Live long and prosper isn’t just a fun greeting from the planet Vulcan. It’s a way of life for illness-free people who have healthy eating habits. Try it out for yourself and see!
It’s easy to deduce that if you successfully avoid illnesses and disease, the greater your chance of living longer. If we take another look at the eating habits of centenarians and cultures with the longest life spans, we find one culinary commonality that helps to boost their immunity: plant-strong, nutrient-dense diets. Dissecting their eating habits, we can glean a solid approach to our own lifestyle.
We can boost our immunity by eating foods with the most vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals (plant compounds such as antioxidants, including beta-carotene, vitamin C, folic acid, and vitamin E), and the least amount of calories. Caloric restriction is a cornerstone of longevity-promoting diets. Phytonutrient-rich foods include colorful fruits and vegetables such as dark, leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers, and berries. Dark, leafy greens contain lymphocytes that aid digestion, and dark berries contain anthocyanins and bioflavonoids that protect your heart and ward off cancer. Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients like vitamins C and E, plus beta-carotene and zinc.
It’s a good idea to go for a wide variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, kiwi, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Other foods particularly good for your immune system include fresh garlic and medicinal mushrooms like shiitake, maitake, reishi, or chaga, all of which can help fight viruses and bacteria. If you happen to come down with a cold or the flu, a big bowl of antioxidant-rich, immune-boosting garlic and mushroom soup may help your immune system even better than Mom’s old-school chicken noodle soup!
Avoid eating nutrient-stripped, fast-absorbing foods such as trans fatty acids, refined sugar, and white flour. These highly processed foods create a massive glucose response in your bloodstream and spike your insulin levels. This spike promotes fat storage, weakens your immune system, and increases your risk of cancer. By eating slow-absorbing foods, your body can properly absorb essential nutrients and use them to fight disease. Slow-absorbing foods include nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans. The sterols and stanols in nuts and seeds help pull bad fats out of the body, allowing good fats to be absorbed to lower your “bad” LDL cholesterol and increase your brain function.
It’s also important to vigorously masticate on a daily basis. Chewing your food properly facilitates the release of important nutrients and your own powerful enzymes that protect your cells. The average person chews each bite of food as few as fifteen times. Try adding ten more chews to every bite. Studies show that people who chew more often also consume ten percent less food. It requires more presence and focus when you eat, which can also result in a higher level of gratification and appreciation for your food!