I like it when things are simple
An easy swap for a longer life. Plus, 7 other things worth your time.
One thing I know about myself is that I’m a lot more likely to do things that are good for me if they’re simple. Cases in point:
Eating more mushrooms.
Trying to sleep a bit better.
Getting a little bit more exercise.
Always asking for the first medical appointment of the day.
I’m happy today to turn the column over to Kate, who found a really good example—one that could add years (healthy years, even) to your life. It also comes with a pretty cool interactive website.
Full of beans
None of us are getting any younger (unless there’s a wormhole I haven’t heard about). So it’s always reassuring to find research to help counteract that, like a new study published in the journal PLoS Medicine which suggests that replacing at least some of the red meat in your diet with beans and other legumes can help you live 10 to 13 years longer.
Even better: You don’t just get a longer lifespan. You get a longer healthy lifespan, with fewer or more mild diseases of aging.
Oh, and it doesn’t just apply to Instagram-perfect 20-year-olds, either; the switch can benefit anyone, according to the study, with an average 8.7-year gain for 60-year-olds, and almost 3.5 years for 80-year-olds.
Love your burgers? Can’t stand to give up steak? No worries!
Changing from an average diet to a merely “feasible” diet, instead of an “optimal” one, can still net you 6 to 7 more healthy years.
It’s a pretty robust analysis. The researchers used data from the Global Burden of Disease study, which is a database that tracks 286 causes of death, 369 diseases and injuries, and 87 risk factors in 204 countries and territories around the world.
The key is swapping out red meat and processed meats for whole grains, nuts, and legumes like beans and lentils.
The researchers didn’t go in depth on the effects of eggs or other meats like chicken or pork on longevity, so the benefits of a fully vegetarian or vegan diet are still a little up in the air. But, really, is it bad to get more veggies? Not likely.
I sat and played with a tool the researchers developed called Food4HealthyLife, to see how many years I might stand to gain from tweaking my eating habits.
Overall, the changes it recommends are pretty simple: shoot for about double the average whole grains, amp up your intake of fish and nuts, and cut back by about one serving of red meat per day.
Practically speaking, it might mean starting your day with yogurt topped with fruit and oats, snacking on pistachios, eating a tuna sandwich on rye for lunch with a big bowl of lentil curry over brown rice for dinner, then following it up with some popcorn.
The real trick in all this is to rebalance your eating habits in favor of less processed foods overall. Switching from ground beef to an Impossible Burger isn’t actually going to help; you’re still going to be taking in assorted free radicals and processed fats.
But swapping out half the ground beef in your chili for lentils or kidney beans? That’s a good six months added to your lifespan right there.
This is great news for me, as I’ve recently had to become a strict vegetarian in the wake of my battle with Cushing’s disease. I don’t seem to be able to digest meat correctly anymore. My tongue feels thick, my throat is scratchy, and my stomach hints at impending rebellion.
Thankfully, I’m a big fan of pretty much any legume you can name, so if I can squeeze in some more whole grains, I might actually stand a chance of clawing back a few healthy years lost to excess stress.
Right, so where did I put that recipe for mushroom, quinoa, and lentil burgers…?
7 other things worth knowing today
President Biden gave his State of the Union address last night to a divided Congress that nevertheless stood unanimous in response to his warning to Vladimir Putin over Ukraine, and his call to defend “every inch” of NATO. Specific Ukraine-related details: release of 60 million barrels of oil (US and allies) from the strategic reserves; a ban on all Russian flights in US airspace; and a pledge to seize the apartments, yachts, and “other ‘ill-begotten gains’ of Russian oligarchs.” (AP)
Russian’s former foreign minister (Andrei V Kozyrev, 1990 to 1996) publicly called on all Russian diplomats to resign in protest of the invasion of Ukraine. Separately, Apple, BMW, and Nike basically stopped doing business in Russia; Russia responded with “capital controls” and “temporary restrictions on exiting Russian assets” designed to stop companies from taking assets out of the country. Oh, and the deal to send EU fighter jets to Ukraine apparently fell apart. (Kozyrev on Twitter, Fox Business, Yahoo Finance, CNN, Air Force Times)
Yellowstone National Park celebrated its 150th birthday yesterday; it was the first national park in the US. (NPR)
Major League Baseball canceled opening day, as owners and players remain far apart on a collective bargaining agreement. The Major League Baseball Players Association said its members are “disgusted, but not surprised” by MLB’s decision. (CNBC)
“I spent $4,000 to be on The Bachelor, and I got sent home the first night.” (Insider)
The hunt for giant black bear “Hank the Tank” has been called off due to DNA evidence suggesting that the bear burglar operating in Lake Tahoe is actually three bears. (SacBee)
You might know that before he was president of Ukraine, Volodymir Zelenskyy was the creator and star of a Ukrainian TV show called Servant of the People, in which he played a teacher who became the unlikely fictional president. Well, it turns out there was a scene in the show in which he gets a phone call from a fictional Angela Merkel, letting him know about Ukraine’s application to join the EU. You can check out the scene below.
Thanks for reading. Screenshot: me. Want to see all my mistakes? Click here.