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Jason Shon Bennett’s three must-have foods

Renowned health mentor Jason Shon Bennett shares some health wisdom over a cup of Ti Ora Tea.

What can we do to stay young?

Eat less – around 1800 calories a day (a little more or less depending on exercise levels and age of course). Eat a plant-based wholefood diet based around fresh fruits, mostly vegetables and a heap of legumes and wholegrains. Have a regular daily rhythm around bedtime, wake time, exercise time and meal times. Manage your stress, don’t smoke, cut back or give up alcohol. Do lots of what you love. And practice regular intelligent fasting. Fasting (done intelligently and regularly) is the single best way to stay young.

What cultures live the longest, and why?

There are 10 groups overall that live much longer than we do, with dramatically lower rates of disease, medications and are much happier, fitter and calmer. The Okinawans boast the world’s longest life expectancy; the world’s healthiest lifespan and highest count of centenarians. The longest lived and healthiest centenarian populations around the world all do basically the same thing: they mostly eat a plant-based wholefood diet based around vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, wholegrains and legumes, alongside other commonalities, such as community, support, movement and low levels of poisons like cigarettes, alcohol and hyper-palatable processed foods.

What are your 3 must-haves to add to your diet?

Green tea – for the calming, health benefits and antioxidants. Cabbage – for the fibre, bowel cleansing and prebiotics. Grapefruit – for the nutrition and the stunning bitter taste that stimulates the liver to work harder.

In your opinion what’s the biggest health myth?

There are so many! “You need to eat meat to get your iron and protein” is probably the worst one. I have not eaten a single piece of meat for more than 35 years yet my iron and protein levels are well above average.

For someone wanting to add fasting to their dietary routine what do you suggest as a starting point?

Go easy, go simple, be gentle with yourself. Fasting is not about the body, it is about the mind. It’s an emotional choice, as we have to choose to not eat for a period. Educate yourself so you understand what you are doing, and why. Read my first book Eat Less, Live Long to really understand the miracle and science of fasting.

Why eat a plant-based diet?

The fibre, phytonutrition, carotenoids, antioxidants, possible cancer-fighting elements, heart-protective aspects, lean fat-burning nutrients, vitamins, minerals, healthy complex carbohydrates, balanced proteins, energy-giving power and the effect it has on the brain, mind, your emotions and the planet!

What are the best plant-based foods to eat before and after exercising?

I’m a fan of exercise in the morning on an empty stomach as the centenarian cultures have done so well. They eat after exercise and most plant-based wholefoods such as fresh fruits and vegetables (like sweet potato), for muscle recovery and healthy legumes such as lentils, chickpeas or beans for energy, muscle-building and power.  

What do you eat for breakfast?

Soaked muesli (free recipe on my website jasonshonbennett.com), or soaked jumbo rolled oats, or cooked hulled millet, or just some fruit if I have not exercised.

What foods make us happy?

Happiness is internal of course but a happy microbiome (the home of your gut bacteria) is largely dependent on enough natural fibre-rich, plant-based wholefoods, with their natural flavours intact, served in good combinations. A happy gut = a happier mind.

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