Diet and Longevity – how we eat may be just as important as what we eat...

June 5, 2018

 

 

Over the last 5-years there has been an explosion of research into the health and longevity promoting benefits of diet. Research has conclusively and unequivocally shown that adhering to a diet that is high in fruit and vegetables, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, fish, and red wine (which everyone is always pleased to see!) extends life expectancy, health and wellbeing in humans. Indeed, anyone familiar with the research from the Blue Zones (areas of the world with exceptional longevity) would probably argue that adopting a Mediterranean diet is one of the most powerful ways of boosting health and longevity.

But is it? If one probes into the diet and longevity research a bit deeper, a second and perhaps more fascinating issue arises; what we eat is undoubtedly important but it may not be as important as how we eat it. More specifically, in all of the longevity hotspots around the world, meals times follow an incredibly similar pattern, whether one looks in Greece, Japan or Costa Rica:

 

  • Meals are always eaten as part of group

  • Meals are longer and slower

  • They are free from any form of digital stimulation (TVs, smart phones, internet)

  • The evening meal is a “sacred” time for family/friends to talk, reflect and support each other and nothing takes precedent over this, not work, telephone calls or TV shows

 

This is in stark contrast to the latest research assessing how meals are consumed in the West.

 

  • 20% of meals are eaten in the car

  • Only 37% of families eat round a table 5+ times/week

  • 12% don’t eat with their family most of the time

  • 69% of meals are eaten in front of the TV or digital device

  • 64% eat their evening meal straight from packaging

Thus what the research is increasingly showing is that eating a good diet is crucial but optimising the context in which it is eaten is also vital; social eating has been shown to increase immunity, reduce the prevalence of colds and infections, lower the rate of depression and anxiety and even reduce the incidence of cancer and heart disease.

 

At the start of this New Year, a great health and longevity boosting resolution would be twofold: firstly to improve what you eat on a daily basis and secondly to commit to ensuring that at least 4+meals a week are eaten together, slowly, socially and enjoyably – it might just save your life!

 

Mind-Body-Medical will be running our first “Longevity Supper Club” this March 11 at Hamblin Hall in Bosham which will provide a great evening of informal education, socialisation and fun, with a three course meal. Find out more here.

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