healthy habits is an issue of lifestyle. I thought it might be worth taking a closer look at my five favorite longevity habits and how my family and I implement these practices.
1. Loving Veggies
I’m a big fan of veggies. In my family we make sure plants represent the bulk of what’s on our plates, echoing the advice of numerous food experts. D. Craig Willcox, Ph.D., who co-wrote “The Okinawa Program”, suggests readers eat as far down the food chain as they can, which of course means consuming more plants. If I had to briefly describe my family diet, I would call it heavily plant-based.
However, for us, the diet staple isn’t grains, bread or potatoes, as is the case in many Western diets. Instead, it’s the sweet potato, which is packed full of essential vitamins and minerals without being packed full of calories, and a variety of cruciferous vegetables. We love all types of cruciferous vegetables, but Brussels sprouts and broccoli are among our favorites. We stir-fry them with garlic and a splash of tamari or steam them with lemon juice and olive oil.
Our kids need additional motivation, like most children do, to eat vegetables on a regular basis, so we use a carrot-and-stick approach. We try to add a whole plant garnish to each meal and add green leafy vegetables to their smoothies. Unfortunately for the kids, we have a “no sugar/no sweets” policy at home. Speaking of children, here is another list that will help you set up your kids for longevity.
2. Eating From the Ocean
Being born in a city on the Pacific Ocean and having spent the first 17 years of my life by the coast, I feel very comfortable with the idea of eating from the sea. Now, in my family, we consume around three servings of fish per week. We avoid farmed-raised fish. We buy only wild small-sized fish, that contain less mercury. We love sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel icefish, wild salmon and sole. Kids often eat fish soups; adults opt for roasted or baked fish with herbs and garlic.
By emphasizing foods from the ocean, we get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 is crucial to preventing heart disease, the number one killer in the world.
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