It didn’t take me long to realize that the old saying “You are what you eat” is true. I especially feel that it holds truer for me than for most people. Did you also know that what you eat increases your longevity? In the US, we tend to eat the typical western diet, which is defined as a diet high in sugar, processed foods, and saturated fats, but low in fruits, vegetables, and fiber. But a recent study revealed that simple changes or swaps could increase our longevity!
According to a study in Science Daily, “A young adult in the U.S. could add more than a decade to their life expectancy by changing their diet from a typical Western diet to an optimized diet that includes more fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains and nuts, and less red and processed meat.” Even older folks my age can make gains to their longevity.
For folks my age, another study in Science Daily found that high polyphenol intake is associated with a 30 percent less reduction in mortality in older adults. Polyphenols are found in plants and they are all around us in plain sight!
Here are five swaps that can increase our longevity:
Eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds as snacks instead of high-carb junk foods and sweets.
Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients and antioxidants like polyphenols, which help us to fight cancer and many diseases. They are low in calories and high in nutrients whereas potato chips and Little Debbie’s (my favorites growing up) are high in calories and low in nutrients. We need the get the bang for our bucks—the most nutrients for every calorie.
Drink water, herbal teas, and fruit drinks instead of sodas and high sugar drinks.
There is no better nutrient than plain H2O on the rocks to hydrate your body. Squeezing a bit of lemon or lime in your water increases hydration and adds a dash of flavor. Herbal teas and leaf teas such as green tea actually contain polyphenols and many other plant chemicals. Green tea is known for its cancer-fighting chemicals. Raspberry tea is another great example. It is made from the leaves of raspberry plants. Drinking raspberry tea can boost your immune system, lower inflammation, improve heart function, and support healthy blood pressure. I use stevia to sweeten which does not up my blood sugar. Sodas spike your blood sugar, can contain caffeine which dehydrates, and can acidify your body which increases inflammation and many issues.
Eat more wild-caught fish, organic meats, and plant-based proteins instead of processed and red meats.
Protein is the backbone of the immune system so like Goldilocks we want to get enough, but not too much. We want to vary the sources and stay away from processed meats and limit red meats. Ask any heart doctor or oncologist about the benefits of eating more plants and lessening your processed and red meats. Both processed and red meats contribute to heart disease and strokes.
Eat whole grains over processed grains.
Our bodies were simply not created by God to eat processed foods and grains. We need the fiber and all it offers. This means eating brown rice over white rice, whole wheat bread over white bread, whole wheat flour over white flour, etc. Whole grains contain the entire grain kernel ― the bran, germ, and endosperm. Refined or processed grains have been milled, a process that removes the bran and germ. This is done to give grains a finer texture and improve their shelf life, but it also removes dietary fiber, iron, and many B vitamins. Even the Mayo Clinic recommends a shift towards whole grains.
Use spices and herbs to flavor food instead of table salt.
Spices and herbs contain many plant chemicals that promote healing in our bodies. When a recipe calls for a tablespoon of parsley, this gal gets fresh parsley and adds double or triple the amount. Cilantro is a natural detoxifier that I add fresh to my Mexican Chicken Soup recipe. I rarely use salt and when I do it’s Pink Himalayan or Celtic Salt.
In simple, the more plants we eat, the longer we will live. Plants include fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, herbs, and spices. Many fruits such as blueberries and apples enhance the endothelial lining of the blood vessels, which is a key to longevity. But all plants have cancer and disease-fighting chemicals, which build our immune system, nourish our gut, and provide high nutrients with low calories. These five swaps are easy and doable changes that can extend your life while enhancing your health.
For Your Health,
Ginny Dent Brant is a speaker and writer who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. She has battled cancer, ministered around the world, and served on the front lines of American culture as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate, and adjunct professor. Brant’s award-winning book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, was endorsed by Chuck Colson and featured in many TV and media interviews. Unleash Your God-Given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer was released in May 2020 after her journey with cancer and was recently awarded the First Place Golden Scrolls Award for Memoirs, and Second Place in both Selah Awards for Memoirs and Director’s Choice Award for Nonfiction at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference. It recently received the Christian Authors Network’s (CAN) Gold Award for Excellence in Marketing for reaching 62.5 million people with a message of cancer prevention and survival. It was written with commentary from an oncologist and was featured on CBN’s Healthy Living Show, Atlanta Live, and CTN’s Homekeepers along with over 75 media outlets. Learn more and cancer and wellness prevention blog and book information at www.ginnybrant.com.