In his book, “Healthy at 100”, John Robbins explores the scientifically proven secrets of the world’s healthiest and long-lived populations. He describes the characteristics of various indigenous peoples who are famous for their longevity and health.
These societies contain the world’s healthiest documented elders, longest recorded life expectancies and highest concentrations of centenarians (people above the age of 100). The majority are physically fit, mentally healthy and outgoing. Within these populations rates of heart problems, diabetes, dementia or cancer are extremely low or non-existent. In addition, most have their own teeth and reports of fractures, poor hearing and bad eyesight are rare.
What makes these cultures so different? Robbins points out a few common lifestyle factors:
As each group has developed unique dietary patterns based on their surroundings and what they have to work with, there are some overall common themes that have been discovered.
Due to the fact that our lifestyles and circumstances here in North America may not necessarily resemble those of these cultures, it is difficult to directly compare ourselves and ways of life. However, it is interesting to note the prevalence of plant-based foods in these diets as well as the overwhelming reports of good health and longevity. Regardless of dietary style, many agree that increasing the amount of plant based foods in the diet can lead to positive health benefits as these ingredients are rich in minerals, phytonutrients and fiber, among others. Various professionals who advocate plant-based diets will aim for different ratios of plant to animal-based food. In the end, each person needs to find what works best for them and fits their unique needs. However, if increasing the amount of plant-based foods in your diet is of interest, here are a few tips and precautions.
It is of utmost importance to consume high quality sources in order to attain proper nutrition for each calorie. When choosing ingredients, look for organic, whole foods grown in good soil. Also, aim to sprout, soak and ferment plant foods as much as possible in order to increase nutritional status and reduce “anti-nutrients” that may hinder digestion. When consuming animal products, look for free-range, wild, grass-fed and pasture-raised sources.
Ensure that you are receiving adequate protein and amino acids from your food intake. Do this by combining and rotating a variety of whole grains, nuts and seeds, leafy greens, sea vegetables, beans and legumes in adequate portions throughout the day. Depending on the amount of animal products consumed and other digestive factors, potential deficiencies include Vitamin B12, Omega-3, iron, zinc and calcium, as these may be predominantly found in large amounts from animal foods. Regardless of dietary style, consider natural supplementation if you are not getting adequate amounts from food or due to malabsorption.
Some of the best plant ingredients include spirulina, quinoa, black beans, hemp seeds, almonds, buckwheat, pumpkin seeds and avocado. If you are unsure where to start smoothies, salads, soups and powerbowl recipes are easy, versatile and tasty options! For quick and nutrient-packed options, consider grab-and-go plant-based protein powders and bars.