6 Best Drinking Habits for a Longer Life, Say Dietitians
Between getting regular physical activity, cutting out processed foods, and upping your intake of fruits and vegetables, there are lots of measures you can take to increase your odds of living a longer life. But did you know that certain drinking habits can tack on a few years to your lifespan, too?
In fact, scientists have long been examining why people in certain regions of the world known as the "Blue Zones" tend to live longer, and it seems to have a lot to do with their diet. Some of these regions include Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Icaria in Greece, and Okinawa in Japan. Whereas the average longevity for a person in the U.S. is 78, it's not uncommon for people in the Blue Zones to live to be well over 100.
"Their lifestyle habits, including what they eat and drink, are given credit for their longevity and health," says Wendy Lord, RD and consultant for Sensible Digs.
Clearly, these people are onto something. Fortunately, now that we know more about what these people put in their bodies, we can make efforts to emulate their diets to hopefully prolong our lifespans.
Here are some expert-approved drinking habits you'll want to adopt for a longer life. Then, for more healthy tips, be sure to read about The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science.
Get your fruits and veggies in through a straw.
People in the Blue Zones typically eat a 95% plant-based diet. So, the more diverse fruits and veggies you can pack into your daily smoothies the better.
"Research suggests that eating ten servings of fruits and vegetables every day could prevent over 7 million premature deaths caused by heart disease, cancer, and other chronic illnesses," says Kim Dalzell, PhD, RD, founder of Cancer Nutrition IQ.
"Regardless of how young or old you are, finding ways to eat a plant-rich diet could potentially increase your life expectancy," Dalzell continues. "When you consume a plant-based diet, your cells become flooded with health-promoting phytonutrients that can boost your longevity and vitality potential by protecting against toxins, strengthening immunity, and repairing tissues and blood vessels. Drinking a plant-rich beverage might be the easiest way to achieve those anti-aging benefits."
While all fruits and vegetables offer different beneficial vitamins, you might want to make it a point to add blueberries to your daily blend.
"Decreasing inflammation is crucial for healthy aging, and anthocyanins found in blueberries increase blood flow to the brain to support better memory and calm painful joints," adds Dalzell.
Drink pomegranate juice.
Want to look younger as you age? Who doesn't? As it turns out, there's one particular juice that may do the trick.
Always make it a point to look for 100% pomegranate juice with no added sugars to make sure you're getting the maximum health benefits.
Switch to a plant-based protein powder.
"Refueling after a workout with a plant-based shake is a great way to get quality protein into your diet," says Dalzell. "For example, soy protein preserves muscle mass and promotes lean body mass gains, helping to prevent age-related muscle wasting, known as sarcopenia."
If you're trying to avoid soy products, pea protein is another high-quality option: one scoop can provide a whopping 15 to 20 grams of protein for just 100 calories. Pea protein is also super high in fiber, which has a number of anti-aging benefits, like reducing inflammation, protecting your joints, warding off diabetes, improving gut health, and slashing cholesterol.
Drink your tea or coffee "black."
Both coffee and tea are chock full of antioxidants that help to minimize disease-causing inflammation, says Heidi Moretti, a clinical RD and resident nutritional advisor to Sovereign Laboratories. That said, if you load them up with cream and/or sugar, these beverages may do more harm than good.
"Adding sugar and any type of sweetener offsets the benefits both drinks have in their original forms," says Moretti.
Add probiotic drinks to your routine.
"A healthy gut prevents the colonization of pathogens, detoxifies the body, and generates key metabolites important for a healthy immune response," says Moretti. "Fermented beverages like kefir and kombucha increase the healthy gut bacteria in your digestive tract and help support a healthy inflammation and immune response."
Moretti advises always checking the label to make sure the sugar content isn't high. You'll also want to look for a label that confirms there are "live and active cultures" in the drink—that way, you know you're actually reaping all the benefits of those gut-friendly bacteria.
Enjoy some red wine—in moderation.
"In moderation, alcohol has been shown to have benefits for longevity," says Lord.
The keyword here is moderation: that means no more than one drink per day for women, and no more than two per day for men, according to Lord. Studies have shown that drinking alcohol in excess of this can actually have the reverse effect, taking years off your life.
Also, not all alcoholic beverages are created equal. Your best bet is to do as many in the Blue Zones do, and sip on a glass of polyphenol-rich red wine.
"Resveratrol, a specific type of polyphenol in red wine, protects the lining of the blood vessels and the heart, and it has been shown to lower bad cholesterol levels," adds Lord.