One of the things that many people hope for is to live a long and happy life. Although many things factor into how long you live, certain aspects of our lifestyle can be the most important. Longevity is one of the hallmarks of good health, and although nobody can live forever there are things that you can do to increase our time here on Earth. Understanding how our lifestyle choices impact our health and longevity can give you insight into changes that you can start making today to accomplish this.
Over time, we as a species have been able to improve our health and live longer. Innovations in medicine, food supply, and even transportation have all contributed to an increased lifespan for people worldwide. In fact, for most of human existence, the average person did not make it past the age of 50 (1). Since the year 1900, the average global lifespan was continuously rising along with the quality of life. More recently, however, we see it going back down. Between 1990 and 2008, a white woman’s average lifespan without a high-school diploma in the US dropped by five years (2). With these dramatic changes in lifespan happening even recently, it begs the question, what is impacting our longevity in this way.
One way to understand how we live longer is to know why we die young. While we face a global pandemic, it may be easy to assume that most people die from sickness or infection. However, with modern medicine, these kinds of complications are less of an issue than ever before. The real culprit almost always circles back to diet. Today, the average US citizen dies from cancer or heart disease (3). Both of these are heavily associated with a poor diet, and a more recent study found that about half of premature deaths in the US are associated with malnutrition (4).
Various commonalities in our food choices today lead to disease and early death. Excessive amounts of preservatives found in the highly processed American Diet lead to complications such as chronic inflammation, which is tied to mortality (5). This is because inflammation and stress in the body can damage cells over time, causing mutations that might lead to cancer or disease that may lead to death. Another problem that we are finding is in the high consumption of animal protein. One study found that men who ate a diet higher in meat protein than plant protein had a 23% higher chance of early death (6). Another one of the greatest sources of disease in the modern diet is sugar. Sugar is one of the most significant causes of inflammation in the body. Sugar is also addictive – meaning people can suffer from withdrawals when they go long periods of time without it. Removing these things from your diet can help prevent disease and early death.
Although removing unhealthy foods from your diet is crucial for your health, that alone is not enough. Nourishing your body with healing foods is one of the best ways to ensure you live longer. Dan Buettner, the author of the Blue Zones, has done extensive research on how a diet rich in plant-based foods has been the key to longevity in some of the longest-living communities in the world. The reasons for this are clear - fruits and vegetables are among the healthiest things we can consume as human beings. There are many essential vitamins and minerals that we need to survive - many of which only exist in plants. They also offer high amounts of dietary fiber, which keeps blood sugar levels steady and reduces inflammation. Only 3% of Americans on average are getting the minimum fiber recommendation - so we could all benefit from a fiber boost (7).
If you are looking to increase your lifespan, then we believe that adjusting your diet is one of the most impactful things you can do to achieve this. Removing highly processed foods that increase inflammation will reduce your risk of disease and discomfort. Finding ways to increase your intake of fruits and vegetables is equally important. Our healthy candy FAVES is made from whole fruits and vegetables. Finding healthy swaps like this that increase the amount of produce on your plate will leave you feeling better and living much longer!