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For longevity,take a leaf out of centenarians’ book

Ishi Khosla is a former senior nutritionist at Escorts. She heads the Centre of Dietary Counselling and also runs a health food store. She feels that for complete well-being,one should integrate physical,mental and spiritual health. According to her: “To be healthy should be the ultimate goal for all.”

Written by Ishi Khosla | Published: March 18, 2013 3:54:41 am

We cannot be disease-free or immortal but we can certainly add life to our years and years to our life. Studying healthy people has helped researchers discover the secrets of youthfulness and longevity. Some of the oldest cultures looked at include Abkhazia (ancients of Caucasus,ancient USSR),Vilcabambans (Andes,South America),Hunza (Pakistan),Crete (Greece) and centenarians of Okinawa (Japan).

Scientific research has revealed that besides genetic factors,longevity is strongly linked to food and exercise habits. Low-calorie healthy diets and high physical activity of these societies are the secrets for their extended lifespans with virtually no reported incidence of diseases like high-blood pressure,heart disease,cancer,diabetes and other degenerative diseases such as rheumatism,osteoporosis,alzheimer’s and vision problems. Further,these populations have been found to look youthful,exceptionally cheerful,happy and full of zeal even in later years. Most of them even work in the fields at ages of 120 years or older.

Eating less has been found to be the centre piece for longevity. In animal experiments,researchers have demonstrated that calorie restriction has now been clearly proven to be effective and upto 30 per cent restriction leads to extended years in a manner believed to be similar to genetic modification. Additionally,high intake of vegetables,fruits,whole grains,soy,fish and eating less fat along with a healthy lifestyle seems to explain protection from diseases and thus leads to an increased lifespan. Okinawan cenetarian study reported that elder Okinawans who have attained the most phenomenal health and longevity daily eat an average of seven servings of vegetables,seven servings of whole grains,two servings of soy products; fish twice or thrice a week and very little sugar and added fats. Their diets include little meat and no margarines,hydrogenated fats or trans-fat.

Although the impact of good nutrition on health and disease begins very early in life,it’s never too late to make changes. According to researchers,at the age of 65 men and women in high-income countries live for 15 and 19 years more respectively. The older one becomes,the longer one is likely to live. This dispels the common assumption that changes in lifestyle to improve health are no longer worthwhile in old age,and that the remaining years are insufficient to reap the benefits of dietary modifications.


Some tips from centenarians’ diet and lifestyle:

Eat less and eat good-low calories and nutrient dense foods

Choose a diet rich in phyto-chemicals (antioxidants),vitamin B6,B12,folic acid,zinc,calcium,iron,chromium,vitamin D & E and omega-3 fats

Eat good carbohydrates,good fat,high quality proteins and fiber

Whole Food diets: include plenty of whole grains,fruits and vegetables

Prefer fresh,seasonal and locally grown organic foods


Protein rich foods such as fish,soy,peas and beans,seeds,nuts,fermented milk products,buttermilk

Natural sources of fats like seeds,nuts,olives,fish and cold pressed oils.

Functional foods like barley,oats,soy,onion,flax,nuts,herbs and spices

Some form of probiotic foods (good bacteria) like kefir (fermented milk),yogurt

Prebiotic foods like soy,vegetables,fruits and seeds

Limit intake of processed or refined foods,sugars,preservatives,chemicals etc

Avoid hydrogenated trans-fats

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