How to live longer – expert says there’s one meal you should never skip

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How to live longer – expert says there’s one meal you should never skip

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When it comes to eating a healthy well-balanced diet to increase your overall health and longevity, sometimes we need a little guidance to motivate us to make it happen.

Nicci Roscoe is a Master NLP Practitioner and holistic health and wellbeing expert, and while she’s a huge advocate of having everything in moderation, she admits it’s not always something we all stick to.

She said: “It’s normal to have moments of indulging every so often, but when we constantly feed our bodies with food we don’t need then it’s time to look at changing it by tweaking our diet to increase our wellbeing and lifespan.”

There has been a lot of research linked to eating a well-balanced diet and living longer.

Nicci said: “It’s good to focus on this from an early age to make sure we have all the right nutrients but it’s ok to start your new regime right now whatever your age to give you a new lease of energy and positive outlook. Positive changes to what you eat and drink can play a crucial role in your everyday life and expand your lifespan.”

Overnight oats

Avoid skipping breakfast – meal prepping is key here (Image: GETTY)

Your day-to-day diet greatly impacts your health and the food and drink you consume can influence and affect various aspects of your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Your diet provides the essential nutrients your body needs to function correctly; a balanced diet will ensure you get the right balance of these nutrients to support your body, from the inside out.

“Your diet also plays an important role in your energy levels, weight management, digestive and cardiovascular health, as well as blood sugar regulation, boosting immune function and helping to support your mood and mental health,” added Nicci.

She advised: “Having a combination of rainbow colours in your food is key to a healthy balanced diet. It’s important to have a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. Plenty of fibre is also essential for your gut health and reducing refined sugar intake of biscuits, sweets and chocolates can also help reduce other health risks.

“A ‘healthy balanced way of eating’ gives us so much more energy, helping us to focus and feel good physically, mentally and emotionally for a happier, healthier and longer life.

“Simple, small changes to your diet, like those detailed below can make big differences to your life, increasing longevity and quality of life.”

Cup of coffee

Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with sleep – poor sleep quality can lead to health issues (Image: GETTY)

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One of Nicci’s recommendations is not to skip breakfast.

She explained: “If you’re prone to eating on the go, it’s likely you lead a hectic life, but no matter how busy you are it’s important to start the day off right with a decent breakfast. Eating breakfast helps to kickstart your metabolism and stave off cravings, and it needn’t be an elaborate affair. There are some great options for a healthy breakfast. Instead of grabbing a piece of toast or biscuit on your way out the door try preparing yourself overnight oats the night before. Soak your oats in yoghurt or milk and add some seeds and berries with natural yoghurt and honey.

“You could also make a protein-packed chia seed pudding to last you the week by mixing chia seeds with coconut milk, a little vanilla extract and berries or tropical fruit. Muesli is also a wonderful fibrous option for breakfast, and you can also add natural Greek yogurt with honey too and blueberries which are high in antioxidants. By planning, preparing your food the day before gives you a much healthier option.”

Nicci recommended some other changes to make.

Take control and limit excess or added sugar

If you have a sweet tooth and crave sugary foods, there are ways to take control, said Nicci. “Excess sugar consumption is associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems which can significantly shorten your lifespan. Fruits are naturally sweet and full of fibre too. They may have sugar in them but they’re not the same as consuming packets of sweets and bars of chocolate. Fruit is absolutely the healthier option, especially berries including strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries which are high in fibre, rich in antioxidants and vitamin C and help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

“If you love sparkling fizzy drinks, tweak your treat to plain sparkling water and add a few fresh berries and a squeeze of lemon juice. Experiment with adding fresh mint leaves too, it’s amazing how delicious it can be without adding sugar or sweetener.”

Bowl of brown rice

Wholegrains have been proven to lower the risk of chronic diseases (Image: GETTY)

Pre-prepare meals

If you lack time in the week, pre-preparing or batch cooking meals could be helpful and time/money saving if you’re faced with the option of picking up calorie and fat-laden ready meals or sandwiches when you’re on the go.

Nicci said: “Spend a couple of hours at the weekend cooking some food in batches ready for the week ahead such as homemade soups, salads, roasted vegetables, boiled eggs or savoury muffins that you can eat throughout the week. You could also make extra when you are cooking your evening meals as well so that you have an extra portion for the next day, or you could always freeze it for a later date.”

Cut caffeine

Caffeine is a stimulant that can interfere with sleep, especially if consumed in large amounts or close to bedtime.

Nicci said: “Poor sleep quality and duration have been associated with various health issues, including an increased risk of chronic diseases. By gradually reducing your intake, you may improve your sleep patterns, which could have a positive impact on your overall health. As a first step to reducing your caffeine intake, try switching one of your daily coffees to a decaffeinated herbal tea and increase this daily by having peppermint, chamomile, cinnamon, ginger and fruit teas instead until you are caffeine free.”

Eat healthy fats

Healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and oily fish (salmon and mackerel), can improve heart health and have been associated with lowering levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol and a reduced risk of heart disease.

Nicci said: “A healthy heart is a crucial factor in extending your lifespan, but the benefits of healthy fats don’t stop there. They also have anti-inflammatory properties which can positively influence your health and can help promote mental wellbeing as you age. Try incorporating a small portion of healthy fats into each meal and increase your consumption of oily fish to three x per week to really make the most of these benefits.

“Nuts and seeds are an amazing way of improving your protein levels and are packed full of anti-ageing and healthy nutrients. Nutritional therapist Katie Murray recommends having four brazil nuts per day as an amazing source of your daily needs of selenium (which helps support healthy thyroid levels.) Brazil nuts are an easy, quick and delicious healthy snack to carry with you.”

Increase your protein

Increasing your protein will keep you feeling fuller between meals and reduce unwanted cravings.

Nicci said: “Protein provides the building blocks for all the body’s processes. It provides amino acids that make up our hormones, enzymes, immune system and structural tissues. After the age of 40, muscle mass begins to decline, and loss of muscle mass is directly correlated with a decline in health and wellbeing later in life. Keep up your protein intake to maintain muscle mass by eating high-quality, grass-fed, organic meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, or soaked or sprouted beans and lentils and a variety of nuts and seeds, including a portion of protein with every meal.”

Opt for wholegrain

Wholegrains, such as whole wheat, brown rice, oats, and quinoa, are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, proven to lower the risk of chronic diseases which may shorten your lifespan.

Nicci said: “They’re known to have heart-healthy properties and are more filling and satisfying than refined grains which can help you to manage your weight. Additionally, the fibre in whole grains slows the absorption of sugars in the bloodstream, promoting better overall metabolic health. Set yourself a challenge and change your white pasta to brown and slowly make more healthy swaps.”

Hydrate through the day with water

It can be a challenge to drink lots of water throughout your day to stay hydrated. Nicci advised: “Set your alarm on your phone for every 30 minutes to remind yourself to drink and get yourself a reusable water bottle to keep you motivated. Drinking one and a half to two litres of water a day is ideal.”

Practice mindful eating

Mindful eating is a practice that involves paying full attention to the experience of eating, with all your senses.

Nicci explained: “It’s about being present in the moment during your meals and snacks, rather than eating on autopilot or being distracted by other activities. Practicing mindful eating can be challenging, especially in a fast-paced world with many distractions, however, with time and practice, it can become a natural and rewarding way to approach food and meals and help to extend your lifespan. This is largely due to stress reduction and improved digestion, encouraging you to chew food thoroughly which can help with nutrient absorption.

“Mindful eating can encourage a greater appreciation for whole, nutritious foods which may lead to more conscious choices about food quality and nutritional value, which can support better health.”

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