Do you want to live a long, happy life? Some things that play a role in longevity are out of your control such as genetics and the environment you live in. Other things however, you have control over including your lifestyle and nutrition. Research has shown that a diet such as the Mediterranean Diet (lots of fruits, vegetables, fish, and healthy fats) is the best diet for staying healthy and longevity (see the link below for more information). Research has also shown us what foods are the worse for aging. Even the healthiest eater can fall prey to indulgences occasionally. Let’s take a look at the five worst foods for longevity so the next time you need a break from fruits and vegetables you’ll have a better understanding of what not to reach for.
Despite the suggested benefits of alcohol, it is a toxin and far from healthy. Alcohol increases the chances of cancer including colorectal and breast cancers. Alcohol is also an immune suppressant, which is a particularly concerning problem with older people. As we age, our immune system becomes less effective and does not protect us as well against illness and diseases. Alcohol supresses this even further resulting in a poor functioning immune system. Stick with a maximum of two drinks daily for men and one for women.
Processed meats like bacon, sausages, hot dogs and corned beef are a carcinogen. This means that there is enough evidence that these foods, if eaten often, will increase the risk of colorectal cancer. Eating just 1 hotdog or 50g of processed meat has a 16% increased risk of colon cancer. Limit your consumption of processed and red meat and focus on fresh, lean proteins such as fish, eggs, poultry, beans, and tofu.
Sugar-sweetened drinks is the leading contributor to added sugar in the American diet. They are one of the key causes of chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes as well as kidney, heart, and liver disease. There is also evidence that excess sugar has a negative impact on our cognitive abilities. Excess sugar can cause a decline in memory and brain function. You should not be avoiding carbs, but you should not be drinking them. Get your carbs from whole grains and fibre rich fruits and vegetables.
The average person consumes too much sodium. One key reason for this is the consumption of sodium rich ultra-processed foods including packaged snacks, chips, cereals, etc. Eating too much of ultra-processed foods (UPF) will speed up aging. Replace these UPF snacks and foods with fruit, natural peanut butter, nuts, plain Greek yogurt, etc.
Fried and Charred Meats:
As processed meats are unhealthy so too is fresh animal proteins that are prepared in certain ways. Frying and high-heat grilling can produce harmful compounds that can enhance the risk of cancer. Limit the time you cook over direct heat and trim off any charred bits before serving.
Bottom line, to age well it is best to avoid processed foods and foods high in sugar and sodium. Focus on whole foods including fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and healthy lean protein. This will not only enable you to age healthier but also give you more energy.