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August 29, 2021 — 11:07 AM
Whenever an expert drops a nutrition strategy or two, it’s safe to say we pay eager attention. And when said strategies are meant to enhance longevity? Grab a pen—we’re scribbling down notes.
Enter, Sergey Young, a longevity expert, founder of the Longevity Vision Fund, and the author of The Science and Technology of Growing Young: When he joined us on the mindbodygreen podcast, he offered his personal eating techniques for increasing his lifespan. Considering he has a personal mission to live to 200 years old (yes, really!), these tips are meant to truly go the distance.
Below, find out exactly how Young eats for longevity:
“Lifehack No.1 for me was a significant focus on plants,” Young says. After just six months of going plant-based—plus a few supplements and exercise routines—he was able to lower his cholesterol levels by 25%. This change helped him realize just how powerful lifestyle shifts can be: “Our body has this amazing capacity to heal ourselves,” he adds.
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Research backs up the shift, as well: In a study of more than 10,000 adults published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, following a more plant-based diet was associated with better heart health. Not to mention, those who reside in the Blue Zones (aka, the places in the world where people live the longest, healthiest lives) rely on a plant-based diet filled with vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
Although, that’s not to say Young cuts out animal products entirely. “I probably eat meat once every two weeks,” he says. Again, the tip here is to focus on plants—which can be as simple as adding more fruits and vegetables to your diet, if you can.
2. He considers the sources of his meat and fish.
As we mentioned, while Young embraces a largely plant-based diet, he does eat meat or fish about once every two weeks. His biggest tip for doing so in a healthier way? “I’m always looking at the sources,” he notes. Meaning: wild, grass-fed, and pasture-raised, whenever he can. Of course, finding sustainably caught fish or grass-fed meat isn’t always the most attainable option—but if you’re able, Young suggests searching for these healthier sources of animal-based products.
3. He does intermittent fasting.
In addition to what he consumes, an important part of Young’s longevity strategy is what (or rather, when) he doesn’t consume: No surprise, Young is a fan of fasting. And he’s not the only longevity expert to be so—more research is needed, but intermittent fasting has been shown to extend the lifespan in animals; a recent study from 2019 also found that people who followed a time-restricted eating plan enhanced multiple genes associated with longevity (including one that upregulates autophagy—a cellular cleanup process that’s associated with a longer lifespan).
“I fast from Monday evening to Wednesday morning every week,” he explains. (If you do the math, that’s 36 hours.) This is a pretty intense fast, and it’s not the only eating plan that has health benefits. “You just need to listen to your body and consult with your doctor,” Young says. (If you’re curious, here’s the minimum number of hours experts say you may need to fast to reap the benefits.)
It’s also essential to note that fasting is not suitable for everyone, especially those with certain medical conditions or a history of disordered eating. In these cases, it is best to avoid it or speak with your doctor about whether or not there is a healthy way to implement it.
Young’s three tips may offer support when it comes to increasing both lifespan and healthspan (or the quantity and quality of your years). If you’re interested in trying them out, please consider speaking with your doctor to make sure they’re a good fit for you.