These Are A Holistic Nutritionist's Top 5 Favorite Longevity-Supporting Foods
It's difficult to discuss longevity without bringing up sirtuins. That's because these little proteins delay the shortening of telomeres, aka the DNA "caps" at the ends of a chromosome. Since the natural process of aging is due to telomere shortening, it's certainly a worthwhile conversation to have. (If you need a refresher on sirtuins, take a gander here.)
So how can you boost the sirtuins in your body? Well, you can up-regulate autophagy (which has been associated with a longer, healthier life span), or you can eat sirtuin-activating foods, also known as "sirtfoods."
"Sirtuin genes are linked to longevity and metabolism," holistic nutritionist Kelly LeVeque shares on the mindbodygreen podcast. "We thought they could only be activated by fasting, but sirtuins can be activated by food." So which sirtuin-activating foods should we be eating? Below, LeVeque's list of sirtfood superstars.
5 sirtuin-activating foods.
A diet high in sirtfoods has been shown to prevent chronic diseases, which thereby increases life span and healthy aging. Of course, much more research is necessary before we can consider these foods a helpful treatment for age-related diseases, but it certainly doesn't hurt to add them to your plate. While there are many more sirtfoods to name (find a full list here), LeVeque discusses a few of her all-time favorites:
- Capers: These flavorful little buds are full of quercetin, a polyphenol compound found to increase sirtuin activity. Specifically, research suggests the quercetin has protective properties against a number of diseases, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even asthma. Try sprinkling some nutrient-rich capers on salads, pastas, or this lemony chicken piccata.
- Celery: Celery's sirtuin-activating nutrients come from the flavonoids apigenin and luteolin, both of which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties in lab and animal studies. While the jury's still out on the infamous celery juice (read: There isn't enough data to recommend juicing over eating the whole stalk), the vegetable itself has impressive amounts of vitamins A and C, beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber. Try this cozy, slow-roasted celery side dish as temperatures start to dip.
- Green tea: Green tea is capital-B beloved for its polyphenol content. Chock-full of healthy phytochemicals like epigallocatechin gallate (aka, EGCG) and L-theanine, green tea has been shown to have significant effects on longevity; specifically, one study found that participants who drank five or more cups of green tea per day had a 16% lower risk of cardiovascular death and a 26% lower risk of dying from any cause, compared to those who drank less than one cup per day.
- Cilantro: Cilantro also contains quercetin, which as mentioned can protect against a multitude of chronic conditions. Cilantro in particular has also been shown to lower blood sugar by activating enzymes that remove sugar from the blood, women's health dietitian Valerie Agyeman, R.D., has previously told mbg. Not to mention, cilantro adds a pungent, spicy flavor to dishes—try adding the garnish to salsas, curries, and soups to elevate the taste. According to LeVeque: "The more flavor you're adding to your dish, the more you're actually eating so many chemical benefits."
- Strawberries: Finally, strawberries contain the sirtuin-activating compound fisetin, which research has shown can stimulate the brain-signaling pathways that enhance long-term memory. Another study touts fisetin for its anticarcinogenic effects. Much more research is necessary to make a firm connection (as with all of these longevity-supporting foods), but the available evidence sounds promising.
Incorporating a few sirtfoods into your eating plan can help you build quite the healthy menu for longevity. But sirtuins or not, eating a variety of nutrient-rich, whole foods is always a good idea. After all, as LeVeque notes, "It pays to mix up the colors and flavors on your plate."
Jamie Schneider is the Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.