Keys to Longevity

Part 3 of 3

Part 1 covered some of the downsides and potential risks of consuming meat and other animal foods. In Part 2 we detailed why nutrition-minded physicians and cardiologists are giving up meat and becoming vegans. In this final article in the series I will lay out EXACTLY what adult bodies most benefit from consuming on a daily basis and why.

Studies, as well as anecdotal evidence, now point to the optimal diet for human health. Recent research into diet and its effect on disease is verifying some important, significant and consistent facts. People can survive when eating animal foods every day but the inflammation, acidity and vascular problems triggered by regular consumption eventually catches up to us. It also isn’t environmentally sustainable.

Avoiding Inflammation is Essential

Inflammation starts a chain reaction that leads to leaky gut syndrome/leaky brain; systemic acidity requiring constant “borrowing” of minerals from the bones; cartilage loss leading to joint damage and pain; and symptoms spiral downward from there.

Because of the various opinions and theories regarding what we should eat and drink most of the people I speak with are at least mildly confused. Who to believe? I am a fan of science, of high quality studies conducted by scientists with no conflicts of interest, using placebo controls whenever possible. The data being revealed in the past few years is consistent and encouraging to those who want to feel healthy and mentally sharp until the day our number is called.

Blue Zones

The “Blue Zones” are those cultures around the world where the populations have the highest rates of longevity and happiness and lowest rates of chronic disease and dementia. The term “blue zones” first appeared in 2005 in a cover story for National Geographic. The five geographic areas where both men and women live the longest are:

What do the people in these locations share in common?

  • A plant-based diet
    • Moderate calorie intake
    • Beans and legumes commonly consumed
    • Animal foods occasionally or not at all
    • Stop eating when stomach is 80% full
    • Eat the smallest meal of the day in late afternoon or evening
    • Eat meat rarely, in 3-4 ounce portion sizes, 0- 5 times per month
  • Regular moderate physical activity as part of life
  • Strong family and social engagement
  • Engagement in spirituality or religion
  • Low stress and “time urgency”
  • Life purpose
  • Moderate consumption of alcohol, mostly wine, or not at all
  • Lower rates of smoking

What to Eat

Contrary to popular belief eating a low carb, high protein and high fat diet is not optimal for long-term human health for most people. All whole plant foods contain a wide range of macro and micro nutrients, and most importantly are loaded with antioxidants and fiber. Every meal should include foods high in antioxidant nutrients from plants. Humans don’t require high amounts of protein.


The amino acid methionine is essential and we must obtain it from our diet. However, in excess methionine is a pro-oxidant and cancer-feeding amino acid. There are studies that show that diets lower in methionine are healthier, including significant evidence from the “blue zones” around the world where people live longer and healthier lives. Beans and other plant foods are much lower in methionine than eggs, fish, beef, pork, game and dairy.

According to Dr. Michael Gregor, MD from his best-selling and highly recommended book “How Not to Die” the answer is simple. In order to consume adequate macronutrients like protein, carbs, fiber and fat, and micronutrients like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants choose among these food sources daily:

Berries 1 serving

High in antioxidants, fiber, vitamin C, potassium, carbs, vitamins

Fruits (other than berries) 3 servings

High in vitamin C, fiber, potassium, antioxidants, carbs, vitamins

Vegetables (other than greens and cruciferous) 2 servings

Antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, carbs

Greens 2 servings

Antioxidants, protein, chlorophyll, minerals (incl. calcium), vitamins

Cruciferous veggies (raw if possible) 1 serving

Antioxidants, minerals, sulforaphane, protein, fiber, vitamins

Whole grains 3 servings

Vitamins, fiber, carbs, protein, minerals

Beans and legumes 3 servings

Protein, fiber, minerals (potassium & magnesium), B-vitamins

Nuts and seeds (ideally raw) 1 serving

Beneficial fats, minerals, vitamins, protein

Ground flaxseeds 1 Tbsp.

Omega 3 fatty acids, fiber

Herbs and spices 1/4 tsp

Water: Drink adequate water daily based on your body weight. Divide your weight in half and consume that many ounces of pure water, spread out evenly throughout your waking hours. The water in fresh fruit and soup counts toward your daily total.

Avoid: added oil, salt, alcohol, sugar, artificial sweeteners and processed foods. These are not only non-nutritious but are addictive, leading to cravings. Avoid foods that don’t contain fiber. Plentiful dietary fiber is more essential than protein.

Choose organic:  The following fruits and veggies are called the “Dirty Dozen” They contain the most pesticide residue. Always purchase the organically grown option of these 12 foods:












Sweet bell peppers

Supplement: If you choose to join the doctors and become vegetarian or vegan it’s advised to supplement with vitamin B-12 (methylcobalamin). Interesting fact: many older meat eaters have such low stomach acid that they are unable to assimilate and utilize the vitamin B-12 from meat. Take your B-12 at the beginning of a meal or choose a sublingual option instead. You may continue to take vitamin D3 and your favorite anti-aging supplements.

Exercise: This is something the Blue Zone people have in common. They walk, garden, play with their grandkids, dance and otherwise move their bodies for hours each day. Some participate in Tai Chi, yoga, swimming and/or other gentle and muscle-strengthening movement on a regular basis. Strong muscles help prevent falls and reduce injury in case you do. Regular exercise is fun, interactive and improves quality of life immeasurably. Regular exercise can minimize some of the negative effects of consuming excessive animal foods.

Free and Easy App

Download Dr. Greger’s free app onto your smartphone: The Daily Dozen. It is a simple way to track portion sizes, see which foods are included in each category and check off what you’ve consumed to easily plan your next meal(s).  You’ll wonder how you managed without it.

Healthy Habits® is here to support you to stay vitally healthy in order to live your happiest and most satisfying life. Thank you for sharing our articles and information with your loved ones. We pride ourselves on being a quality resource for you and your family.

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