The ultimate Eat It To Beat It foods are the ones that help you live longer and stay healthy. And there’s been a lot of research in the longevity area recently.
For starters, a 20-year study from University of California researchers discovered that common sense, good judgment, persistence, and commitment to hard work are some of the personality traits that predict a long life. Another study found that those who sleep 5 to 6.5 hours a night live the longest—they found that less than five hours is not enough sleep and eight hours too much.
Certain foods can help increase our lifespans, too. Here are three that could help you live longer.
Resveratrol is a compound in red wine that comes from grape skins and gives grapes their red color. Recently scientists discovered that resveratrol increases the activity of specific genes called sirtuins that protect against diseases of aging by revving up the mitochondria, the little batteries inside our cells.
Protecting our DNA from damage is another way alcohol can help you live longer. Researchers have discovered that the length of our telomeres (the strands of DNA found on the ends of chromosomes) determines how long we will live. One recent study found that while caffeine shortens our telomeres, alcohol lengthens them. Of course, drinking in moderation is key.
The bacteria that live in our gut are gaining new appreciation in the medical world every day. That’s because there is a sophisticated relationship between our gut flora (or microbiota, as researchers call it) and our immune system. In fact, researchers now believe that the immune system “lives” in our gut.
Now researchers are testing whether or not certain strains of probiotics can increase lifespan. They found that mice fed the bacterial strain Bifidobacterium animalis lactis lived longer and were healthier than mice that did not receive the probiotic.
Sauerkraut, kifir, lacto-fermented pickles, and miso are all good sources of probiotics. To make sure you are getting this particular strain, look on the back of your yogurt for bifidobacterium, or you might consider a probiotic supplement.
Polyphenols are molecules found in plants that protect them against ultraviolet radiation and infections. Researchers have found these molecules to be protective for people too. A study in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who consume 650 mg a day of polyphenols live longer than those who get less then that.
Cherries offer up to 1200 mg of polyphenols per serving. Other rich sources are blueberries, with up to 700 mg per serving, and eggplant, with up to 1500 mg per serving.
Dave Zinczenko, ABC News nutrition and wellness editor, is a New York Times No. 1 bestselling author. His latest book, "Eat It to Beat It!" is full of food swaps, meal plans and the latest food controversies. Sign up here for his free newsletter now!