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Smart nutrition choices that could help you live longer

Smart nutrition choices that could help you live longer

At Step One Foods, we like to think of back-to-school month as back-to-health month, an opportunity to renew our commitment to our overall health.

Don’t worry: We’re not talking about completely revamping your lifestyle. We’re talking about small, manageable changes that can yield huge health dividends. Each week, I’ll share tips based on the four pillars of healthy longevity: nutrition, exercise, social connectedness and joy.

First up: Eating a whole-food, plant-based diet.

Most people who live in Blue Zones (places with populations who tend experience long, active lives), eat a predominantly vegetarian diet. They may eat some meat and fish, but those items make up a small percentage of their caloric intake. Instead, most of their calories come from fresh, local produce that’s home-cooked, often home-grown and full of nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants and healthy fats.

Before you panic, succeeding at the nutrition pillar does not mean you need to run out and plant your own garden! It simply means making small adjustments to what you eat already. Instead of drinking a glass of orange juice, eat a whole orange. Instead of opting for several highly processed crackers, grab a handful of raw nuts or seeds. It’s not complicated; in fact, the simpler the food you’re choosing, the better. The goal is to eat food in its original form (or close to it) and mostly from the plant end of the food spectrum.

Step One Foods can help. I’ve made sure that each of our products is full of whole-food, plant-based, nutrient dense ingredients, such as chia seeds, Saskatoon berries, almonds and walnuts. So when you swap out two less-healthy snacks for our products, you can see huge health gains.

How can making even small dietary changes yield a big impact? It’s probably best summarized by a statement I once heard at a Food as Medicine conference:

“Food talks to your genes and tells them what to do.”

We forget that food is a bioactive substance – as bioactive as a drug.  No wonder what we eat affects everything!

So before you fall for the trendy ketogenic diet know that recent research compared plant-based diets to keto and found that the plant-based approach is better at reducing your risk of cancer and better for long-term health.  Although we already knew this!  Inhabitants of Blue Zones experience far less cancer than we do and their diets are about as far from keto as you can get.

When you consider that diet is a huge part of our physical well-being, you can see that making even small changes, like grabbing a banana instead of the banana muffin, is actually a big deal.

So starting this month, I would encourage you to commit to making one small positive dietary change that you think you can stick with and enjoy.  Because if there's one thing I know, it's never too late to send your genes better messages!

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