5 Simple Things to Live Longer, Better
It’s Simple, Easy, Simple, Easy… Just Needs Doing!
LAST NIGHT I was clicking through the channels seeking an insightful, and dare I hope — fair — review of President Obama’s Health Summit. I did find the fawning gesticulations of Chris Matthews on MSNBC, and the regurgitation of Republican talking points on FOX.
Thinking that I’d have to get the balanced review I wanted from the newspaper the next morning, I was about to shut down the idiot box, when I stumbled upon a topic close to the heart of this blog — longevity.
It appeared that CNN’s medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, was in Anderson Cooper’s seat at the moment directing traffic, sort-of-speak, and moderating interviews. I alighted upon his interview with Dan Buettner of “Blue Zone” fame. (Watch another interview with him here.) They were talking about common habits among those people in those geographies ( the so-called “Blue Zones”) that researchers believe is behind their startling longevity and vigor.
Without further adieu, I’ll quickly list these behaviors and then get into some details, cause the particulars are important.
The five things to do that will help you live a longer and more vital life:
1. Eat a big breakfast.
2. Eat more vegetables and fruits; minimize meat.
3. Eat beans.
4. Eat nuts.
5. Have sex.
Now, let’s dive into each of them, one by one.
If you haven’t heard by now, ad nauseum, that it’s important to eat a substantial breakfast, then… well, I’ll just repeat it: People who eat a healthy breakfast (not a bagel, not a granola bar) are less likely to be fat, and — if dieting — will lose weight more quickly.
Eat a healthy breakfast consisting of the three macronutrients: (healthy) fat, protein and carbs. A healthy fat would be an omega-3 fatty acid such as flax seed or fish oil; a good protein could be eggs, almonds, walnuts, or a whey protein supplement; and a good, complex carb (meaning it is slowly digested and absorbed to produce consistent energy for your body), like whole cut (not instant) oatmeal, or beans and brown rice (probably with salsa and eggs). If available and you can afford it, choose organic.
What I do. I have two examples of my typical breakfasts that I relish: “Oatmeal Gorgeola” and “Yogurt Plus”. (Yes, I made those names up… don’t google them.)
- Oatmeal Gorgeola. Either cook the slow-cook (45 minutes) steel cut, organic oatmeal or the 10-minute organic whole cut variety, and mix in chopped apple, banana, figs (or your favorite fruits). Add chopped almonds, walnuts, and/or sunflower seeds. Add toasted flax seeds or sprinkle flax seed powder. Mix some milk or almond milk (what I use) with some unflavored whey protein powder (I use Immuneplex cause it’s very high quality and has no flavorings or other extraneous garbage in it) and add it to the oatmeal. If needed, sweeten (slightly) with molasses, xytilol, stevia or maple syrup (only use organic). Lastly, I sprinkle quiet a bit of cinnamon over all of it. So, here you get all three macro-nutrients. Oats are the complex carbs; fruits are carbs (simple but their glucose spike effect will be moderated by the fats and complex carbs in the meal, and the fiber contained in the whole fruit itself); and healthy fat in the form of flax seeds and nuts. The cinnamon has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties, and reduces the glycemic index (measuring how quickly carbs spike blood sugar) of anything eaten with it.
- Yogurt Plus. Here I use unsweetened, no fruit, low fat (not “no-fat” — too many calories, surprisingly) plain yogurt, to which is added blueberries (defrost frozen blueberries when fresh are unavailable), banana, apple, chopped nuts (usually almonds), sunflower seeds, flax seeds (notice a pattern?) and cinnamon. Before I add all this, I mix Immuneplex (whey protein) into the yogurt for extra protein. Again, all of the macronutrients are present: Healthy fat from the nuts; protein from the nuts and whey; and carbs from the fruit.
Veggies and Fruits
Not only is it important to eat more fruits and vegetables, but to replace some of your meat consumption with these staples. The Blue Zone people do eat meat, but with two important distinctions in comparison to non-Blue people: 1. The animals that give up their flesh have not been “hormoned”, “antibioticated” or corn fed — rather, they’re raised naturally; and 2. Blue Zoners eat very little meat (as opposed to fish).
Try to limit your consumption of meat to two servings a week, each the size of a pack of cards.
Instead of all that meat, discover several types of vegetables and fruits that you enjoy, and simple recipes for combining them into great meals.
What I do. This post would be overlong if I portrayed my entire diet (and you can delve into the topic at Diet 101 and A Blueprint for Eating Right), so suffice to say here that I often steam broccoli, kale, cauliflower, beats and squash. I then pile that over a big bed of raw spinach, and add various nuts, seeds, crumbled feta cheese, and dress it in one of several healthy dressings; typically just a good quality extra virgin, cold pressed olive oil mixed with apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar (sparingly cause of the sugar in it). Chow down!
How simple is this. You don’t even have to soak and cook them (soaking reduces the cooking time substantially) — there are at least five types of beans widely available pre-cooked, in cans, on your grocer’s shelf and ready to go. Experiment with beans; some are very hearty and exhibit a meat-like taste and texture. (Check out the Mayo Clinic’s excellent rendition on beans and legumes.)
Why bother? Because beans are a good source of protein and are full of fiber, which is one reason the Blue Zoners — big eaters of beans– live long and vitally.
What I do. I often add beans to that veggie dish I mentioned above. Vary the bean, vary the veggies, vary the dressing and you have a variety of meals.
I’m nuts about nuts. They offer fiber, healthy fat and protein. Of course, you need to recognize that nuts are calorie dense because they contain a lot of fat, so be satisfied with a small handful. The Blue Zone researchers contend that the regular consumption of nuts can add two years to your life.
What I do. Yep, it’s true — I add them to that veggie/spinach bowl mentioned above, at least from time to time. I favor almonds and sun flower seeds (yes, a seed, but nut-like).
The key here is not sex for sex sake, nor a frequency approximating rabbits (or male lions — up to 50 times a day during mating season, I’ve read). No, the idea is sex for the sake of emotional intimacy. If the emotional connection is a part of it, regular sex lowers the rate of depression, keeps things… uh…. lubricated, and ultimately adds years to your life.
What I do. Ha! Well, in this case, not much. This is not something I can pull off my shelf and add to my bowl of spinach, so for the time being, I’ll just have to do more of the first four of this list with the aim of extending — and making more vital — my years left on this planet.
OK, you’re now armed with some good information and know-how. I hope you agree that these are easy things to do, and are worth doing.