How can we make food choices that help us lower inflammation and live longer and healthier lives? Here are four scientifically-backed diet tweaks that can make a difference.
Eat Less Sugar
Americans, on average, eat 17 teaspoons of added sugars per day, totaling 57 pounds in a year. The term added sugars refers to sugars that don’t occur naturally in food (like they do in fiber-filled berries) but are added into cereal, syrup, candy, soda, white bread, and a morning cup of coffee. “Simple carbs wreak more havoc on our metabolism and control over our appetite than other types of foods,” writes Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn, PhD, and her co-author Elissa Epel, PhD, in “The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier and Longer.” In their book, Blackburn and Epel say that eating less sugar is one of the most impactful changes you can make to improve metabolic health and enhance your longevity. Prevent “Inflammaging” with an anti-inflammatory diet According to Dr. David Sinclair, Phd, a global pioneer in the science of longevity, member of the TB12 Scientific Advisory Board, and author of the book, Lifespan: Why We Age — and Why We Don’t Have To,” chronic inflammation fuels the aging process weight “Being chronically inflamed is unhealthy. Inflammation is so central to the development of age-related diseases that scientists often refer to the process as ‘inflammaging.’”How does Sinclair eat to beat back inflammation? He eats little meat, preferring foods rich with nutrients, enzymes, and fiber; in particular fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
Eat the Rainbow
To bolster cellular health and longevity, Sinclair says, choose fruits and vegetables with bright, vivid colors — like the color of the rainbow. “The idea is that stressed plants produce chemicals for themselves that tell their cells to hunker down and survive,” Sinclair explains. By eating stressed, colored plants (like beets, grapes, kale, squash, apples, peppers, red onions, and blueberries), Sinclair says, we will be consuming molecules that turn on our genetic “survival circuits,” meaning they’ll switch on longevity-promoting genes.
Get Your Omega
3s Omega-3 fatty acids in your blood can buffer the cellular decay that occurs in aging. “Research suggests that you should be making consumption of omega-3s a priority,” Blackburn and Epel declare. Omega-3s help shield against chronic inflammation and are incorporated into cell membranes throughout the body, aiding cellular stability. Also, it’s well-established that people with higher blood levels of omega-3s have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. To get more omega-3s, make a point of consuming nuts, seeds, oily fish, flaxseed, and a quality omega-3 supplement.
A Commonsense Approach
The scientifically supported bottom line? To invest in longevity, make commonsense food choices a part of your daily routine. As Tom Brady sums up the TB12 approach to a longevity diet, being "commensensical" is what it's all about “The negative effects of eating too many refined carbohydrates, which are in junk foods and fast foods, include excessive insulin production, excessive fat storage, and elevated blood sugar levels. I try to keep my insulin levels balanced, since the more stable they are, the lower my inflammation rates will be. For that reason, I try to avoid eating anything that comes in a box or a bag, as well as foods containing white flour or added sugars. That means I try to limit cereal, white bread, white rice, pasta, cakes, and cookies. Less inflammation is the key for me.”