No one-size-fits-all diet for improving longevity

Girl holding vegan, detox Buddha bowl with turmeric roasted chickpeas, greens, avocado, persimmon, blood orange, nuts and pomegranate.

January 11, 2024 — Diet plays an important role in helping people live longer and reduce their risk of suffering from debilitating chronic diseases during their older years. But eating healthy doesn’t mean following a rigid formula, according to Frank Hu, Fredrick J. Stare Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology and chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Rather, he said in a January 6 CNBC article, identify whole foods you enjoy and make your own healthy eating pattern.

Hu suggested aiming to add more whole, minimally processed foods, especially plant foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes to every meal—and to reduce consumption of heavily processed foods like snacks and sodas.

Certain eating patterns such as the Mediterranean Diet, healthy plant-based diets, or the Okinawan Diet, are rich in whole foods and have been linked to reduced disease risk and improved longevity. Hu said that people can mix and match elements of these diets—or use their basic principles to create something new.

“That’s how to actually improve their enjoyment and also long-term adherence to dietary patterns,” Hu said, noting that it’s important to “be more flexible and enjoy the healthy diet.”

One way to make mealtime more enjoyable—and to potentially improve chances of living longer—is to prioritize making it a time for social gathering, Hu said. He added, “Eating healthy food together not only nourishes our bodies, but also nourishes our souls.”

Read the CNBC article: 4 simple ways to eat for longevity in the new year, according to a Harvard nutrition expert

Photo: iStock/sveta_zarzamora