After studying 6,381 adults, for over 18 years, researchers observed that people whose diet included large amounts of protein (more than 20% of the daily intake of calories came from protein), during middle age, they had increased by 74% the risk of premature mortality and had four times more chances of dying of cancer than those who ate less protein (10% of the daily intake of calories came from Protein). They were also more susceptible to death by diabetes.
The results showed that proteins from animal sources (meat, dairy and eggs) accounted for a large proportion of the relationship between protein and premature deaths. On the other hand, vegetable proteins (beans, lentils, nuts and soybeans) seemed to have a protective role for the body.
Researchers consider that taking a large amount of animal protein increases the levels of insulin and IGF-1, a factor that has been linked to the development of cancer.
This is not the first time that we see that nutrition is directly related to longevity. Studies have documented that people who follow a Mediterranean and vegetarian diet can expect a longer life. Diet can slow down aging in many ways.
Antioxidants, such as vitamin C and E, lutein and beta-carotene, neutralize harmful free radicals, which are unstable oxygen molecules that infect cells and contribute to aging. Omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fats and flavonoids, help reduce inflammation and this is a factor that contributes positively to many chronic diseases.
A diet based on low glycaemic index carbohydrates, including oats, quinoa and legumes, helps maintain good glucose and insulin levels in the blood. Monounsaturated fats can be a benefit to insulin levels and to control blood sugar.
Some nutrients also help to maintain the length of telomere, i.e. DNA sequences, that protect the limbs of chromosomes from damage. The shortening of telomere – which occurs every time a cell is divided – has been linked to aging, cancer and premature death.
The list below shows 10 foods that have the potential to slow down cell ageing and help with longevity since they are part of a more balanced diet.
It contains anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats, just like olive oil, along with abundant folic acid, which is a vitamin that repairs DNA and reduces homocysteine.
Add avocado to salads, soups and even sandwiches. Spread mashed avocado on whole wheat bread, instead of butter or mayonnaise.
This vegetable is filled with anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants and is a good source of folic acid. It also contains Vetaine, a vitamin B, which, as its composition shows, reduces inflammation and homocysteine.
Add grated beetroot to salads and sandwiches. You can make grilled beets along with other vegetables or beetroot sautéed with orange zest and orange juice.
A diet high in fibre – mainly from untreated cereals – is associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular death. Cereals that are rich in fibre such as oats, help regulate cholesterol in the bloodstream and blood pressure, as well as improve the action of insulin.
You can also add them to a smoothie or accompany them with your fruit salad and yogurt.
Blueberries are high in fibre and vitamin C and are full of anthocyanins.
Put the blueberries and yogurt in the blender and make a smoothie or add a handful to your cereal. Add them to spinach salads or put them in your cakes.
Cabbage contains phytochemicals that neutralize free radicals and help detoxify the liver from potentially toxic substances. The anticancer benefits will be more if you eat it raw or slightly cooked.
Add finely chopped cabbage to salads and soups or make homemade coleslaw with grated carrot and fresh dill.
Lentil is a food high in vegetable proteins and fibre, as well as an excellent source of folic acid. Add the lentils as a pasta sauce instead of minced meat. Put cooked lentils on a green salad or stir them in soups and stews.
The juicy seeds of this fruit are an excellent source of potent antioxidants called polyphenols. It is also a source of fibre, folic acid and vitamin C.
Put the seeds of pomegranate in fruit salads and green salads, sprinkle with seeds the bulgur, add it to fruit juices, stir it with yogurt or put it on your cakes. Finally you can make grilled vegetables and pomegranate.
It is an excellent source of Α-carotene, a phytochemical that under conditions prevents the growth of cancer cells. Make pumpkin puree; put it on the cake or on the bread. Make homemade velvet pumpkin soup with orange juice and curry.
One of the best sources of omega-3 fats, salmon can protect against heart disease, Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration. Higher levels of Omega-3 in the blood are also associated with a slower rate of telomere reduction.Add salmon to the omelette from egg white or a spinach salad.
This green leafy vegetable offers lutein (for eye health) and vitamin K (for strong bones and not only). Like lentils, spinach is also an excellent source of folic acid.
Put Spinach in pasta sauce, soups and omelettes. Use it on sandwiches instead of lettuce. Serve it steamed and roasted with vinegar.