Eating for Longevity
Foods to keep your heart, brain, and bones healthy.
Foods for Strong Bones continued...
Dark green leafy vegetables: Collard greens, spinach, and broccoli are good sources of calcium.
Tofu: Look for brands made with calcium sulfate, which contain the highest levels of calcium. A half-cup contains about 250 milligrams of calcium. (Adult women should consume about 1500 milligrams a day, according to Heaney.)
Unfortunately, getting enough vitamin D turns out to be trickier than getting enough calcium. Although many foods are fortified with vitamin D, diet alone isn’t able to provide enough. Our skin converts sunlight to vitamin D; but with age, that process becomes less efficient. (During the winter months in most parts of the United States, the sun is too weak to generate vitamin D production.)
While experts continue to debate the optimal levels of vitamin D, Heaney recommends taking 1,000 to 2,000 international units (IU) a day in supplement form. Boosting vitamin D is particularly important as you get older, he points out, since the skin becomes less efficient at generating this crucial nutrient from sunlight.
Beyond Nutrients: The Joy of Eating
A diet abundant in nutrients is obviously important to longevity. So is enjoying what you eat-- and especially finding joy in sitting down to meals with family and friends.
Studies of centenarians the world over suggest that social connections and finding meaning in life are both crucial to longevity. The long-lived people of Okinawa say one reason they enjoy long and healthy lives is something they call ikigai, or “finding your reason to live.”