Food to improve your vitality

What should you be eating right now to live a long and happy life? The average human lifespan is currently 71 years. In this blog we look at foods packed with vitality that are eaten by those who live the longest, and happiest lives according to the World Happiness Report.

Sticky rice and fermented cabbage

The group of people who live longest on the planet are the South Koreans who eat ‘kimchi’ (a fermented cabbage, garlic and pepper dish) with almost every meal. The life expectancy for South Koreans is soon to be over 90 years! Fermented foods have been shown to decrease the risk of cancer and lower cholesterol as has their daily practice of meditation and mindfulness. Fermented foods like kefir and sauerkraut may be easier to include in your diet as a South African.

Tofu, sweet potato and a little bit of fish

A small group of southern Japanese islands known as Okinawa or ‘the land of immortals’ is home to more than 400 centenarians. The elderly community that lives here are socially and physically active which may also explain their high quality of life.

Olive oil, vegetables and wine

In Spain this healthy Mediterranean diet combined with the way it is eaten means that residents live well into their 80s. What appears to be so powerful is their cultural practice of stopping work at 2pm to walk home and eat a big meal slowly, together, followed by a delicious nap known as a ‘siesta’.

Noodles, rice and seafood

Those living in Singapore base their diet around these three food pillars. Although heavy in carbohydrates, the locals easily use up these calories as they exercise in parks and gyms across the city.

As you can see, how the food is eaten is as important as what the food is. Shoveling these foods in as fast you can in your lunch break is not going to help you live longer. However, finding a way to feed your body the nutrients, social interaction, physical activity and rest that it needs will ultimately help you live a longer, healthier life. 

What diet appeals to you most and which cultural practice would you love to take on board?

How to start eating for energy

Rest is recovery and food is fuel so if you are looking to have more energy there is no greater combination than good sleep and good nutrition.

Whilst there are many conflicting ideologies when it comes to nutrition and weight-loss there is actually much consensus amongst sleep scientists when it comes to eating for sustained energy.

Here are some logical points to consider when planning what you put in your mouth:

Energy input must equal energy output…

If you are not eating enough, you will not have the energy you need to perform all day long.

Meals should be small and include protein…

Protein helps to keep your blood sugar levels stable.

If you want to have fewer energy dips then you will need to add foods such as biltong, full-fat cheese, nuts and hummus to your lunch box.

Avoid large meals heavy in carbohydrates…

Especially if you don’t want to feel sleepy after lunch.

Large meals require blood to divert away from your brain towards your digestive organs. If you want to feel alert, you will need blood flow in your brain.

Keeping your brain and body hydrated…

Will help you to keep going.

Caffeine can help pick you up but it can also lead to dehydration. Your brain consists of 73% water so its ability to do its job is impaired when it gets dry. Drinking water throughout the day is the best way to stay energetic and bright throughout your day.

Start eating for energy

The great news is eating this way will in turn help you sleep well. And sleeping well will help you find it easier to make good food selections during your day.

Here’s to fuelling your best life with good sleep and great food.

Should you eat that midnight snack?

YES…

Regular waking during sleep can signal low blood sugar. Grabbing a midnight snack can restore low blood sugar levels, cause a spike in insulin that is required to fall asleep and give you something simple to do when you wake up. It is better to know what you will do if you wake up then to lie in bed fearing what to do if you wake.

Eating any of these carb, mineral and vitamin-B rich foods will help you fall asleep faster than eating no snack at all.

  1. Cherries with full cream yogurt
  2. A bowl of warm oats and honey
  3. A glass of warm full-cream milk
  4. A turkey sandwich
  5. Banana coated in peanut butter

NO…

 Regular waking can also be a sign of sleep apnea – a condition linked closely with central obesity. If you have gained weight and know that you snore when you sleep then losing some weight could help your overall sleep quality by creating more space and less pressure in your airways.

Avoid eating anything after 7pm and when you wake skip the high calorie ‘slaap kos’. Instead, have one of these low calorie options:

  1. Chamomile tea
  2. Rooibos tea with a teeny dash of skim milk
  3. A glass of water to down some magnesium

Not sure why you are waking? See your GP to get a regular health check to rule out any common sleep thieves.

Get the sleep you deserve on a Sealy