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As I was researching my newest book Radical Longevity, I took a good hard look at the longest living populations from Okinawa, Japan, Sardinia, Italy, to Costa Rica, Greece, Loma Linda, California, and the Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe.
What were they doing differently? Was it just good genes? Apparently not, because according to a Danish population-based Twin Study on health, genetics only accounts for about 20% to 30% of longevity factors. So, as I like to say, “your DNA is simply not your destiny”!
Long life is all about diet and lifestyle. SuperAgers tend to eat fewer calories but enjoy nutrient-dense, wholesome, unprocessed foods. They stop eating when they feel about 80% full, eating more slowly and enjoying meals as a time to pause and relax during the day. So, what could be easier than eating your way to a longer, more vibrant life!
Here are my Top 5 Longevity Foods that SuperAgers enjoy on a daily or weekly basis, and you should be incorporating as much as possible:
Blueberries are my #1 favorite fruit for living long and strong. These tiny berries are bursting with vitality – just like you will be when you add them to your daily diet. Blueberries are low in calories but higher in cell-protecting antioxidants – including the powerful cholesterol fighter resveratrol – than any other common fruit or vegetable.
Just one cup of blueberries contains more than 25% of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C and 4 grams of fiber as well as vitamin K and manganese to help prevent osteoporosis and joint inflammation. They contain significant amounts of both antibacterial and antiviral compounds and may even help protect you from heart disease and cancer!
The tannins in blueberries serve to cleanse the digestive system and promote a healthy urinary tract by preventing bacterial growth. They contain insoluble fiber which prevents their total calories from being absorbed. And their naturally sweet, but low amount of fructose makes them a perfect, guilt-free snack for satisfying a sweet tooth.
Broccoli needs to be high on your list of healthy veggies if you care to have better eyesight, lower your risk of heart disease and cancer, and renew the youthful glow of your skin. High in antioxidants, sulfur and vitamin C, broccoli is an excellent detoxifier. It also contains omega 3s, amino acids and folate to keep your skin radiant. Rich in beta-carotene, phosphorus, zeaxanthin and B vitamins, broccoli is excellent for protecting your eyes from age-related diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts.
If that’s not enough to send you into the kitchen to steam some broccoli for dinner, how about its ability to help regulate blood pressure? It’s high in chromium which helps insulin to function properly by regulating blood sugar and helping to keep blood pressure in check. Broccoli also can’t be beat for its immune system strengthening minerals such as selenium, zinc, phosphorus, and copper. And did you know that broccoli is an excellent source of calcium? It provides 47 milligrams per 100 grams of calcium to help prevent osteoporosis or weakening of the bones and teeth.
And don’t forget fresh broccoli sprouts! They contain the highest known source of vital phytonutrients, indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane, which aid the liver in its ability to process and neutralize toxins. Our body's detoxification system is broken down into 2 phases. In Phase 1, detoxifying enzymes begin to process the metabolites. In Phase 2, the enzymes process metabolites which are broken down so they can easily be excreted out of your body.
Sulforaphane increases the production of Phase 2 enzymes, protecting DNA from free radicals and promoting immune system health. With the ability to affect over two thousand genes, activating numerous defense mechanisms and neutralizing free radicals, sulforaphane is an extremely potent toxicity zapper. That’s why I like to recommend the activated sulforaphane product from CS Health, which is 1000x more concentrated than broccoli extract. For those that have had a history of cancer, I suggest a couple capsules daily for maintenance and for those who want to prevent any type of cancer that may run in the family, take four capsules per day as a preventative.
Beets are one of the most regenerative foods for your body, making them longevity rock stars well worth adding to your daily diet. Beets aid digestion, thin the bile, cleanse the liver, alkalize the blood, and even improve cognitive function and sports performance. They are rich in potassium, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron, folate, vitamin B6, nitrates, fiber – and more. The betalains in beets partner with glutathione to help your body detoxify.
If you’re concerned about weight loss, beets are your best friend because of their benefits for your liver and gallbladder. They contain betaine, which thins the bile that your liver uses to excrete toxins and helps to break down fats so they can be used for fuel, instead of padding your hips and thighs. Bile deficiency is very common for those of us over 60 and especially more so for those without a gallbladder. For those with their gallbladder intact, betaine also helps prevent gallstones. And it even increases serotonin, helping to boost your mood.
One of the reasons I recommend UNI KEY Health’s Bile Builder is because it contains betaine from beet root to help promote thin, free-flowing bile and is a rich source of hydrochloric acid to aid digestion. It also contains choline to assist with fat digestion, taurine to help bile excrete toxins from the liver, pancreatic lipase to help further break down fats as a digestive enzyme, and ox bile to provide important bile salts helpful for people with or without a gallbladder.
The most interesting finding of all was regarding barley. It was the most common grain eaten by the SuperAgers and I wondered why. I knew it was rich in soluble fiber and it was also a great source of magnesium, but what I discovered is that it is also one of the highest known food sources of silica (a major antagonist to aluminum).
Hulled barley is considered a whole grain, as only the outer shell has been removed during processing, whereas the more commonly available pearled barley is not a whole grain because the fiber-containing bran has been removed. Keep that in mind as you consider adding this lovely grain to your cereal, soups, and stews, and even as a base for hummus.
The benefits of whole-grain barley stem from not only its fiber content but also its phytonutrients, which are plant compounds with significant health benefits including antioxidants, immunity, neuro-protective, anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and hormone regulation.
I like barley grass even better because its unique phytonutrients help repair DNA. It is also rich in chlorophyll. And, barley grass contains anti-inflammatory enzymes and antioxidants that protect against radiation.
When I reach for my favorite source of barley grass, I reach for Daily Greens Formula, which not only has a high content of barley grass, but it also contains a perfect blend of 11 organic super greens to boost my daily nutrient intake. Add a scoop to a glass of water or simply toss a scoop into your morning smoothie.
Last, but not least, another common food for longevity eaten by SuperAgers is none other than beans. It comes as no huge surprise that beans are one of the highest fiber-containing foods on earth. Several studies have shown that fiber-rich foods regulate blood-sugar levels, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, help control obesity, breast, and colon cancer, and gastrointestinal disorders.
And it is critically important to note that without adequate soluble fiber, bile is recirculated in our body rather than being ushered out of the body. When this happens, it becomes toxic and often leads to intestinal inflammation, gallbladder, and liver disease, and skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne.
Adding beans to your diet can be one of the most important health habits you can incorporate because of their nutrient and fiber content. However, as SuperAgers know, it is important to reduce the lectin content to reduce damaging the lining of your digestive tract and prevent gas or bloating. To do this, I recommend soaking your beans through a “presoak cycle.”
Soak for at least 12 hours before cooking and add apple cider vinegar to the water. The addition of baking soda is said to boost lectin neutralization. And cooking beans for at least 15 minutes on high heat is said to reduce lectin toxicity by 500 percent.
May you live to 110 and enjoy these 5 “B-foods” listed above to boost your longevity, optimize health and live your best life! For more radical tips on longevity, be sure to check out my book, Radical Longevity.