People have long looked for miracle elixirs and magical diets to help keep them healthy into old age, and a recent study seems to have found just that. The new research out of the Helfgott Research Institute at the National University of Natural Medicine found that a specific combination of foods can add more than three years to your life in just eight weeks. While a regimented diet is essential, the researchers found, their two-month program also consisted of sleep, exercise, and supplement guidelines that promote longevity, too.
The study, which was published in the journal Aging in April, included 43 healthy adult men between 50 and 72 years old; 21 of them followed the diet, exercise, sleep, stress management, and supplement regimen and 22 acted as the control group.
Lead author Kara Fitzgerald, ND, explained in a statement that the program “was designed to target a specific biological mechanism called DNA methylation and in particular the DNA methylation patterns that have been identified as highly predictive of biological age.” The term “DNA methylation patterns” refers to “the accumulation of damage and loss of function to our cells, tissues, and organs,” which is believed to be the driving force behind aging, the researchers explain.
“What is extremely exciting is that food and lifestyle practices, including specific nutrients and food compounds known to selectively alter DNA methylation, are able to have such an impact on those DNA methylation patterns we know predict aging and age-related disease,” said Fitzgerald. To see what you should be eating and doing to add 3.23 years to your life, read on.
The researchers configured a very specific diet for participants in the treatment group to follow during the eight-week study. Each week, they had to eat nine ounces of liver and five to 10 eggs.
The diet was also heavy in vegetables, with participants consuming the following each day: two cups of dark leafy greens (like kale, spinach, and collards); two cups of cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts); three cups of colorful vegetables (but not white potatoes or sweetcorn); and one or two beets.
Participants also ate four tablespoons of pumpkin seeds and four tablespoons of sunflower seeds or their respective butters every day. On top of that, they were told to consume one serving of methylation adaptogens, which could come in the form of half a cup of berries, half a teaspoon of rosemary, half a teaspoon of turmeric, two medium cloves of garlic, two cups of green tea, or three cups of oolong tea. Lastly, participants had to pack in six ounces of grass-fed, pastured, organic, and hormone/antibiotic-free animal protein and two servings of low glycemic fruit (like strawberries, apples, and peaches).
The diet also came with general guidance to get organic food whenever possible; stay hydrated; use “healthy” oils (like coconut, olive, flaxseed, and pumpkin seed oil); balance different types of fat; and avoid added sugar, dairy, grains, and legumes. Additionally, participants were advised not to eat between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. Researchers also asked them to minimize their use of plastic food containers, which can cause you to ingest chemicals that negatively affect your health.
Exercising was another crucial part of the eight-week regimen. Participants in the treatment group were prescribed a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise daily for at least five days a week, totaling two and a half hours weekly.
And the workouts couldn’t be phoned in, either—each exercise session had to be at an intensity of 60 to 80 percent of “maximum perceived exertion.”
In accordance with the regimen, those in the treatment group also took one serving of PhytoGanix®, “a combination of organic vegetables, fruits, seeds, herbs, plant enzymes, prebiotics, and probiotics,” twice a day.
Sleep is just as important as diet and exercise when it comes to your health. The men in the treatment group were instructed to average a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night.
Additionally, they were directed to engage in a specific stress management technique. Twice daily, they were instructed to use the breathing exercise “The Relaxation Response,” created by Herbert Benson, MD, which involves six steps, according to Massachusetts General Hospital. Throughout the exercise, you sit quietly, close your eyes, relax all your muscles, breathe through your nose, and say the word “one” silently each time you breathe out. You repeat this process for 10 to 20 minutes.