If you’re willing to do everything you can to reduce the dreaded effects of aging, you’re not alone. Millions of people across the country are trying new diet trends, workout routines, supplement cycles, and more just to look and feel younger. One of the greatest benefits of longevity dieting is promoting autophagy in the body. To do this, you need a diet that either limits the number of calories you eat, the amount of time you eat, and/or limits the types of nutrients you eat. Here are some of the diets that can help you achieve that.
1. Blue Zone Diets (Geographic Based Diets)
Blue zones are areas around the world with an extremely high percentage of nonagenarians and centenarians. They also have low rates of chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and obesity. Instead of blue zone diet weight loss, these areas focus more on longevity.
What Makes a Blue zone?
The areas of the world that are considered Blue Zones have populations who’s diets are rich in plants. While four of the five blue zones consume some meat, they do so sparingly, eating plants 95% of the time. In fact, people in these zones only eat meat on average five times per month, in portions that are about two ounces or less. Popular blue zone deserts include matcha custard, chocolate mousse, chocolate fondue, and peach tarts.
What Are The Five Blue Zones?
These areas with a higher percentage of centenarians than other parts of the world were deemed blue zones by author and National Geographic explorer Dan Buettner. In 2000, he went on a quest to find the secrets these zones possessed to longevity. Interestingly enough, these zones are scattered throughout the world and share hardly any geographical similarities. The five zones are:
- Ikaria, Greece
- Okinawa, Japan
- Ogliastra Region, Sardinia
- Loma Linda, California
- The Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
These blue zones all share similarities in their diet. They believe you should stop eating when your stomach is 80% full, you should eat the smallest meal of the day in the late afternoon or evening, you should eat mostly plants, and you should drink alcohol moderately and regularly.
What do Blue Zones Eat For Breakfast?
People in the blue zones believe that breakfast should be one of, if not the biggest meal of the day. A popular dish is a tofu scramble, made with tofu, onion, and peppers. The dish provides a similar taste and texture as scrambled eggs without the fat. The idea behind these meals is to provide a low amount of fat with a high amount of protein.
Another popular breakfast meal is a corn tortilla with beans and squash. Beans are very popular in blue zone diets because they provide a protein replacement in lieu of meat. As you may notice, most of the blue zone breakfast dishes are without meat.
Do They Fast?
While fasting isn’t necessarily commonplace in the blue zones, it does happen. For example, Ikaria is mostly populated by Greek Orthodox Christians, a religious group that has many periods of fasting throughout the year. Studies have found that fasting during these religious holidays can lower blood cholesterol and body mass index.
Blue zones practice a different type of fasting, saving smaller meals for later in the day, whereas most other areas of the world choose to eat their biggest meal during these times. Intermittent fasting provides numerous health benefits including promoting autophagy in your body. This is the process of new cells replacing old dying, or already dead, cells in your body. Promoting autophagy is a key part of the anti-aging process.
Do Blue Zones Drink Coffee?
Many of us begrudgingly make our way to the coffee pot every morning so we can get that much-needed boost to get our day started. However, coffee provides many additional health benefits on top of helping us not mope around like zombies all day. In fact, coffee is a daily ritual in blue zone areas.
Most centenarians in blue zone regions drink up to two or three cups of black coffee per day. This is because it provides essential antioxidants, can improve mood, lowers inflammation, and lowers the risk of type 2 diabetes. Blue zones centenarians also drink plenty of water, tea, and wine.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF BLUE ZONE DIETS
Several popular types of diets actually fall under the Blue Zones. Here are the top 3 types of diets that you can implement in your life:
A. Mediterranean Diet
People living along the Mediterranean Sea often live longer and suffer less from chronic diseases than most Americans. Part of the reason this is possible is due to an active lifestyle, weight control, and a diet low in red meat, sugar, and saturated fat. This type of diet has been linked to weight loss, heart and brain health, cancer prevention, autophagy stimulation, and diabetes prevention.
Of course, the Mediterranean diet isn’t without drawbacks of its own. Obtaining the food necessary to follow the diet can either require a lot of grunt work or can run up a hefty price tag. But if you can regularly follow the Mediterranean diet, you can reap its many health benefits.
Mediterranean Diet Food List
It’s important to note that there isn’t a set-in-stone Mediterranean diet with a daily Mediterranean diet checklist to follow. The Greeks eat differently than the Italians who eat differently than the French and Spanish. However, they share many of the same principles. Those principles include:
- Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats
- Weekly intake of fish, poultry, beans, and eggs
- A moderate portion of dairy products
- Limited intake of red meat
Some of the essential foods that are common throughout most Mediterranean diets include extra virgin olive oil, seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds, and leafy greens.
What Do You Eat For Breakfast on The Mediterranean Diet?
Much like all the other meals, Mediterranean diet recipes for breakfast emphasizes fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Foods such as avocados and eggs are popular in Mediterranean diets and make for great breakfast foods. Here are some breakfast ideas for the Mediterranean diet:
- Caprese avocado toast
- Eggs with summer tomatoes
- Crispy white beans
- Breakfast grain salad
- Vegetarian minestrone soup
- Spinach feta breakfast wraps
- Avocado and egg breakfast pizza
These meals are all tasty and provide you the energy boost you need to start your day. On top of that, they are incredibly healthy and promote longevity. They do this by helping prevent chronic diseases and cardiovascular diseases, the number one killer in America.
What Foods Are Not Allowed on the Mediterranean Diet?
Any food high in processed carbohydrates or sugar should be avoided on the Mediterranean diet. Now, this isn’t to say that you can never eat these foods again. However, you should eat these foods in moderation, treating them more like a luxury than a part of your regular diet. Here are some foods you should try to avoid while on the Mediterranean diet:
- White bread, white pasta, and pizza dough
- Refined oils
- Pastries, sodas, and candies
- Deli meats, hot dogs, and other processed meats
- Processed or packaged foods
Again, you don’t need to cut these foods out of your diet forever. But limiting the amount you eat these foods to once a week or maybe even once or twice a month will greatly increase your longevity.
As we mentioned earlier, Okinawa, Japan, is one of the world’s five blue zones. Here, people enjoy longer lives and better overall health than people in other parts of the world including the United States. For example, there are 68 centenarians for every 100,000 inhabitants in Okinawa, more than triple the amount found in the US.
Even by Japanese standards, the longevity of Okinawans is incredible. They have a 40% greater chance of living to 100 than other Japanese people. So why do Okinawans live so long and is there something you can mimic in your everyday life to increase your longevity?
Why Do Okinawans Live so Long?
There are several factors such as genes, geographical location, lifestyle habits, and diet that play a big role in the longevity of Okinawans. However, many experts, including Dan Buettner, who we alluded to earlier, believe diet is the main contributor. This is because Okinawans eat foods and have habits that promote autophagy in the body.
These foods include fruits and vegetables that help increase our spermidine content. Spermidine helps promote autophagy which helps protect the body from various age-related illnesses including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. The key to a longevity diet meal plan is a healthy balance of fruits and vegetables, much like the Okinawa diet.
Is the Okinawa Diet Healthy?
The entire idea behind longevity diets is to help you live a longer, healthier life. Therefore, longevity diets are healthy in nature. However, you can’t just simply eat a few fruits, vegetables, and fish here and there and expect the diet to live to its full potential.
You must also limit the amount of food you eat that is high in sugars as well as high in refined oils and carbohydrates. You should also pair a longevity diet with an active and healthy lifestyle for optimized results. While longevity diets are diets, they are also lifestyle commitments where you commit to taking care of your body for the long haul.
What do Okinawans Eat For Breakfast?
The Okinawa diet is very high in carbohydrates while being very low in fat, especially saturated fat. The diet consists of 85% carbohydrates, 9% protein, and 6% fat including 2% saturated fat. Vegetables take up 58-60% of the diet while fruits, grains, sweet potatoes, seaweed, and kelp take up a large majority of the rest of the diet.
A typical Okinawan breakfast may consist of miso soup with spinach or eggs with rice. These foods are high in fiber but low in fat. A traditional Okinawan lunch may consist of papaya, tofu, and dark green leafy vegetables with sweet green tea.
2. Fasting Mimicking Diet
The fasting-mimicking diet was created by Dr. Valter Longo, who is an Italian biologist and researcher. The goal behind the diet is to replicate the benefits of fasting while still providing the body with the nutrition it needs. This is crucial because many people avoid fasting because they feel it robs the body of needed nutrients.
How Does the Fasting Mimicking Diet Work?
The diet was created based on decades of research, including several clinical studies. Dr. Longo sells a five-day weight loss program called the ProLon Fasting Mimicking Diet. This ProLon longevity diet includes meals and diets for every day of the week, users will only eat what is inside of the prepackaged meal kit.
How to Mimic the Prolon Diet
As mentioned earlier, the ProLon diet comes with five-day, prepackaged meal kits. Every meal and every snack is whole-food derived and plant-based. These meals are low in carbs and protein yet high in healthy fats like olives and flax.
It is possible to do a DIY ProLon diet. Day one of the diet provides approximately 1,090 kcal with 10% protein, 56% fat, 34% carbs. Days two through five provide only 725 kcal with 9% protein, 44% fat, and 47% carbs.
What Can I Eat on The Fasting Mimicking Diet?
When you’re on the fasting-mimicking diet, you are on massive calorie restrictions, greatly reducing what you can eat. This calorie restriction mimics the body’s physiological response to traditional fasting methods. It promotes autophagy, which can helps reduce the effects of aging.
This diet is designed to only provide 34-54% of your normal calorie intake. The foods are low-calorie, high-fat, and low-carb content. It is highly recommended that you consult with your doctor before beginning the fasting-mimicking diet to ensure that the five-day fast is safe for you.
Is Keto a Fasting Mimicking Diet?
Fasting mimicking diet has the same goals as a keto diet while taking a different approach. The idea is to quickly get your body into full ketosis to maximize fat burning.
Many people who choose the keto diet also practice intermediate fasting. Any diet that results in sustained fat metabolism, which results in ketone production, can be considered a keto diet. However, typically keto dieting focuses on reducing your carb intake. It does not impose a massive restriction on your calorie intake as a fast mimicking diet does. Since you are already skipping out on certain nutrients with the keto diet, it is not recommended that you mimic fasting while on the keto diet.
3. The Longevity Diet
It’s no secret, the key to a longer and healthier life is a sustained diet built for longevity. Now, there are many different longevity diets, several of which we have already discussed in detail such as the blue zone diet and the Okinawa diet. But there are other diets, like the Valter Longo diet, that also focus on longevity.
As you will quickly notice when we dive into Valter Longo’s longevity diet, it shares many similarities to the Okinawa and Mediterranean diets. It also differs depending on your age. If you are below the age of 65, Longo recommends keeping your protein intake low. However, if you are over the age of 65 you should slightly increase protein intake while also increasing the consumption of fish, eggs, and white meats.
What Can I Eat On The Longevity Diet?
Your main focus on the longevity diet should be eating mostly vegan, with a little bit of fish mixed into your diet. Fish contain high omega-3, omega-6, and vitamin B12 content, which are vital for your overall well-being. You should also pay close attention to the quality of fish, avoiding any fish who has high levels of mercury.
Longevity diet breakfasts may include lean protein, which keeps you satiated longer, whole grains and fruits and vegetables, which provide healthy fiber, and a bit of healthy fat. Eggs are very common in longevity diets and are a great breakfast food with many benefits and nutritional value. You should also focus on consuming more vitamins and minerals such as spermidine, zinc, curcumin, collagen, and CoQ10.
Is The Longevity Diet Healthy?
Longevity diets are healthy in nature because they provide you with healthy foods to eat every day. By following one of these diets you’re not only increasing your long-term health but your short-term health as well. Longo recommends only 2-3 meals per day on the longevity diet, two meals per day if you gain weight easily and three meals per day if you lose weight easily. He also recommends three meals a day if you are normal weight and over 65.
Valter Longo also recommends fasting in his longevity diet. He believes you should confine all eating within a 12-hour period. This is a form of intermittent fasting which provides numerous health benefits including promoting autophagy in the body. So for example, if you were to eat your first meal at 8 a.m., your last meal should come before 8 p.m. and you shouldn’t eat anymore after that.
4. Ketogenic Diet
The ketogenic diet, aka the keto diet, has boomed in popularity in recent years. Even celebrities, athletes, and health gurus are jumping on the bandwagon. This is because it has the potential to improve your sleep, cell regeneration, and gut health, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola.
Much like the other diets mentioned in this article, the keto diet is much more of a lifestyle than it is a diet. While you may see immediate results by switching to the diet, longterm results come when you pair the diet with a healthy and active lifestyle. Most keto diets also include a form of fasting, more often than not intermittent fasting.
How is Keto Different Than The Okinawa Diet?
The keto diet is another longevity diet but it differs significantly from other types of diets. You may be wondering who the victor is in an Okinawa diet vs. keto diet battle, but the results will differ on a person by person basis. Unlike the Okinawa diet, the keto diet is a very low-carb, high-fat, and high-protein diet.
The main goal of the diet is to enter a state of ketosis through fat metabolism. During this ketosis, the body uses primarily fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. With low levels of carbohydrate, fats can be converted into ketones which are used to fuel the body.
What Can You Eat on The Keto Diet?
You would be surprised at the amount of keto diet foods and keto snacks that you can eat. Some of the foods, like bacon, sound too good to be true with a diet. Here are some of the foods that you can eat while on the keto diet:
- Low-carb vegetables
- Meat and poultry
- Coconut oil
- Plain greek yogurt
While it can be difficult to implement a vegetarian keto diet, it isn’t impossible. Many vegetarians on the keto diet will eat animal products like eggs and dairy but avoid meats and fish. You can also eat low-carb vegetables such as spinach, asparagus, broccoli, and kale.
How do I Start a Keto Diet?
It is always difficult to start a new diet. There are thousands of different resources to sort through, leaving you confused and overwhelmed. Here are some of the key keto diet rules you need to know before starting your diet:
- Limit protein intake
- Use fat as a lever
- Drink lots of water
- Keep up electrolytes
- Eat when you are hungry
- Focus on whole foods
While it would take much longer to fully explain the keto diet, these are just some of the basics you need to know to get your feet wet.
As mentioned earlier, it is very important to consult with your doctor before beginning any new diet. This is especially true with the keto diet. Ask your doctor if it’s safe for you to begin the keto diet.
All Longevity Diets Create Autophagy
As we have mentioned throughout this article, autophagy is a crucial part of the anti-aging process. This is because autophagy is the body’s process of replacing old cells with new cells. Diets can help the body achieve autophagy three different ways:
- Limit the calories
- Limit the nutrients
As you can see, many of the diets we have mentioned in this article feature all three of these characteristics. Diets like the fasting-mimicking diet limit the amount of time you eat and the number of calories you intake. Meanwhile, diets like the Okinawa diet limit the nutrients you intake. If promoting autophagy and anti-aging is your goal, you should focus on a diet that targets all three of these goals.
Supplements to Support Any Longevity Diet
In order to fully feel the full effects of anti-aging, you may want to pair supplements with your longevity diet. These supplements will ensure you’re getting all of the nutrients you need without having to painstakingly measure your food. Here are some of the most effective supplements:
- Nicotinamide Riboside
Supplements like spermidine help promote autophagy throughout the body. Unfortunately, too many people fail to get their recommended daily intake of spermidine. If this applies to you, spermidine supplements can help you reduce the dreaded side effects of aging.
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