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Eat towards Longevity - Practical Tips

5 min read

Before presenting suggestions on what you should and shouldn't do with your diet, it is essential to address a few obvious limitations: 


We don't know you



We don't know your age



We don't know how you spend your days



We don't know if you suffer from allergies or if there are foods you simply cannot stand



We do, however, know the following:


You are a human being



Your physiology is almost identical to other people



Your body has an evolutionary, built-in need to eat in order to function



Your body gets damaged by eating in a harmful manner

With the understanding that you are a human being, we also recognize that there are fundamental but simple ways to improve your diet.


This article aims to guide you through these basic principles. If you feel that you have already implemented them to the best of your ability but still struggle with issues that you believe are related to your diet, we recommend consulting a healthcare provider to explore other potential solutions.



Eating with a Purpose


When we talk about eating towards longevity, we have - by default - set a goal with the diet. Food without purpose or direction keeps you alive for the moment but hardly helps you beyond that. Whether you are someone who "eats to exercise," meaning you eat solely to survive, viewing food as a necessary evil that you would prefer to replace with a pill, or if you are someone who "exercise to eat," shaping your life and lifestyle around food, food should have one or more purposes. Only when you have defined your goals will you be able to determine which practical changes you should apply to your own diet.


However, there are some general guidelines that one cannot escape, regardless of who you are and how you view food:

If you consume more calories than you burn, it will be stored as fat in your body


The more excess fat you carry on your body, the higher the risk for developing diseases and premature death


Lack of nutrients such as vitamins increase the risk for deficiency diseases, lifestyle-related health conditions and premature death




The 6 foods for thought



Our practical tips that align with the goal of eating towards longevity, are aimed at advice related to the body's basic functions around food, the onset of diseases, and how these two relate to each other. The objective is to reduce the risk of disease development and premature death.



1. Don't Eat


Counterintuitively, our first tip is to not eat. At least not all the time. Fasting and calorie restriction have been shown to be compatible with living longer, reducing the occurrence and severity of several significant health conditions, and are also easier on your wallet.


So, how should one go about trying fasting? Well, you can try one of the following:

Introducing an eating window:


Eating only during certain hours of the day results in a lower total calorie intake, while providing the body with more hours to activate healthy and protective processes associated with fasting.


The length of this window varies widely, but typically it's suggested to be between 6-12 hours. Make sure to determine the hours you want to adhere to and try to stick to them. The fewer hours you allow yourself to eat, the greater the impact tends to be over time


Introducing Fasting Days:


Incorporating days when you either don't eat at all or consume significantly fewer calories than on other days is another form of what's known as "intermittent fasting". A very common method that many find effective is the so-called 5:2 method. It involves eating whatever you want for 5 days a week as usual. On 2 days, however, you significantly reduce your calorie intake, consuming only about 25% of what you typically would. This method has proven effective for many as a way to efficiently lose excess weight, promoting overall health.


Introducing Fasting Periods:


A slightly more extreme form of fasting is known as periodic fasting. Many people often confuse the terms periodic and intermittent fasting, but periodic fasting is defined as a continuous period of at least 48 hours where you either do not eat anything (only drink water) or significantly reduce calorie intake. Sometimes, periodic fasting can last as long as 7 consecutive days. There is no requirement to resume fasting within a specific time window after the end of periodic fasting. However, this is usually repeated a few times a year. 





If you are not used to fasting, we recommend starting by introducing yourself to fasting by skipping one meal a day for a few days—either breakfast or dinner. Choose whichever you feel suits you best.



2. Don't Overeat


All the measures above involve completely or almost completely excluding calorie intake. These are targeted interventions that can yield positive effects on the body. However, something that may be even more effective in the long run, though much more challenging for many, is to eat moderately, on the verge of what feels like too little, on a daily basis.


In fact, studies examining regular calorie restriction in normal-weight adults have shown strong correlations with slowing down biological aging. The level of calorie restriction investigated more closely is 20%, meaning that to maximize benefits, one should aim to consume about 80% of each meal instead of 100%—even when cravings arise.



3. Don't Eat Late


There is a simple recommendation, via the evidence of research that shows increasingly significant impact on extending life and reducing the risk of early onset lifestyle diseases—don't eat late at night!


Eating late at night has several fundamental negative effects on our bodies from a health perspective, with the most important ones being:

Sleep quality declines


When the body expends energy on breaking down food instead of fully focusing on repairing itself and preparing for the next day, the overall sleep quality will deteriorate. You may not always notice it, but on a cellular level, this negatively affects your long-term health.


Reduced calorie burn and Increased fat storage


A significant difference observed between those who eat late at night and those who do not is that calorie burn decreases, and the gene expression for storing fat in the body increases.


Increased hunger


Eating later at night has far-reaching effects on hunger and the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin. Studies on the body's response to eating late have shown a significant decrease in leptin, which signals satisfaction and directly counters feelings of hunger, throughout the entire day compared to eating earlier.


Overall, late meals compared to early meals increase the risk of overweight and obesity, something we know is directly linked to an increased risk of various diseases and a less healthy body.





Make it a habit to eat no later than 3-4 hours before going to bed.



4. Snack with Quality


Snacking between meals, in the evenings, or instead of a substantial meal when necessary is a natural part of life. Saying that snacking should be completely avoided is not only claiming that snacking is inherently bad (which it doesn't have to be) but also placing blame on those who snack, which doesn't feel fair or scientifically supported.


So, what's the deal with snacks and snacking?


The fact is, snacking has both its benefits and risks for your health, depending on what you eat, why you eat, how often you eat, and how snacking fits into your overall diet.




Can provide an energy boost


Especially beneficial if there are many hours between meals and you feel low on energy, or if you know that you need to replenish your stores before a workout to have the stamina.


Can keep hunger under control


Reduces the risk of overeating at the next meal.


Can help you meet your daily nutritional needs


By snacking on foods like nuts or fresh fruit, you can meet your daily vitamin requirements that might be challenging to get enough of otherwise.






Unwanted Weight Gain


Risk of excessive calorie intake if the size of your snacks is too large or if you snack too often.


Decreased Interest in Food


If one snacks too much, hunger sensations can decrease to the extent that one starts skipping certain meals. This, in turn, risks leading to even fewer essential nutrients being consumed, negatively impacting health.


Deterioration of Your Eating Habits


It has been found that regularly consuming "hyperpalatable" snacks containing added sugar, salt and fats, while often lacking other essential nutrients, can increase an individual's preference for this type of food. This can ultimately lead to changed eating habits and a diminished quality of the food one consumes.





Plan your snacks. By planning your intake, you can use snacks to your advantage:


1. When - When do you usually get hungry between meals and need something extra?


2. Why - If you snack often, is it because you are genuinely hungry or because you feel bored/stressed/tired/angry/sad? If it's due to hunger, proceed to point 3. If you realize that you snack due to a feeling other than hunger, consider other strategies such as mindfulness before snacking.


3. What - Decide on which snacks will satisfy you. A satisfying snack will alleviate hunger, be enjoyable, and help you forget about food until the next meal. Think about the last time you snacked on something. Were you still hungry afterward? Did you get hungry shortly afterward? Studies show that snacks based on whole grains, fiber, and protein increase satisfaction. But first, you need to figure out what will truly satisfy you. An apple won't help if you were actually craving popcorn.


Some suggestions depending on your craving:


Crunch - Raw vegetable sticks, nuts, seeds, whole-grain crackers, apple

Creamy - Cottage cheese, yogurt, avocado, hummus

Sweet - Fresh fruit, dark chocolate

Salty - Cheese, roasted chickpeas, nuts


If you don't have a specific preference, we recommend choosing something high in fiber and water, as it quickly dampens the feeling of hunger.


4. How much - A serving of snacks should be large enough to satisfy the immediate need to eat but small enough not to affect your appetite for the upcoming meal. At the same time, it should not contain too many calories. A rule of thumb is that snacks should contain about 150-250 calories. This is roughly equivalent to an apple with a tablespoon of peanut butter.



5. Eat and drink less of the bad stuff


There are things that our taste buds and brains enjoy eating, but our bodies don't benefit from consuming them in excess.


In addition to the obvious limitation of calorie intake, the source of our food also has a significant impact on our health.


You should avoid these components in your diet as much as possible if you want to increase your chances of a long and healthy life:



Beverages Sweetened with Sugar


This type of soda contains what is often referred to as empty calories. Although it may be tasty, this is a very simple and easily identified product that you should completely avoid for the sake of your health.


Processed Meat


Processed meat is meat that has been treated through processes such as smoking, salting, fermenting, or chemical preservatives. These processes are often aimed at enhancing flavor and increasing shelf life. Examples of processed meats include:


- Sausages

- Bacon

- Ham

- Liver pâté


Regular intake of processed meat has clearly been shown to be carcinogenic. The same applies to regular consumption of red meat. This is primarily associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and pancreatic cancer. It has also been observed that it increases the risk of cardiovascular disease since these foods are often rich in saturated fats, and also contain large amounts of salt.





Completely exclude processed meat from your diet and significantly reduce red meat intake. If you find it challenging, try setting goals for yourself on how to initially reduce your intake, as every small change can greatly reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease in the long run.





It's perhaps unfortunate but true. Alcohol is cytotoxic, harmful to our cells, and it's hardly beneficial if our goal is to keep our cells as healthy as possible for as long as possible.


There are certainly those who claim that antioxidants in, for example, red wine can have a positive effect on certain individuals. Even if it might not be entirely wrong, the entire scientific community still argues that the effects of alcohol on the body are significantly more harmful than beneficial. Alcohol increases the risk of chronic liver damage and cancer, even in lower amounts. Additionally, it negatively affects your sleep and your body's ability to recover as long as it's in circulation.





Keep your alcohol intake to an absolute minimum for the sake of your health. If you know you would like to drink less but find it challenging to achieve, we recommend seeking help from your healthcare provider or specialized clinics such as the "Riddargatan 1" clinic in Stockholm.



Fried and Charred Food


By now, we know that processed meat can pose health problems. However, this also applies to fresh protein with certain cooking methods. Among the worst, we attribute this to the deep fryer and the grill.


Both of these methods produce harmful substances called heterocyclic amines (HAs), also known as mutagens, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Both of these are carcinogenic.



- Formed at high temperatures

- Animal studies have shown that those who have ingested a lot of HAs develop many different types of cancer.



- Formed during incomplete combustion

- The largest group of carcinogenic substances we know of today

- Can be present in high concentrations in the black on the surface of the steak


The body breaks down PAHs in several steps. However, the first step makes PAHs very reactive to the genetic material (DNA) and can therefore both damage and give rise to mutations in cells, which in turn can lead to cancer.



6. Eat and Drink More of the Good Stuff


You've heard it before, and you'll hear it again. Eat more fruits and vegetables. However, it's quite general and sometimes challenging to incorporate practically. We conclude on a high note by going through what we believe everyone would benefit from consuming a lot of.



Cruciferous Vegetables


Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and kale are some of nature's real powerhouses with a unique ability to modify human hormones, activate the body's natural "detox system", and prevent the growth of cancerous cells. These vegetables should be chewed thoroughly or consumed chopped or juiced to assimilate as much as possible of their potent anti-cancer properties.


A substance found in these vegetables called "Sulforaphane" acts as an epigenetic modulator in many types of cancer. It has clearly been shown to reduce the risk of cancer through various effects on the body. It also protects the arterial walls from inflammation, which is one of the key factors behind the development of cardiovascular disease.


If this isn't convincing enough to emphasize why you should make sure to eat plenty of these super vegetables, we can add that cruciferous vegetables are among the most nutrient-dense foods that exist!





Ensure you incorporate any or several of the cruciferous vegetables into your daily diet.



Leafy Greens


Leafy greens contain fewer than 20 kilocalories per 100 grams, making them perfect components in meals for achieving weight loss and weight control. In studies, it has been observed that those who started their meals by eating a large salad reduced their overall calorie intake. The larger the salad, the more the total calorie intake decreased. Besides weight control, which is reason enough to involve leafy greens more extensively, it is known that a higher intake is associated with a lower risk of various cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancer.


These vegetables are rich in folic acid (vitamin B9) and carotenoids, both of which are associated with a longer life and a lower risk of cognitive diseases, among other benefits. To maximize the absorption of these vegetables, it's essential to simultaneously consume fat, as carotenoids are fat-soluble.





Always eat leafy greens together with a dressing, nuts, or seeds. (Preferably in combination.)





Nuts are one of the most nutritious sources of unsaturated "healthy" fats and plant-based protein (about 20g/100 grams!), and they also contain plenty of fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. They also have a low glycemic index (GI), which means they do not cause a significant spike in blood sugar levels and are therefore attractive to include in the diet for diabetics or those aiming for more stable blood sugar levels.


It's undeniable that nuts contain many calories, but the truth is that a higher proportion of nuts in the diet is associated with lower body weight. This is believed to be partly explained by nuts' effect on appetite regulation. Eating nuts regularly also lowers cholesterol levels and is associated with a approximately 35% lower risk of cardiovascular disease.





Top your salad with chopped almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pistachios, or cashews.





Berries are packed with antioxidants, which are fantastic in moderate amounts for cardiovascular health. Studies where individuals were asked to eat blueberries and strawberries daily for weeks have shown positive effects on blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and signs of oxidative stress. Berries also exhibit cancer-preventive properties as well as inherent protection against cognitive decline with increasing age.





Try to incorporate berries a couple of times a week, whether it's with porridge, a bowl of milk, or just as they are.





Beans are not only a food that helps stabilize blood sugar but also a food that protects against colorectal cancer. They break down slowly, preventing spikes in blood sugar, keeping us satisfied with the meal longer, and therefore contributing to increased weight control. They are also rich in fiber, which helps keep cholesterol levels down.


Beans, peas, and lentils have been shown to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by up to 50% if consumed twice a week! Eating them four times a week has been shown in studies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 22%. In a 2004 study that looked at a broad population, it was found that, on average, for every 20 grams of beans consumed per day, individuals lived 8 years longer! Therefore, our recommendation here is to eat beans, preferably every day, but at least 2-4 times a week, as colorectal cancer is also the third most common form of cancer in Sweden!




Experiment with different beans and find two or three favorite bean dishes that you can alternate between.





Diet is an inevitable part of our lives, and how we benefit from it ultimately depends on ourselves. As with all changes, we encourage those that persist.


Starting too hard is very difficult to maintain in the long run. Therefore, begin with one or two things that you find easy to change. When you hardly think about them as changes but rather as established routines that feel natural, then it might be time to implement the next change that feels easiest at that moment.



For more practical tips on ways to change your lifestyle and biological age, click here