‘Avoid certain foods to extend lifespan’ – expert recommends diet

Loose Women: Dr Hilary discusses how to live longer

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Diet can have a major impact on many bodily functions and eating a healthy diet has long been shown to maintain these as people continue to age. The NHS Eatwell Guide shows to have a healthy, balanced diet, people should try to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day, base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta, have some hair or diary alternatives, and eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein.

According to David Wiener, Training and Nutrition Specialist at AI-based fitness and lifestyle coaching app Freeletics, processed foods may seem like a quick and easy fix for your hunger, and even marketed as a healthy choice, but to extend your lifespan processed foods should be avoided where possible.

He said: “Healthy food doesn’t take long to make, and if you know you have a busy week – food prep is key. Food preparation is key to any weight loss plan, and it will make all the difference to a healthier, happier life.”

David also recommended the Mediterranean diet, full of fresh, organic and seasonal produce, to help people live longer.

“Avoiding heavily processed and packaged foods and adopting this style of eating is believed to decrease the risk of heart disease, depression, and dementia,” he said.

“A Mediterranean diet is packed full of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish and whole grains.

“Dairy is consumed in moderation, whilst quantities of red meat and processed food such as carbohydrates and unhealthy fats, are low.

“The main reason as to why this diet is so beneficial and can help you live longer is because most of these foods are anti-inflammatory.”

David recommended four other daily habits that could help to extend a person’s lifespan.

1. Make everything active

Regular physical activity can lower your chances of heart disease, diabetes, some forms of cancer and depression, said David.

“Exercise isn’t just a means to weight loss, but it is one of the most effective health tools available for a happy, healthier and longer life. By exercising and keeping your muscles active, your body will pump more blood around your body, and with-it oxygen and nutrients that will help your body stay healthy.

“There are so many things you can do to be more active on a daily basis, like taking the stairs instead of a lift, or walking instead of using the car. These small changes over a long period of time can make a really big difference.

“If you want to get more active and are stuck for ideas, need guidance on how to get started, or simply want to try something new, fitness apps such as Freeletics (www.freeletics.com) can be incredibly beneficial. Free to download, Freeletics includes an almost infinite number of workouts which can be tailored to your fitness ability and goals, as well as the time you have available.”

2. Good quality sleep

Sleep is crucial, giving your body a chance to rest and regenerate.

David said: “Research shows that consistently sleeping less than six hours a night nearly doubles your risk of heart attack and stroke. Prioritising sleep and doing your best to ensure you get at least seven to eight hours each night can pay dividends when it comes to increasing your lifespan.

“To ensure you get a good night’s sleep try creating a sleep schedule, going to bed at the same time each night and waking up at the same time each day. Also make sure you switch off any electronics at least an hour before bed as the blue light emitted from some devices can stimulate the brain and keep you awake.”

3. Slow down

Stress causes your body to release a hormone called cortisol. At high levels, this hormone can increase blood pressure and cause storage of abdominal fat, both of which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease and shorten your life.


David said: “Both stress and anxiety are at an all-time high, so it’s important to make significant lifestyle changes which can help you to manage your stress levels and in the long-term reduce the amount of stress you’re under. Living in the fast lane can really affect your health and wellbeing. To combat the effects of stress try slowing down and being fully present in your life rather than worrying about your future. This can really help you to enjoy life, rather than just live it.

“Being present with the people around you will remind you what makes you happy in life, rather than focusing on the negatives and trying to get everything done – so much so you end up stressing yourself out even more. Slowing down can also help to clear your mind resulting in better decisions, healthier choices and more meaningful experiences – what better way to improve your mental wellbeing.”

4. Positive thinking

A negative outlook can be damaging to your health and wellbeing.

David explained: “When you negatively self-talk, it can really hinder everything you are trying to achieve. Adopting a positive outlook and a can-do attitude can help to make you feel better and impact your self-worth.

“Of course, life events can condition us to have a more negative view of things, but taking that negative and turning it into a positive can really change your whole life. For long term effects, make sure to have a positive self-talk daily, and take part in mindfulness techniques which are especially helpful in giving you the chance to focus on positivity, and being kind to yourself. Being kind to yourself reinforces the positive chemicals flowing through our bodies and minds, which can help extend life span. Remember, a happy life is a longer life.”


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