Can you eat to increase your chances of living longer? Are there foods you can eat more or less of that will decrease your chances of getting type 2 diabetes, stroke or heart disease? Yes, there are foods to increase in your diet and foods to decrease. Have you ever seen the movie, Lost Horizon? The actors find themselves in a fictional location called Shangri-La. In Shangri-La people live a long time, up to 200 years old. And they age ever so slowly. Well, they haven’t found a real Shangri-La yet, but researchers are finding foods linked to major diseases and foods linked to living a longer life. So, what are the eating habits that could shorten your life and what are the eating habits that decrease your risk of disease and hopefully lead to a longer life? An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association notes there are 10 food categories that we either eat too much of or too little of.
What are the foods we need to eat more of?
- Seafood and other foods rich in Omega-3 fats – a heart healthy fat
- Whole grains- whole grain cereal, oats, brown rice, quinoa
- PUFA’s – what are PUFA’s? Polyunsaturated fats like corn oil
- Nuts and seeds: as Dr. Oz recommends, a handful of nuts a day is a healthy habit. Flaxseeds are very popular and a good choice to add to your smoothie or cereal.
What foods should we eat less of?
- Foods high in sodium
- Processed meats like bacon, sausage
- Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda, sweetened ice tea
Suggestions: So, what can you do to make improvements in your risk factors? Start small. Think about one change you could make. If you aren’t eating fruit at breakfast, find a fruit you can add to your breakfast every day. A simple glass of orange juice, a banana are easy choices to add. Buy a large bag or can of nuts – any kind of nuts. Put a handful in a baggie and take to work as a snack or pack it in your lunch. Read labels for sodium content of foods. You will be amazed how much sodium is added to the foods we eat. If you don’t have any whole grains in your day, find a way to add some. Eat a General Mills cereal for breakfast or as a snack. Cheerios - always a good choice. Buy some popcorn or Sun Chips which are both whole grain. Buy some Triscuits or other whole grain crackers. One doesn’t have to eliminate foods from your diet but to eat more of the foods that are healthier for you and less of the foods that we should cut back on. Cut back on the white bread but add the whole wheat bread. Cut back on the white rice and try brown rice or quinoa. Costco and Target sell a great whole grain quinoa and brown rice mix that cooks in 90 seconds. Minute Rice makes a great multi-grain medley that is easy to prepare. So set a goal to add more of some foods and eat less others. No Shangri-La but a chance at a healthier and longer life.
Sources: Journal of the American Medical Association, Food Habits, Washington Wellness Center, Seeds of Change, Image Source: Multi-grain, Quinoa,Cheerios