Vandal Voices Talk Offers Diet Secrets for Reaching 100 Years Old 

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Dr. SeAnne Safaii-Waite, an associate professor of nutrition and dietetics at the University of Idaho, unabashedly sipped a beer while giving a talk on how to live to be 100 years old. Considering the June 7 event, the latest installment in a series of U of I talks called Vandal Voices, took place at Boise Brewing, the crowd couldn't have blamed her even if she didn't justify her choice of beverage mid-presentation.

click to enlarge Dr. SeAnne Safaii-Waite (left) spoke enthusiastically to an all-ages crowd at Boise Brewing on June 7. - LEX NELSON
  • Lex Nelson
  • Dr. SeAnne Safaii-Waite (left) spoke enthusiastically to an all-ages crowd at Boise Brewing on June 7.
"How many of you eat fermented foods every day?" she asked the assembled group of roughly three dozen people, who were packed to standing room on the brewery's second floor. When only a scattering raised their hands, she lifted her beer and added, "If you're drinking a beer, you're getting your dose right now."

That got a laugh from the crowd, but Safaii-Waite was serious, both about eating fermented foods and about all of the other pillars she said lengthen lifespans. Over the last few years, she and her research partner have traveled the world, interviewing pockets of long-lived people in places like Italy and Japan about what they do to stay happy and healthy. In looking for ways to fight diseases that often accompany ageing, Safaii-Waite said she found "all of those [major diseases] can be fought with a knife and fork."

Her advice boiled down to a handful of principals, including these:
  • Eat vegetables at every meal (five or more servings per day)
  • Eat local and seasonal foods as often as possible
  • Eat fermented foods daily
  • Divide your protein intake up over the course of the day
  • Eat 20-30 grams of protein per meal
  • Do high-intensity interval training or another form of exercise regularly
  • Eat anti-inflammatory foods daily (wine counts)
  • Exercise your mind by learning new things
The tips Safaii-Waite got from centenarians around the world varied, from eating soup at every meal to eating only fresh foods. But perhaps the most encouraging advice—and certainly the most Idaho—came from Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter's mother, Regina Otter, who Safaii-Waite interviewed before she passed away in 2016 at the age of 101. Her secret? A daily dose of potatoes and coffee.

Find out more about about Safaii-Waite's research at
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