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RNZ Interview: Doug Wilson on ageing and longevity

If you want to live a long healthy life – exercise, socialise and eat a Mediterranean-style diet, says medical academic and author of Ageing for Beginners Doug Wilson.

Personal longevity is about 25 percent dictated by genes and about 75 percent dictated by "luck and lifestyle", says the London-based New Zealander who describes himself as "pretty fit and pretty well" at 80.

Keep an eye on your health so you can take action as early as possible, says Wilson.

"Use the medical system to get early diagnosis of those things that you can have treated and therefore eliminate them from having a negative potential on the rest of your life."

The diet with the most consistently proven longevity benefits (which is also by far the most studied) is a Mediterranean-style diet low in meat with plenty of fish, fruit, vegetables and olive oil.

Eating this way can reduce the risk of premature death by heart attack or stroke by about 30 percent, compared to a standard Western diet or even a medically prescribed low-fat diet, Wilson says.

Many people as they get older have an inadequate ability to absorb important vitamins and minerals, so taking supplementary Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, folic acid, magnesium and zinc can be helpful, he says.

Listen to full interview via RNZ here.


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