weekly blog--one for the ages
This week I had a number of conversations focused on diets that promote successful aging. Eating sensibly, reducing the consumption of red meat and dairy, cutting down on sugar and salt, and getting lots of exercise seem to be at the core of giving yourself a chance to live longer, and fend off the ills that accompany aging.
Below are three of the more unusual diets I came across:
New Nordic Diet
This diet was developed in 2004 by food professionals and chefs from five Nordic countries. Rich in plant foods (often foraged), the diet includes lots of root vegetables, cabbage, dark greens, apples and pears, berries (such as ligonberries and bilberries) and whole grains (such as rye and oats). Fish (such as salmon and herring) is also prominent, along with some wild game (such as elk, inherently low in fat) and small amounts of dairy. Other wild foods include moss, mushrooms, nettles, garlic and even ants. In many ways, the New Nordic Diet is very similar to a Mediterranean diet but relies on canola oil instead of olive oil and is a reflection of what the region’s climate, soil and water naturally—and best—produce.
French Paradox Diet
A diet rich in cheese that might actually give you a metabolic boost, according to new research. The researchers believe their pro-cheese finding may help solve the so-called French paradox, a perplexing phenomenon in which French people, who tend to have diets rich in cholesterol and saturated fat somehow have low rates of heart disease and a relatively high average life expectancy of 82 years. However, the new discovery must be taken with a grain of salt as there were very few participants in the study. It should also be noted that the researchers received some funding from Arla Foods, a food company that produces dairy products.
A typical Okinawan may live on average for 100 years. Many theories postulate that the secret of centenarian lies in their genetic constitutional makeup. However, recent studies suggest that the most important factor influencing their longevity is the simple food they consume. The diet of the Okinawan people is 20% less in calories than what the average Japanese consumes. Their diet features green/orange/yellow (GOY) vegetables, fruits, roots, and tubers. These foods are rich sources of antioxidant vitamins like vitamin-C, vitamin-A, and flavonoid polyphenolic compounds like ß-carotenes, lutein, xanthins, and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc.
The Okinawa diet is also low in fat, has only 25% of the sugar and 75% of the cereals of the average dietary intake of the Japanese. Limiting fat and sugar in the diet can help prevent coronary heart diseases and stroke risk. Further, the islander's traditional diet includes a relatively small amount of fish and somewhat more in the form of soy, low-calorie vegetables like bitter melon and other legumes. Almost no meat, eggs, or dairy products are consumed.