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Three Easy Changes to Make to Your Diet to Live a Longer, Healthier Life

With the help of this study, there’s a good chance your diet can help you live a healthier life for years to come.

The Telegraph

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avocados, almonds, and flax seeds

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Living to a ripe old age is all well and good, but what we really want is to increase our healthy years, not just our lifespan.

We are constantly bombarded with diets and new nutrition tricks, which we all shamelessly try in order to add years onto our lives.

According to Michael Mor, co-founder and Head of Science for Product at Lumen, "going low-carb is also another way to gradually train your metabolism to process foods more efficiently. This type of diet helps increase fat adaptivity especially when you are first training your metabolism."

Ulrike Kuehl, dietician and Head of Nutrition at Lumen adds that "rather than eliminating your favorite foods at first, try focusing on adding in more of the good stuff. What you’ll notice over time is that these healthier foods end up satisfying you so that you eat less of the foods that aren’t serving your goals and eventually you may find that you don’t even want the foods you originally craved."

He goes on to say that "when we think of how to be healthy, things may be overwhelming and taking several small steps that are easy to implement and maintain may be easier and may actually create more impact than one big thing that will soon become overwhelming."

In a 2022 review by the University of Southern California, scientists have outlined what they are calling the “longevity diet”.

These are the three key findings from the study, which they claim can help you live a longer and healthier life.

1. Aim for a moderate to high intake of unrefined carbohydrates

As carbohydrates are our main source of energy, we need to have a good quantity in our diets, indeed it’s recommended that half our calorie intake should come from carbs. But as far as longevity is concerned, it’s the unrefined variety we need to focus on, such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables. Because of their more complex structure and the fibre they contain, their energy is released slowly in the body, keeping blood sugar levels stable.

To ensure a good hit of complex carbs first thing, start the day with a “healthy carb” smoothie. Include fruit (berries and bananas work well), vegetables (spinach or another leafy green), some oats, nuts and seeds, then top up with milk and blend on a high speed until smooth and creamy.

2. Eat protein from mainly plant-based sources

Limiting animal-based protein in favour of plant-based sources was one of the key findings of the study. If you look at Japan, which has one of the longest average life expectancies in the world, they typically follow this pattern of consumption with a diet containing little red and processed meat, some fish and lots of plant protein from soy products.

Plant proteins you might already have in the fridge include beansprouts, spinach, sweet corn, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and broccoli. They have more protein than most people realise. You can also buy frozen, podded edamame beans in supermarkets now which are very protein-rich and are a great alternative to frozen peas. Other plant proteins we can use in our cooking to reduce our reliance on meat include beans, lentils or chickpeas, which you can purchase in tins or pre-cooked pouches. Add them to favourites like a bolognese sauce, lasagne, cottage pie, curries and stews. They can also give a welcome protein boost to soups and salads.

3. Plant-based fats should make up about 30 per cent of calorie intake

So that’s carbs and protein covered, but what about the other macronutrient, fat? You’ll be unsurprised to hear that plant-based fats, particularly those intrinsic to whole foods like avocados, nuts and seeds are especially beneficial. When it comes to bottled oils, choose extra virgin olive oil for dressings and drizzling and a high smoke point, flavourless oil such as rapeseed oil for cooking.

The study concluded that around 30 per cent of our calories should come from plant-based sources of fat for optimal health. If we assume the average person consumes 2,000 calories a day, 30 per cent would be 600 calories. To give you an idea of what this looks like in practice, ½ an avocado contains 160 calories, 45g of nuts has 275 calories, 1 tbsp of seeds has 45 calories and 1 tbsp of olive oil has 120 calories.

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This post originally appeared on The Telegraph and was published June 6, 2022. This article is republished here with permission.