The longest-lived healthful people neither diet or workout. Those who live in Nicoya Costa Rica, or Okinawa, or Loma Linda California, for example. Instead of excluding a tableau of food, they eat what their (lucky) environment affords; vegetables and beans and wholegrains are common denominators. Instead of attending gyms, Nicoyans, Okinawans and Seventh Day Adventists tend their crops and gardens.

Contrary to prescribing a set-list of what to eat or how to workout, food and exercise for the body-healthy minded are recommendations, ancillary rather than compulsory. (Any ‘Instagram lifestyle’ is pernicious fiction.) Consider that natural foods or what we are ‘meant’ to eat, are not universal for everyone – those with allergies or taste aversion or eating disorders or nonabundant circumstances.

That said, the nutritional science is indisputable. Eating a plant-based diet is better. Better for health, animals, and the environment. Instead of excluding what should be eaten (problematic), what has the most utility is focusing on what is eaten, on eating more nutritious food than excluding so-called junk foods and meat. Rather than evade cookies, eat lots of kale to satiate hunger – so there is less desire for high-sugar foods and meat comes to feel far from inevitable. And comes to be a superfluous treat, not the core of each meal.

(I have been vegetarian on-and-off since I can’t remember when. I have managed a meatless year and am now limiting the dairy and egg in my diet with Dr Greger’s cookbook.)

I never reach all the targets in Dr Greger’s Daily Dozen – of 12 daily habits – but I do my best to.

Beans

Edamame, tofu, tempeh, peas, kidney, haricot, lentils, black, butter

Berries

Blueberries, barberries, blackberries, cherries, cranberries, goji berry, raspberry, strawberry

Non-berry fruits

Apples, dried apricots, avocado, bananas, clementines, dates, dried figs, kiwi, limes, nectarines, oranges, pears, black plums, pomegranates

Cruciferous Vegetables

Rocket, bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, mustard greens, watercress and so forth

Greens

Rocket, collard greens, kale, spinach, swiss chard and so forth.

Other Vegetables

Artichokes, asparagus, beetroot, peppers, carrots, sweetcorn, garlic, mushrooms, okra, onions, pumpkin, sea vegetables, snap peas, squash, sweet potato, tomatoes, courgette and so forth.

A teaspoon of flaxseeds

Flaxseed is proven to be good for those who are premenopausal; but risky for those who are postmenopausal. For those who are not, it is an effective blood pressure reducer and provides a vegetarian source of omega fatty acids (honestly not as good a ratio of DLA to DHA as fish oils though, but vegetarian.)

Nuts and Seeds

Almonds, brazil, cashew, chia seeds, hazelnuts, hemp seeds, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame, sunflower, walnuts and so forth.

Those who eat three handfuls of nuts regularly tend to live longer. Eating walnuts has even been shown to halve the incidence of breast cancer. (Correlation does not mean causation, I know. But if it’s that eaters are healthy in many other ways, including eating nuts, that still recommends nuts and the rest of the daily dozen.)

Whole Grains

Barley, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oats, popcorn, quinoa, rye, teff, whole-wheat pasta, wild rice and so forth.
The slow release of sugars is better for the bloodstream and mitigating insulin resistance.

Herbs & Spices

Allspice, basil, bay leaves, cardamom, chilli powder, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, cumin, curry powder, dill, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, horseradish, lemongrass, marjoram, mustard powder, nutmeg, oregano, smoked paprika, parsley, pepper, peppermint, rosemary, saffron, sage, thyme, turmeric, and vanilla.

The greatest concentration of antioxidants which mitigate free-radical damage (inflammation) are in herbs and spices.

Beverages

Tomato juice, teas, coffee and low-sugar mocktails.

And… Walking. Half an hour of walking each day is good for preventing disease, and encouraging improved mood. Perhaps the model of something one must do rather than something one gains or consumes leads to painful exercise. (The gentler the exercise the less likely to quit, I find.)