A simple Google search about healthy eating will turn up hundreds of articles about fad diets, “superfoods”, nutritional supplements, and any number of dieting tips. If you use social media at all, there’s a good chance that someone has tried to sell you magic pills or powers that guarantee a slim body and lifelong youth. However, a good diet doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive, or restrictive. A simple, well-balanced diet is necessary for everyone’s health but is especially important for seniors. Healthy eating can help people live longer and have a more fulfilling and active lifestyle later in life.
There are certain places in the world called “Blue Zones” where people routinely live past the age of 100. It’s no surprise that people in these areas share certain dietary habits. They don’t count calories or take supplements, and they’re certainly not following restrictive fad diets. However, they do eat a balanced diet and rarely consume packaged or pre-made foods.
Eat Whole Grains, Beans, and Vegetables
People who eat whole grains and vegetables as the main part of their diet are healthier overall and statistically, live longer lives. Vegetables, especially the leafy green ones that are high in fiber, are an important part of a balanced diet. Fortunately, even if you’re not a huge fan of greens and vegetables, they are easy to add into more appealing foods in tasty ways. In addition, a simple switch from white bread to whole wheat guarantees more whole grains in the diet.
Along the same lines of more whole grains and vegetables, is eating less meat. In areas where people live the longest, meat is not a staple and is only eaten occasionally. It is rarely the “main” course that we see here in the United States. If you or your loved ones aren’t willing to give up meat at every meal, considering lowering portion sizes to less than 2 oz., and primarily eating white meat like pork and chicken. Fish is also a good replacement for meat.
Cooked beans are an important diet staple that helps people live longer. On average, beans are made up of 21 percent protein, 77 percent complex carbohydrates, and only a little fat. Packed with vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients, beans are an important part of a longevity-based diet plan.
Less Sugar, More Nuts
Most people like to snack, and that often means picking up unhealthy, sugary foods. Replacing sugary snacks with a handful of nuts can reduce cholesterol and help people live longer. A recent 30-year Harvard study found that people who eat nuts have a 20% lower mortality rate than those who don’t eat nuts. To further lower sugar intake, try replacing sugar with honey.
Overall, eating to live longer is not complicated, but it does require healthy, nutritious foods and a knowledge of how to cook them to make them enjoyable. At the Manors, our kitchen staff works hard to provide all of our residents will delicious, healthy meals for longer, happier lives.