Exercising, not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption are a few well-known ways to prolong life, but certain dietary habits are equally essential if your goal is to blow out 100 candles on your birthday cake. What you eat, as well as what you don't eat, plays a crucial role in the health of your entire body and can increase the odds that you'll live to be a centenarian.
Fill Up on Fiber
People who eat more whole grains tend to live longer. John Robbins, author of "Healthy at 100," notes that people in Okinawa, Japan, have the longest life spans and they also eat about seven servings of whole grains each day. Whole grains are higher in fiber than refined grains, such as white bread and white pasta, and this fiber content might play a role in life longevity. Whole grains also contain more key nutrients necessary for good health, and consuming plenty of these might also prolong life. Fruits, vegetables and beans are also good sources of fiber.
Pile On the Produce
People who live to be 100 usually eat more fruits and vegetables than people who don't reach the century mark. A 2013 article published in the "American Journal of Epidemiology" reports that people who eat fruits and vegetables on a regular basis have a lower risk of premature death. The study was conducted over a period of 18 years with 451,151 participants from Europe.
Antioxidants are compounds that protect your cells from free radicals, which can damage your cells, increasing the risk of health problems. Fruits and vegetables are among the top sources of antioxidants and can protect against heart disease, stroke and cancer. Soy, another food eaten regularly by the long-living Okinawan people, contains flavonoids, which are antioxidants that can lower the risk of cancer. The fact that people eating antioxidant-poor processed foods tend to be unhealthy is another piece of evidence that eating these beneficial compounds can help you reach your 100th birthday.
Eat Only What You Need
Restricting caloric intake can prolong life, perhaps because maintaining a healthy weight is associated with a lower risk of certain health problems such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Reducing calorie intake of protein foods, for example, can reduce the risk of age-related chronic diseases, a conclusion drawn by comparing the health of vegetarians to meat eaters, according to a 2010 article published in "Journals of Gerontology: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences." Reducing intake of calories from processed foods, fast foods and junk foods with added sugars and fats is also associated with better health, which can contribute to the prolonging of life.