3 Longevity Practices A Nutrition Specialist Learned From Observing People 70+
There's a reason wisdom is often associated with age. The more experiences, mistakes, and lessons a person faces—the better advice they can give. So when it comes to strategies for health and longevity, certified nutrition specialist and behavior coach Esosa Edosomwan, M.S., CNS, LDN, decided to go directly to the source.
She began interviewing people like 79-year-old Annette Larkins, aka the "Ageless Woman"; supercentenarian Bernando LaPallo; and more, to uncover their secrets to living longer. After conducting these interviews, Edosomwan noticed everyone she spoke to had rituals in three areas: diet, elimination, and lifestyle:
While there's debate among doctors and nutritionists regarding the healthiest diet for longevity, the general consensus is that eating a diverse array of whole foods, rich in nutrients, does support an overall healthy lifestyle. For some, that might include sustainably sourced meat and fish, and for others, that means an entirely meatless diet.
Of the people she spoke to, "a lot of them were eating high plant-based diets," Edosomwan says, "but not all." The key takeaway is to find the healthy eating style that works for you and stick to it, she says.
Genetic testing, working with a nutritionist, or keeping track of your body's response to certain foods, are all effective methods for finding the right type of diet for you.
Digestion may not be a sexy topic, but maintaining regularity when it comes to poop and urine can help support kidney, liver, and gut health. According to Edosomwan, the longevity role models seem to understand this priority.
"They're drinking enough water; they're eliminating properly; their colons are functioning well," she explains.
The majority of the immune system lives within the gut, so by maintaining a healthy digestive system, you can help protect the body against inflammation and disease1. Staying hydrated and eating fiber-rich foods are two natural ways to support these systems.
Along with nutrition and organ support, prioritizing mental fitness also seems to play a role in longevity. "I really did notice that all of them had a very positive mental attitude. They all were very skewed toward looking on the brighter side of life," she says. "That probably had to do with being balanced nutritionally and incorporating healthy lifestyle tools."
Those tools include exercise, mindfulness, or prayer. "Bernando LaPallo was a Christian and was really big on reading his Bible, whereas other people would do meditation or yoga all the time," she tells mbg.
Regardless of the specific method, finding a way to be centered can help manage stress, which influences life expectancy. Research shows that stress is the root cause of most health conditions2, and regardless of a healthy diet and exercise, Edosomwan says chronic stress will override all those good habits.
After chatting with people anywhere from 70 to 100-plus years old, Edosomwan found three distinct habits consistent among all of them. So while she approaches health from a perspective of bio-individuality, "meaning each person is unique," adopting these habits with a personalized spin might add years to your life.
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.