Lengthen Your Life | Julie Daniluk's Guide to foods for Extreme Longevity

Do you want to live to the age of 100?

What if you could live to 100 with vitality, purpose and happiness?

Why do some people thrive well past 100 years old with mobility, mental clarity and energy?

A ‘supercentenarian’ is someone who has lived to their 110th birthday or beyond (Jeanne Louise Calment still holds the record as the longest confirmed human lifespan living 122 years, 164 days). What I find fascinating is that nearly all those who live to become supercentenarians are free of major age-related diseases like Dementia, Type II Diabetes or autoimmune diseases. Is it luck? Genes? Or do they have habits that you can apply that could lead you to graceful aging?

As an Holistic Nutritionist and anti-inflammatory expert, I have spent my life seeking an answer to this question, and the answer is a resounding, "Yes, your choices make the greatest impact on longevity."

Dan Buettner, a National Geographic explorer and author of The Blue Zones, has found distinct lifestyle secrets to longevity that everyone living over 100 with vitality has in common. The longest living people live in Ikaria, Greece; Okinawa, Japan; Ogliastra Region, Sardinia; Loma Linda, California; and Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

Before getting into diet secrets, let's review a few of the lifestyle habits that are common among those longest living on earth.

  • Do authentic movement. All long-living people get lots of exercise from physical work and play, not stair climbing at a gym. Dog walking, bike riding and gardening all count toward a “healthstyle”.
  • Have a purpose. It's important to find a place of contribution so you can stay engaged and positive as you age. Instead of retirement, many centenarians embrace jobs that they love, including running community gardens or taking care of grandchildren.
  • Love. One of the cornerstones of longevity is expressing gratitude and sharing love with your tribe. The reduction of stress dramatically reduces inflammation.
  • Eat anti-inflammatory food. Menus packed with anti-aging nutrients  have the power to enhance and extend life. A focus on plants, fibre and Omega-3 fatty acids is key, and the good news is every menu has flavourful fats that make meals taste great!

Let’s take a tour around the world to learn some of the powerful foods that are eaten in the Longevity Zones.

Seafood is popular among the long-living because it is rich in healthy Omega-3 fats. Small fish are best because they are low in toxins and high in heart healthy fat. 

Sardines may be small in size and environment footprint, yet they are mighty in healthy Omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients such as Vitamin D, Selenium and Vitamin B12. The numerous health benefits of Omega-3 fats come from their anti-inflammatory action, giving them the ability to prevent many chronic medical conditions, such as Cardiovascular Disease.

In fact, Omega-3 fatty acids can keep your unhealthy cholesterol levels in check, while increasing your healthy cholesterol levels, protecting your cardiovascular system.

Foods for Longevity inspired by Sardinia, Italy

Dandelion Greens

Dandelion greens rank high in overall nutritional value among leafy greens and are loaded with antioxidants, such as polyphenols, Vitamin A and Vitamin C. The antioxidant potential is of particular significance for longevity because it decreases oxidative stress (a critical process in the development of chronic diseases) and slows down the aging process in your cells. Dandelion greens are also wonderful at protecting your liver and supports its function as the main detoxification organ in your body, protecting you from toxins that can both age you and increase your risk of diseases.

Fennel

In Ayurveda, and Greek mythology, fennel symbolizes longevity and immortality. Part of the parsley family, it is used both as a vegetable and a spice. Fennel is well-known for its use as a natural remedy against digestive disorders, and it also acts as an anti-inflammatory food, reducing the risk of diseases and increasing antioxidant activity in the body. In addition, it affects cholesterol levels by increasing good cholesterol (HDL) and inhibiting the oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL). Between those benefits and its high content in potassium, fennel is great at supporting a healthy cardiovascular system.  

Foods for Longevity inspired by Japan

Seaweed

Seaweeds contain many bioactive compounds and polysaccharides that are not found in any other terrestrial plants and the studies comparing Japanese to Western diets have linked the consumption of seaweed to a decrease in chronic diseases such as cancer, high cholesterol and heart disease. Many seaweed species contain healthy fatty acids, such as long-chain Omega-3 fats and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), which are protective for the cardiovascular system. In addition, seaweeds have clear anticancer properties and the consumption of seaweed is inversely associated with cancer risk, especially breast cancer in premenopausal women via estrogen metabolism. 

Ginger

Rich in phytonutrients, ginger is frequently used as a spice and condiment to add flavour to food. Flavour and aroma is not the only reason you should be using ginger. It has many medicinal properties, such as decreasing inflammation, cholesterol & blood pressure, and can decrease your risk of various cancers (colorectal, ovarian, liver, skin, breast and prostate). Gingerols, shogaol, and paradols are the functional ingredients involved in promoting health and treating many ailments and slowing down the aging process in your body. 

Foods for Longevity inspired by Greece

Garlic

Garlic is a truly a wonderful plant with strong healing powers. It can kill microbes (bacteria, fungus, virus), lower blood pressure and cholesterol, thin the blood to prevent blood clots, and even prevent cancer. What makes it so powerful is that it has a higher amount of sulfur compounds than any other species among its family, compounds which are responsible for its flavour, odour and medicinal benefits. One of the most important to note is allicin. In fact, allicin is what makes garlic such a terrific natural antibiotic and can kill (as well as inhibit the growth) of many microorganisms including salmonella, E. coli, Staph aureus and H.pylori.

Olives

Olives and olive oil are staples in the diets of countries that surround the Mediterranean Sea (i.e. The Mediterranean Diet) and these countries tend to have a low incidence of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancers, and increased longevity and life expectancy. Olives are high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid, and phenols, both beneficial for cholesterol levels. Olive oil contains the highest amount of squalene among all other seasoning oils and is the ingredient responsible for chemo-protection and lower incidence of cancers seen in those who consume a Mediterranean diet. Olive oil’s components are anti-inflammatory and play a role in decreasing the inflammation involved in the process of bone resorption in postmenopausal women, decreasing the risk of osteoporosis.

Foods for Longevity inspired by California

Avocados

Consumers of avocados eat significantly more Vitamin K, Vitamin E, potassium and magnesium than those that skip out on this fruit. They are also high in B vitamins, choline, phytosterols and healthy fats, which support a wide range of health benefits. The daily addition of avocados has shown to be beneficial at keeping cholesterol levels and body weight healthy. Avocados are actually one of the few fruits that contain good levels of both Vitamin C and Vitamin E, and of xanthophylls, a class of carotenoids, all acting as antioxidants to protect against DNA damage. Not only are avocados great at increasing longevity internally, they prevent the aging of your skin due to their highly bioavailable lutein and zeaxanthin levels that protect against UV damage. 

Almonds

Despite being high in fat, almonds are quite nutritious and promote health. They contain lots of healthy fats, fibre, magnesium and Vitamin E. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats and their consumption is linked to a lower risk for heart disease, and lower cholesterol levels. Additionally, the Vitamin E (tocopherols) found in almonds is strongly antioxidant and prevents  cholesterol from becoming oxidized. The magnesium content is fantastic at lowering blood pressure by relaxing the muscle layer in the arteries. 

Spirulina

Spirulina is a micro-alga, rich in carotenoids and antioxidant compounds. Spirulina has been reported to decrease oxidative stress and lower cholesterol levels. The exact ingredients in spirulina responsible for lowering cholesterol levels are still unknown, though it's thought that it is phycocyanin, a protein in spirulina. Phycocyanin is an important ingredient, along with beta-carotenoids, which potentially help protect against cancer due to their antioxidant action and immune-modulation characteristics. Spirulina is low in calories and high in nutrients, iodine, folate and magnesium. 

Foods for Longevity inspired by Costa Rica

Cocoa

Not only is cocoa really pleasurable to eat, it also contains approximately 380 bioactive compounds, such as polyphenols (catechins) and methylxanthines. In fact, cocoa has a higher level of phenols than green tea and red wine, making it a powerful antioxidant. Studies show that the regular consumption of polyphenol-rich cocoa is inversely associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease and protects against high blood pressure and cancer. The high polyphenol profile increases HDL, decreases LDL, and improves blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

Coconut

Coconut has many different parts and uses. The liquid water portion contains a high level of B vitamins, enzymes, amino acids and Vitamin C, whereas the dried kernel (copra) is mainly fat and used for oil extraction. The fatty acid profile of coconut is what makes it one of today’s most popular superfoods. Coconut oil is one of the richest sources of saturated fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). MCTs are absorbed and used quickly as a source of energy or converted to ketone bodies, beneficial for brain health. Coconuts and coconut oil also contain flavonoids and other polyphenols that act as antioxidants, protecting you from free radicals, oxidation of LDL cholesterol, as well as cancer.

 

Dandelion References

  1. Al-Malki A., Abo-Golayel M., Abo-Elnaga G., Al-Beshri H. “Hepatoprotective effect of dandelion against induced chronic liver cirrhosis”. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research. (2013); 7: 1494-1505. http://www.academicjournals.org/article/article1380726574_Al-Malki%20et%20al.pdf
  2. Fiedor J., Burda K. “Potential role of carotenoids as antioxidants in human health and disease”. Nutrients. (2014); 6: 466-488. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3942711/
  3. Ozcan M., Paksoy M., Unver A. “The antioxidant capacity and total phenol contents of leave and roots of Taraxacumofficinale”. Journal of AgroalimentaryProcesses and Technologies. (2012); 18: 270-271. http://www.journal-of-agroalimentary.ro/admin/articole/90780L03_Guneyk_Vol.18_4_2012_270-271.pdf

Fennel References

  1. Choi E., Hwang J. “Antiinflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant activities of the fruit of Foeniculum vulgare”. Fitoterapia. (2004); 557-565. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15351109
  2. Willcox D., Willcox B., Todoriki H., Suzuki M. “The Okinawan diet: health implications of a low-calorie, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich dietary pattern low in glycemic load”. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. (2009); 28: 500S-516S. http://www.okicent.org/docs/500s_willcox_okinawa_diet.pdf

Sardines References

  1. Zhang R., Naughton D. “Vitamin D in health and disease: Current perspective”. Nutrition Journal. (2010); 9: 65. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21143872
  2. Kris-Etherton P. Harris W., Appel L. “Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease”.Circulation. (2002); 106: 2747-2757. http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/21/2747
  3. Bulliyya G. “Influence of fish consumption on the distribution of serum cholesterol in lipoprotein fractions: comparative study among fish-consuming and non-fish-consuming population”. Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2002); 11: 104-111. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1440-6047.2002.00256.x/abstract

Seaweed References

  1. Brown E., Allsopp P., Magee P., Gill C., Nitecki S., Strain C., McSorley E. “Seaweed and human health”. Nutrition Reviews. (2014): 72; 205-216. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nure.12091/abstract
  2. Willcox D., Willcox B., Todoriki H., Suzuki M. “The Okinawan diet: health implications of a low-calorie, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich dietary pattern low in glycemic load”. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. (2009); 28: 500S-516S. http://www.okicent.org/docs/500s_willcox_okinawa_diet.pdf

Ginger References

  1. Mashhadi N., Ghiasvand R., Askari G., Hariri M., Darvishi L., Mofid M. “Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence”. Int J PrevMed. (2013); 4: S36-S42. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/

Garlic References

  1. Gebreyohannes G., Gebreyohannes M. “Medicinal values of garlic: a review”. International Journal of Medicine and Medical Sciences. (2013); 5: 401-408. http://www.academicjournals.org/article/article1378915996_Gebreyohannes%20and%20Gebreyohannes.pdf
  2. Bayan L., Koulivand P., Gorji A. “Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects”. Avicenna J Phytomed. (2014); 4: 1-14.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/

Olive References

  1. Omar S. “Olive: native of Mediterranean region and health benefits”. Pharmacognosy Reviews. (2008); 2: 135-142. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/
  2. 201820717_Olive_Native_of_Mediterranean_region_and_Health_benefits
  3. Del Rio L., Gutierrez-Casado E., Varela-Lopez A., Villalba J. “Olive oil and the hallmarks of aging”. Molecules. (2016); 21: 1-30. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26840281

Avocado References

  1. Dreher M., Davenport A. “Hass avocado composition and potential health effects”. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. (2013); 53: 738-750. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3664913/

Almond References

  1. Ros E. “Health benefits of nut consumption”. Nutrients. (2010); 2: 652-682. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257681/
  2. Jenkins D., Kendall C., MArchie A., Parker T., Connelly P., Quian W., HaightJ., Faulkner D., Vidgen E., Lapsley K., Spiller G. “Dose response of almonds on coronary heart disease risk factors: blood lipids, oxidized low-density lipoproteins, lipoprotein(a), homocysteine, and pulmonary nitric oxide: a randomized, controlled, crossover trial”. Circulation. (2002); 106: 1327-1332. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12221048

Spirulina References

  1. Willcox D., Willcox B., Todoriki H., Suzuki M. “The Okinawan diet: health implications of a low-calorie, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich dietary pattern low in glycemic load”. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. (2009); 28: 500S-516S. http://www.okicent.org/docs/500s_willcox_okinawa_diet.pdf
  2. Deng R., Chow T. “Hypolipidemic, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of microalgae spirulina”. Cardiovasc Ther. (2010); 28: e33-e45. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907180/
  3. Karkos P., Leong S., Karkos C., Sivaj N., Assimakopoulos D. “Spirulina in clinical pactice: evidence-based human applications”. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2011); 4. http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/531053/

Cocoa References

  1. Andjuar I., Recio M., Giner R., Rios J. “Cocoa polyphenols and their potential benefits for human health”. Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity. (2012); http://www.hindawi.com/journals/omcl/2012/906252/
  2. Franco R., Onatibia-Astibia A., Martinez-Pinilla E. “Health benefits of methylxanthines in cacao and chocolate”. Nutrients. (2013); 5: 4159-4173. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3820066/
  3. Goya L., Martin M., Sarria B., Ramos S., Mateos R., Bravo L. “Effect of cocoa and its flavonoids on biomarkers of inflammation: studies of cell culture, animals and humans”. Nutrients. (2016); 8: 212. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27070643

Coconut References

  1. Boemeke L., Marcadenti A., Busnello F., Gottschall C. “Effects of coconut oil on human health”. Journal of Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases. (2015); 5: 84-87. http://www.scirp.org/journal/Paperinformation.aspx?PaperID=58405
  2. DebMandal M., Mandal S. “Coconut: in health promotion and disease prevention”. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine. (2011); 241-247. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1995764511600783

For more interesting facts on longevity:

  1. Buettner, Dan (2012-11-06). The Blue Zones, Second Edition: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest. National Geographic Books. ISBN 9781426209499.

Go on, get the life you deserve!

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