By Larisa Goldin, MBA, LMP
I am reading a wonderful book by John Robbins, who has authored a number of popular health books, with the provocative title “Healthy at 100.” In the book, Robbins describes the diets of the four populations with the longest recorded average life spans on Earth.
One tidbit I found fascinating was the discussion about caloric intake. In the US, with our epidemic of obesity, it is well known that long-term excessive caloric intake leads to being overweight or, worse, obese. But there is another benefit to lower caloric intake, apparently, that has not only been observed in these long-life societies – The Okinawans, the Abkhazians, the Vilcabambans, and the Hunzans – but has been confirmed through scientific studies. A calorie-restricted but nutrient-rich diet of between 1500 to 1900 calories per day leads to a longer lifespan and significantly lower rate of disease in old age.
Robbins’ recommendation is that when you are eating a meal, do not keep eating until you are full but until you are about 80% full. Apparently it takes about 20 minutes for our stomach to expand fully and register satiation. Stopping earlier allows your body to catch up and helps you avoid overeating. Another suggestion is to eat at a leisurely pace in a relaxed setting. Not only are you less likely to overeat but also are aiding your digestion by avoiding the negative effects of stress that are typical for so many of us with a hectic schedule and chronically rushed meals. And one more thing – avoid processed foods and sugar as much possible.
So this idea of eating less seems like one ridiculously simple tip and yet those who follow a high-nutrient, moderate calorie diet have been found to have hearts in the same or better condition as individuals who are 15 years younger and also have 50% to 70% lower incidence of heart attacks, stroke or diabetes. And I am barely doing justice to the wonderful and highly pursuasive information Robbins provides in his book. If you are intrigued, buy a copy and go to the source.
Now… if we could just transform the American food industry to stop peddling so much nutrient-empty edible garbage!