According to Leslie Beck, one of Canada’s leading nutritionists and author of “Leslie Beck’s Longevity Diet,” it is possible — you just need to tweak how you eat.
Q: How can changing our eating habits stall the aging process?
A: Nobody’s surprised to hear eating a healthy diet wards off certain age-related diseases. But we’re hearing more about the impact at the cellular level and about fighting free radicals with antioxidants from fruits and vegetables.
Certain foods can diminish inflammation, which has also been linked to chronic problems such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes and heart disease. Those foods include omega 3-rich fish, avocados and flavanoid-rich green tea, grapes and cherries.
A healthy diet can lower insulin levels, which can be elevated by too many sugars and sweets. Keeping levels low can pave the way to a longer life by stimulating certain proteins in the body that are linked to longevity. A person’s best bet is to pick low-glycemic carbohydrates — such as steel-cut oatmeal, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, yogurt, kidney beans and lentils.
Certain nutrients have also been shown to protect telomeres (the tail-like ends) in DNA. Eventually, over time, telomeres get shorter and shorter until the cell dies; longer telomeres have been linked to longer life. Eating vitamin C- and E-rich foods can help protect telomeres.
Q: Which superfoods should everyone be eating?
A: Cabbage and broccoli, salmon, kale and spinach (and other leafy greens) as well as all berries and nuts (especially almonds and walnuts). You don’t have to eat all of these foods daily, but you should look at incorporating them into your diet on a regular basis. Strive to eat fish twice a week, berries every day and cabbage and leafy greens three to seven times a week.
Q: If you could pass along one longevity related tip, what would it be?
A: Just one tip? It’s really difficult to list one thing. I would recommend regular physical and mental exercise and getting enough sleep.
But the first thing you need to do is to clean up your diet. Canadians don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables — they’re full of essential phytonutrients and antioxidants. Concentrate on getting more good things into your diet.
Another tip: In every single species, cutting calories — while still getting all of the protein and nutrients we need — prolongs life and lowers risk for all kinds of illness. So cutting out excess, empty calories is super important.