Blue Zone diet could help you reach 100 years of age, doctor shares

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While there are too many factors at play that influence your longevity, a healthy diet is a good start.

Thanks to the high number of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants hidden in smart dietary choices, certain foods can add more than a flavour and colour to your daily routine.

Dr Shireen Kassam, a founder of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK, said: “We have known for decades that a healthy diet can positively impact life span and health span.

“A useful source of information are observations from the regions around the world, where people live the longest, healthiest lives, termed the Blue Zones, and are more likely to reach 100 years of age than anywhere else in the world.”

From Okinawa to Sardinia and Nicoya to Ikaria, Blue Zones detail five places around the world that are characterised by high intake of vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes.

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These nutrient-dense foods have been linked to a lower risk of longevity-threatening health problems, such as heart disease or stroke.

While what they include is crucial, the foods avoided in Blue Zones also play a role.

People living in these countries often don’t eat much meat, dairy, refined sugars and processed foods.

Dr Kassam said: “The Blue Zones share in common a diet that is predominantly or exclusively plant-based, with an emphasis on consuming beans as the main source of protein. 

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“Recent studies have confirmed that shifting to a more plant-based diet at any age is beneficial. 

“The reason being is that plant foods are full of health-promoting nutrients such as fibre, polyphenols, vitamins and minerals and hundreds of phytochemicals that act together to reduce the risk of chronic conditions by promoting better gut health, reducing inflammation and improving glucose regulation.”

On the flip side, living with these health problems can lay the groundwork to a whole host of health problems, ranging from cancer to dementia.

Reducing your risk of these longevity-threatening conditions could therefore complement your lifespan.

But don’t just take the doctor’s word for it, as research, published in the journal PLOS Medicine, also highlights the positive effects of plant-based food regimens on longevity.

The research team found that shifting to a more plant-based diet from the age of 20 could increase your life expectancy by 10.7 years in women and 13 years in men. 

“The largest gains were shown to occur by eating more legumes (females: 2.2 years; males: 2.5 years), whole grains (females: 2.0; males: 2.3 years), and nuts (females: 1.7 years; males: 2.0 years),” the doctor added.

Furthermore, change towards a more plant-based diet at the age of 60 was also linked to longer lifespans.

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