Longevity Lifestyle #5 - Food: Let's cut through the clutter

Longevity Lifestyle Series








Reference Lab

Aug 12, 2022



The Longevity Lifestyle Series will be a series of informative posts featuring simple and affordable science-backed practices that have been proven to extend longevity. You can incorporate each practice into your daily life to feel more energetic, to slow the rate of your aging, and to improve your healthspan (the number of years you live healthy and disease-free). 

Each post will include science-based explanations for why each practice improves healthspan and tips on how to best incorporate them, based on personal experience and research from the author. 

Original posts can be found at livelongerworld.substack.com, a newsletter dedicated to delivering actionable tips and science-backed protocols to optimize health and extend longevity.

Topics to be featured in the series:

  1. Cold showers / cold exposure
  2. Fasting (intermittent fasting + longer fasts)
  3. Exercise and mitochondrial health
  4. Sleep (the science behind sleep’s impact and sleep tips)
  5. Sauna
  6. Longevity foods and gut health (+ what not to eat)
  7. Supplements for longevity (vitamins and minerals)


Meet the author
: Aastha Jain is a longevity enthusiast who commits herself to performing in-depth research on health optimization techniques, often self-experimenting, to deliver actionable and impactful recommendations to effectively extend your healthspan through her newsletter, livelongerworld.substack.com. She takes the time to do the research and test each health optimization practice so you don’t have to!

Besides her writing, she is also the host of the Live Longer World Podcast through which she interviews researchers, entrepreneurs, and advocates who are transforming the field of longevity science. You can find her podcast, Live Longer World, on all platforms including YouTube, Apple podcasts, and Spotify.

Newsletter | YouTube | Podcast | Twitter: @aasthajz | Instagram: @aasthajz


A trusted resource:

“Aastha is an inspiring longevity enthusiast who does an incredible job in curating, simplifying, and summarizing science-based content, offering a valuable resource to guide us on our journey to a healthier, longer life.”

— Carolina Oliveira Reis, PhD, OneSkin CEO & Co-Founder




Let’s Parse through the Clutter on Nutrition Content

I know there is a lot of debate in nutrition and there seems to be no trust in anyone advocating for any type of food because there are several opinions out there. However, I will argue that there is some objectivity around certain foods - I mean, a simple example is that everyone will agree that sugar and processed food is bad for you and eating more vegetables is good for you. I will go a step further and say that when it comes to longevity, there are certain foods within the “healthy foods” category that might add more value than others based on the science and data so far. I call these foods “longevity foods” and I’ve listed them below.

If you want to improve your diet and are trying to parse through the clutter that exists on food content, you can start with this list first and then if you wish to refine your diet further, you can do more research or message me for suggestions. If you want to be anal about your diet (like I am), you can refine it at the edges, but that’s for another day.


01Highest-Impact Longevity Foods:

  1. Cruciferous Vegetables: These include cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts, broccoli sprouts, kale. They contain sulforaphane which helps activate the NRF-2 pathway responsible for 200 genes including antioxidant and anti-inflammatory genes and genes that inactivate harmful compounds that we may be exposed to on a daily basis. They are a big deal. I have an entire post dedicated to cruciferous vegetables here.
  2. Avocados: Avocados are the best! There is a reason millennials shed so much money on avocado toasts - they are not only delicious but also great for longevity. They have NMN which raises NAD+ levels. NAD+ declines with aging, leading to a host of problems. If you’re interested to learn about NAD+, read more here. Okay, granted the NMN levels in avocados may not be high but they are rich in folate, potassium, omega-3 fatty acids and more. They also help reduce LDL-cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol).
  3. Olive Oil: Is this the secret sauce to why Italy has the 4th highest average life expectancy in the world?? Perhaps. Olive oil can lower inflammation, blood glucose, cancer and cardiovascular risk! Extra virgin olive oil can also protect learning and memory. Fyi, if you want to know a secret: I am part of On Deck’s first Longevity Biotech cohort and we had a recent chat with David Sinclair, (Harvard Professor pioneering the field of longevity) where he revealed how he has added more avocados and olive oil to his diet! That’s it, no more revelations for now!
  4. Kale + Spinach: You’re probably living under a rock if you don’t know leafy greens are good for you. So I’m not going to harp on the benefits. Just know that kale is also a cruciferous food and spinach is rich in magnesium, vitamin K1, iron, calcium, fiber and folate. Both are good.
  5. Berries: Berries can improve immune function and gut health in addition to being rich in other vitamins & fiber.
  6. Fermented Food: Gut health is incredibly important as the gut can regulate cognition, immune system, mood, sleep, appetite, and more! A recent study found how a diet rich in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, kombucha increased diversity of healthy gut microbiota and led to decreased inflammation, which is linked to aging. I take 1-2 servings of kimchi or sauerkraut every day.
  7. Walnuts: Walnuts protect against inflammation, they increase gut microbiome diversity, are high in Omega-6 and Oleic acid that activate sirtuins (SIRT 1), which help with DNA damage repair. I’ve written about sirtuins here.
  8. Mushrooms: Mushrooms are a good source of fermentable fiber, they protect against cognitive impairment, and most importantly they protect the mitochondria from aging. (Another way to protect the mitochondria from aging is cold showers, which I wrote about last time.)
  9. Meat or no meat? Sorry meat-lovers, but for longevity, too much meat is not that good, unfortunately. Low-protein diets are actually one of the ways to activate your longevity pathways. Some meat on days you are exercising is probably fine, but otherwise you should get more of your protein from plant sources, if your goal is longevity. Btw, if you want to maximize protein absorption in your muscles, it’s better to eat more protein in the mornings, as compared to later in the day - here is a post on Instagram if you use it. I am personally vegetarian but I have nothing against meat - I’m just telling you what research says.
  10. Turmerxic + Garlic: Turmeric contains curcumin which is well-known for its anti-inflammation benefits and also protects against memory loss as we age. Garlic is rich in allicin, acts like a hormetic stressor (mild stresses that are good for you) and can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. I try to add turmeric and garlic to my food whenever I can!

And that’s it. Really. Start with this list and you will be doing quite well for yourself. Incorporate some of these foods in your diet and replace it with some of the other foods you eat and you will notice a significant improvement in how you feel. But, there are just a few other things to be mindful of in terms of supplements and what not to eat.



02Most important supplements to take:

  1. Vitamin D: Can’t overstate the importance of Vitamin D! Vitamin D protects against DNA damage, depression, accelerated rates of aging, possibly even COVID-19 and much more!
  2. Omega-3 / Fish Oil: If you’re eating fish, you can get Fish Oil from your food. But it’s hard to eat fish everyday, so make sure to supplement on the days you don’t get it from food. Fish oil is important for cognitive functioning, fighting depression & anxiety, brain health, preventing cancer, fighting mental disorders, improving sleep etc. It’s extremely important. If you’re vegan, you could supplement with algae.
  3. Zinc: Important for immunity, metabolism, DNA synthesis. I take it everyday.
  4. Magnesium: Supplement, if you are not getting it from your leafy greens. If you eat your greens or almonds, you’re most likely fine. But of course, you could get your levels tested before supplementing.

The full list of supplements I take is here (it’s the most popular post so far so I assume people want to know). But listed above are the 4 most important ones I think everyone should be taking. If you want to know why micronutrient supplementation is important for long-term health, read here.

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03What Not to Eat:

  1. Avoid sugar as much as you can. It’s worth giving up on the “fun in life” to not consume sugar. The fun comes to bite you not only in the long-term, but in the short-term as well! If you are using added sugar in your tea / coffee, or baking goods at home and want to add sugar, I have a better solution for you. Try allulose or stevia instead. I’ve written more here. Avoiding sugar includes cakes, pastries, sugary beverages like coke, other soft drinks and even juice. Please eat the fruits instead of the juice. You’re mostly just getting sugar from juice without much of the benefits of the fruit itself. Watch out for sugar in products like cereal - read the nutrition label - if it has more than 10g of added sugar per serving, it’s a red flag (I’d argue that even 10g is a high number). Clearly, I care about wanting people to reduce their sugar consumption - it really is toxic!
  2. Processed food like chips, cookies, biscuits, most Indian snacks. They are high in calories with no nutritional content and should be avoided.
  3. Limit alcohol. An occasional glass of wine is fine, but alcohol disrupts sleep and again, is empty calories!

That’s really it. Nutrition doesn’t have to be that hard. Focus on the big levers first. Beyond what I’ve listed, whether you’re doing a ketogenic diet or eating more fruits or whole-grains, that’s all fine! Most people have a sense of the foods that are decently fine for health vs. others that are not, so use your judgment beyond what I’ve listed.

Just remember the basic principles I’ve laid out: certain health foods to eat, some supplements to take, and some foods to avoid and you will be doing great. Of course, as I said earlier, if you want to optimize your health further and be careful about everything you’re ingesting in your body, there are other factors to consider. I’m extra careful about everything I eat, but I understand that it's too much for most people. This is why I wanted to break down the most important food items you can eat without caring too much about every detail. If you begin here, you will be doing great!

And also understand that it’s okay to have slip-ups. I have slip-ups too - especially around my menstrual cycle when I crave sweet foods as do a lot of other girls (sorry if it’s too much information for the men). Don’t aim for perfection but do the best you can. What you eat matters - after all you’re ingesting it into your body and it’s impacting your brain too! So definitely be more careful with your food, but don’t feel bad if you can’t optimize every aspect of it!

Reviewed by Alessandra Zonari, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer (CSO) and Co-Founder of OneSkin

Alessandra earned her Master’s degree in stem cell biology, and her PhD in skin regeneration and tissue engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil in collaboration with the 3B’s Research Group in Portugal. Alessandra did a second post-doctoral at the University of Coimbra in Portugal. She is a co-inventor of three patents and has published 20 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals.

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