We’re all a bit cynical of the diet claims we see and hear each day. There always seems to be a new pill or fad diet promising magic results on the market.

However, could it be possible that by simply eating a healthy, low-calorie diet – no fads or pills – you could not only lose weight, but you could extend your vitality and longevity too?

Dr. Roy Walford, the late University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) gerontologist noted for his studies on the affects that diet has on longevity, discovered that by reducing the caloric intake of laboratory mice by 40 percent, their lifespan nearly doubled from 24 to 36 months. Not only was their life extended, but they also maintained the mental and physical characteristics of mice one-sixth their age.

In a 1996 interview with Life Extension Magazine, Dr. Walford was asked, “What can the average adult do… to extend his or her lifespan?” To which Dr. Walford replied, “Eat a high quality diet, eat less, and don’t eat empty calories.”

Surprisingly, while the caloric restriction diet may sound intimidating, the average intake of calories is still around 1500 to 1900 calories per day. That’s not a whole lot different than many other calorie reduction diets. The difference is that the food eaten is nutrient-dense, low in calories, and devoid of empty calories.

Health, Longevity is About Returning to the Basics

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Consider the way humans were meant to eat in the beginning, before all of the highly processed foods flooded the market. They ate fruit and vegetables, eggs, lean meats, dairy and whole grains.

Next time you visit a grocery store, take a walk around the perimeter. In most cases, you’ll see the produce, dairy, eggs, fish, meat, poultry and bakery departments. And, if you’re eating a naturally healthy diet, what more do you need?

Other than a quick visit to the frozen foods section to pick up a bag of flash-frozen fruit or vegetables, you should avoid the inner sanctum of the grocery store where you’ll find the most highly processed foods.

Now that you have a basketful of nutritious foods, you’ll need to learn how to prepare them in ways that make them tasty while retaining their healthful qualities. Indeed, finding a way to make healthy foods tasty and satisfying is the key to sticking to any diet.

There are plenty of recipes available to help you learn how to best use herbs, spices, and olive oil to make your cooking healthy. “The Longevity Diet” written by Brian M. Delaney and Lisa Walford, offers simple meal plans and recipes.

That is to say, that while our taste buds love the flavor of fattening foods, sugary sodas and treats, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can adjust to eating healthier.

Before you know it, you’ll find yourself reaching for the oil and vinegar salad dressing rather than the creamy ranch. You’ll also be surprised to find yourself walking right by that box of donuts without as much as a glance.

According to Dr. Walford, if you improve the quality of the food you eat, you can be satisfied with fewer calories.

Understanding How Diet Can Affect Longevity

As aging adults, we need to ensure that our nutritional needs – the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, carbohydrates and fiber based on our gender and age – are being met. Because, like it or not, as we get older we become more prone to diseases such as high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and stroke… and that’s just the beginning.

Our bones, hair and nails get brittle. Our skin becomes dry, our eyes grow weaker, and the list of physical ailments just goes on and on. And, if that’s not bad enough, we also need to consider how our diet affects our inner self – our spirit, emotions and mind.

Longevity, says Dr. Walford, can’t be achieved by just eating less junk, or even exercising the calories away. A total commitment to a calorie restriction diet, with the emphasis on raw fruits and vegetables, is necessary to thwart the diseases of old age and to slow the aging process.

It’s really that simple. Of course, genetics play a role in a person’s longevity. However, a healthy common-sense diet, coupled with regular exercise, meditation and a good mental attitude are tools that we can use to increase our physical energy and mental clarity well into our later years.

Talk to your doctor before starting any new diet or exercise regimen to ensure that you remain nutritionally balanced.