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Abraham Lincoln once said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” True. But also… a few more years couldn’t hurt. (See also: Live Long and Prosper With These Healthy Habits)
Over the last 150 years, human life expectancy has doubled, mainly due to modern medicine, technology, and advances in diet. How can you make sure you’re taking full advantage? To live longer and healthier, incorporate these incredible foods into your diet.
1. Vitamin D
You may have heard about these wondrous things called telomeres, the tips of DNA whose length has been proven to correlate with longevity. Vitamin D acquired through a wide variety of sources including sunlight, dairy, and fatty fish like salmon and tuna directly impacts the length of telomeres. The more vitamin D we have, the longer our telomeres. Milk, it does a body good.
Much of our immunity, the ability to prevent and fight disease, lives in the flora of our gut. Sugar and highly-processed foods (essentially almost any food product that has a commercial on television!) eats away at our fabulous flora. To maintain healthy flora levels, eat a healthy dose of foods that are high in probiotics such as pickled and fermented veggies and yogurt.
Antioxidants are compounds that reduce the likelihood of disease and fight aging. Luckily, they can be found in a wide variety of foods. Some of the most potent antioxidants are in a class called polyphenols, and they’re found in foods such as organic raw chocolate and green tea.
4. Vitamin B12
Keep your energy pumping by getting your fill of vitamin B12. B12 is involved in the production of nerve cells, red blood cells, and DNA. It’s also heavily involved in brain health. Vegans and vegetarians have a tough time getting enough B12 because it is found in greatest abundance in meat, fish, and dairy so if you are vegan or vegetarian you can get a synthetic form of B12 in fortified cereals and tofu.
Indian cuisine makes full use of this magical spice so it’s no wonder that people from India often have very long life expectancies. Turmeric contains curcumin, an active ingredient proven to fight inflammation and blocks cancer-causing pathways in cells. It’s also perfect sprinkled on roasted veggies, salads, and even in smoothies.
6. Vitamin A
Found in great abundance in carrots, sweet potatoes, and dark leafy greens such as kale, vitamin A fights infection and improves eye health. But be a bit careful with this one because it is possible to have too much of this good thing, and that causes nausea and irritability. One helping of any of these veggies per day provides you with more than enough to stay healthy without making you sick.
Modern medicine is a marvel and we’re so lucky to have it. However, the food we eat has just as much to do with our health as any miracle drug, and probably more. Incorporate these foods into your diet and you’ll be living in up while living well. Buon appetitto!