Longevity and Nutrition
We live in a country that sadly ranks 26th out of 37 major developed countries for longevity also known as life expectancy . So we can definitely learn a lot from other countries which lead in having centenarians. Some that top the list are the amazing Okinawans which are of Japanese origin and are favorably located between Taiwan and Japan’s mainland. They are three times more likely to have their population live over 100 years of age than that of American citizens. The average Okinawan resident female lives between 86 to 90 years of age and the men average 78 to 84 years in life expectancy. Okinawa is just one of hundreds of Okinawan islands and here alone has over 400 centenarians. Other countries who exceed average life expectancies include Italy, specifically, Sardinia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Iceland, Singapore, Monaco, Austria, Greece and Macao. So to improve our chance of longevity, let’s take a closer look at some of these diets and also review some traditional nutrition that we know are tried and true for overall health.
The exceptional health of the Japanese is not attributed to a low fat diet but rather a moderate amount of animal fat from eggs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood, and even organ meats. They daily consume fish broth and shellfish and may even ingest more cholesterol than most Americans. However, what we do not see in their diet is white flour, or processed foods. We also know that Eskimos have consumed a lot of fat and yet studies show that they have remained heart healthy. Soybeans and seaweed are also two staple foods that if used properly can benefit us long term. Both of these are included in an Asian macrobiotic diet which is known to lower overall risk of disease. The Japanese consume small amounts of tofu in fish broth as well as seaweed which is an excellent source of minerals. Their traditional diet is dense in vitamin and natural anti-oxidants.
Ancient text such as The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine defines certain foods as either yin or yang. In food therapy, based on individual assessment and observation, certain foods will be recommended according to one’s constitution to help balance the body. Rice is a balance of yin and yang and has both energies of each to help center. Yang foods consist of beef, poultry, eggs, and some grains with pork being the highest for yang energy. Yin foods are vegetables, legumes, and dairy. Also, our foods should satisfy our four basic tastes of sweet, bitter, salt, and sour. Salt can be satisfied through traditional bone broths with Celtic Sea salt, dark leafy greens for the bitter, ripe fruits for the sweet, and sour from fermented foods.
Our diet should include enzymes from fermented foods, and both macro and trace minerals. There are now over thirty trace minerals known to be essential for health and living. The best way to take minerals is through mineral rich water, nutrient/nutrition dense foods, and bone-broths. Some of the best meats are organic beef, lamb, chicken and wild caught oily fish. Grains need to be organic due to the amount of pesticides and also sadly due to the way it is processed. The best carbohydrates are organic and whole grains such as sourdough and sprouted grains, soaked or sprouted cereal grains as well as legumes. This can include lentils, beans, chickpeas, seeds, and nuts, and both raw and cooked fermented vegetables.
The importance of good fat in our diets is now widely known. Cholesterol is needed for regulating serotonin receptors in the brain, it acts as a precursor to many vital corticosteroids for major organ functions, and even acts as an antioxidant later in life. Some of the best fats are unrefined flax seed oil, extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), organic butter, avocado oil, and grapeseed oil. Foods which are packed full of essential fatty acids are salmon, sardines, mackerel, avocado, walnuts, dark cacao, and unrefined coconut oil.
Lastly, don’t forget the superfoods like bee pollen, blue-green algae, chlorella, and spirulina, herbal extract bitters (ask an Eastern Medicine Practitioner!), kelp, wheat germ oil, and even yeast. In future blogs, we will discuss many more superfoods that are not as common but are packed full of enzymes and antioxidants to aid longevity and then some.
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