Target Ten Eating-for-health Tips

Eating-for-health will, for most of us, require a change of lifestyle. We should to develop healthy eating habits at every meal. This is not about increasing our longevity that is up to God. This is about having a quality of life for our entire life. If it is God’s will for us to live to 100 or more, the goal should be to stay healthy and independent for the entire span of our life.

Many of us who are middle age or older feel that it is too late to start so why change our lifestyle now. Why not just eat and do what we want and live out what life we have left. What we all should consider is that most will not be lucky enough to just die in our sleep or suddenly in a car accident.

A lot of good people will not be spared the pain and suffering of age. Many will live to experience a debilitating, chronic disease that leaves us unable to perform the basic activities of daily living such as eating or going to the bathroom. We may suffer a series of health crises, such as multiple heart attacks, or we may suffer from a stroke that leaves us paralyzed and unable to speak. Or we may be crippled by diabetes or diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s dementia.

There are no guarantees in life but for most of us life doesn’t have to end this way. Moses was 120 years old when he died but the Bible says that "his eye was not dim, nor his vigor abated." Deuteronomy 34:7. Whether we live to be 120 or 60, the goal should be to live a healthy, happy life every day of our life. Exercise and eating-for-health can help us achieve this goal.

I have managed continuing care retirement communities and nursing homes for more than thirty-five years. I have seen nursing home residents junior to me in chronological age who were totally dependent on others for all their biological functions. Some suffered from conditions that were just bad luck or the result of accident but many could have been prevented or mitigated by an earlier change in lifestyle including eating-for-health.

Lifestyle change can make difference

On the other hand, residents entering the independent living apartments had an opportunity for an almost immediate improvement in their lifestyle including eating-for-health. Many came from a sedentary life with poor nutrition to one of optional structured physical activity, social interaction, and more balanced nutrition. The change in lifestyle enabled them to live independently for a longer time and many avoided the nursing home altogether.

Extensive scientific studies on nutrition and nutritional supplementation have demonstrated that many disorders associated with aging can be avoided, or at least significantly reduced, by following simple nutritional guidelines and avoiding behaviors that increase our risk. The earlier such programs are begun, the more effective they are. A program of good health will reduce disease and complications of disease at any age. One behavior that dramatically increases our risk is smoking. Please don’t smoke. People who smoke live shorter and sicker lives.

Eating-for-health is a key to living a healthy, happy life every day of our life. A good healthy diet includes eating a lot of whole grains, fresh fruits (whole fruit, not fruit juice), and fresh vegetables. Many raw vegetables have enzymes that help boost energy levels. Frozen vegetables are quick frozen soon after picking and retain most of their nutrients. They can even be better than fresh vegetables. Also avoid canned vegetables.

Good fresh fruits and some vegetables are hard to find. Apples and tomatoes for example are often hard and woody. Peaches often go right from green to decay. My wife and I shop for fruits and vegetables at a farmers market rather than at the grocery store. We find that they are usually better quality and less expensive.

Bolster eating-for-health by using selected nutritional supplements. They are necessary to ensure that we obtain the necessary nutrients. Your dietary plan including nutritional supplements should be discussed with your physician at every visit. Nutritional supplements do not cure or prevent illness and disease.  They only give the body the extra nutrition it needs to take care of itself!  A healthy lifestyle starts with good nutrition.

Ten Eating-for-health Tips

  1. Eat more seafood, especially wild Alaskan salmon. Avoid large fish such as swordfish, marlin, and shark because Mercury and PCBs are more likely to be found in them. Fish, high in omega-3 fats have been shown to protect against irregular heart rhythms than can lead to heart failure. New evidence suggests that in addition to heart protection, the fatty acids such as DHA and EPA found in fish oil (and ALA found in flaxseed) may offer a defense against depression and age-related memory loss. Avoid farm raised fish that may contain pesticides and other toxic chemicals.
  2. Eat less animal based foods. Since protein is increasingly important to maintain muscle mass as we grow older, a limited amount (4 oz. per day) of lean, organic, grass fed beef is ok. Other sources of protein are organic chicken, fish, beans and lentils, eggs (one per day), Greek yogurt, and nuts especially walnuts, almonds or Brazil nuts.
  3. Eat more berries especially blueberries. Research suggests that foods especially high in antioxidants such blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and walnuts protect against age-related changes in the brain that lead to memory loss and even dementia.
  4. Eat more dark green vegetables such as broccoli and spinach for heart and brain health. Greens are a rich source of vitamins A, B, C, E and K.
  5. Avoid eating excess salt. Most foods already contain salt, adding more salt exposes you to a greater risk. Researchers have known for years that less salt in the diet means lower blood pressure. Now new evidence suggests that keeping blood pressure down may also protect brain cells and decrease the risk of age-related memory loss and even dementia.
  6. Eat more flax and olive oils. Avoid partially hydrogenated oils, corn oil, cottonseed oil, palm kernel oil, sunflower oil and soybean oil. Avoid toxic food additives such as aspartame and MSG. Be a label reader. If you don't understand the label don't buy the product.
  7. Eat whole grains and avoid bleached white flour. Whole grains pack a lot of nutrition into a low-calorie package. Grains like oats and barley are also rich in a long list of disease-fighting compounds. Whole grains protect against type 2 diabetes, a disease that in turn increases the danger of heart disease.
  8. Eat less and more often. Avoid over eating. If you finish a meal totally satisfied you have probably eaten too much.
  9. Other nutrient rich foods include: Nuts, oatmeal, flaxseed meal, avocados, tomatoes, tofu, garlic, beans and lentils. Make your snack foods walnuts or carrot sticks.
  10. Avoid processed foods and foods containing preservatives and nitrates. Any commercially prepared and packaged food is suspect. Many contain way too much salt and chemical additives including MSG with all of its aliases.

For references and suggested reading go to retirement resources.

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In the end it's not the years in your life that count but the life in your years. Abraham  Lincoln

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