13 Nutrition and Lifestyle Tips for Healthy Aging
You can’t turn back the clock when it comes to your age. But why is it that some people age in a healthy manner and others don’t fare as well? Is there a secret to healthy aging? Will taking supplements, eating organic, following a vegan diet or drinking wine help? Or maybe you should take Dr. Oz’s “miracle pill” to stop aging? (don’t get me started on that one … ) Unfortunately, as you probably guessed, there is no miracle cure to slow the aging process. But don’t feel it is out of your control. Experts believe 70-80% of aging is environmental/lifestyle and 20-30% genetic. Specifically it is felt that diet determines around 30% of how long we live. So there IS a lot you can do. And it’s never to late to start. Read on to get my healthy tips for aging.
Last weekend, I presented a lecture to ~ 80 seniors from the Union Mutual Foundation in the Poconos. The topic was “13 Nutrition and Lifestyle Tips to Promote Healthy Aging”. In putting together my 13 tips, I looked at eating/lifestyle habits from the oldest and healthiest populations in the world as well as the The MIND diet studies.
Habits of the oldest living populations
If you wanted to learn the secrets of healthy aging, what so you do? Study the habits of the oldest living populations of course! In putting together this presentation, I looked at the following studies:
#1. The New England Centenarian Study
#2. The Australian Centenarian Study
#3. Blue Zone: 5 regions in Europe, Latin America, Asia & U.S.
I’m sure most of you have heard of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. They’ve have been shown to protect against high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.
The Mediterranean diet is one of the most popular and widely researched diet plans of all. It emphasizes vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish, olive oil, and red wine. The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) was developed by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute for treating high blood pressure and revolves around eating whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy while reducing salt intake.
The MIND diet is a fusion of two diets considered to be quite healthy — the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet. The MIND stands for Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay. A research team at Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center set out to combine the best of both diets into one and prove, or disprove, its ability to prevent Alzheimer’s. The study, published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia, looked at more than 900 people between the ages of 58 and 98 who filled out food questionnaires and underwent repeated neurological testing. (pic credit)
It found participants whose diets most closely followed the MIND recommendations had a level of cognitive function the equivalent of a person 7.5 years younger. Alzheimer’s disease decreased by 35 to 53 percent by following the MIND diet.
Meet some of the oldest living people
Curious to know what some of the oldest living people eat?
Jeanne Calment, from France, was the oldest person ever to have lived. She died at age 122. She was a noted chocoholic who doused her food in olive oil, drank red wine daily and ate nearly 2.2 pounds of chocolate a week
Grace Jones of Bermondsey, from Britain’s died at age 113. She is quoted as preferring “good, English food, never anything frozen” and enjoys a glass of sherry with friends from time to time.
Jiroemon Kimura, from near Kyoto, died at the age of 116. He is the oldest man to have lived Kimura recommended porridge, miso soup and vegetables. FYI: Being born a girl helps: 85% of the world’s centenarians are female
Top 12 Diet & Lifestyle Tips for Healthy Aging – Physically and Mentally
- More Vegetables
84% of Americans don’t meet the recommendations of 4 serv. or 2 cups/day
-Provide essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber to help fight chronic diseases, -including stroke and perhaps other cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers
-Aid in gastrointestinal health
-Aid with weight control
-Many vegetables contain prebiotics (substances that feed the good bacteria in our gut)
-Your grandmother was right when she said to eat your vegetables!
- Cut Down on Added Sugar
Why? MANY reasons!
-Provides empty calories and is linked to weight gain
-Increased risk of dying from heart disease
-Raises blood pressure
-Can raise triglycerides (fat in the blood) and blood sugar
-Has a negative effect on brain health
-Sugar increases inflammation in the body which is linked to many diseasesMajor sources: sugar-sweetened beverages (sodas, energy drinks, sports drink) cookies, cakes, pastries, fruit drinks; ice cream, frozen yogurt, candy, and ready-to-eat cereals, granola bars. The average American consumes 22 teaspoons added sugar a day!American Heart Association Recommends:
Women: no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of sugar)
Men: no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar)Other names for added sugar: Agave sugar or nectar, apple juice concentrate, brown sugar, corn syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, maple syrup, raw sugar, table sugar, powered sugar, evaporated cane sugarFancy Coffee Drinks: 8-15 teaspoons (30-60 grams) of added sugar per 16 oz
Regular soda: 8 teaspoons (33 grams) in 12 oz
Sweetened Teas: 12 teaspoons (48 grams) of added sugar in 16 oz.
Instant Flavored Oatmeal: 3 teaspoons (12 grams) of added sugar in 1 packet
Protein Bars: 4 teaspoons (15 grams) of added sugar in 1 bar
Jamba Juice smoothie: 17 teaspoons (67 grams) of sugar in small size
Low fat sweetened yogurt with fruit on the bottom: 4.5 tsp (18 grams) (pic credit)
- More Whole Grains
The benefits of whole grains most documented by repeated studies include:
-Stroke risk reduced 30-36% (pic credit)
-Type 2 diabetes risk reduced 21-30%
-Heart disease risk reduced 25-28%
-Better weight maintenance
Other benefits indicated by recent studies include:
-Reduced risk of asthma
-Healthier carotid arteries
-Reduction of inflammatory disease risk
-Lower risk of colorectal cancer
-Healthier blood pressure level
-Less gum disease and tooth loss
MIND diet recommends 3 servings of whole grains a day
- Go Nuts Over Nuts
-Nuts contain healthy fats, fiber and antioxidants
-Studies have found they can help lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease -Reduce risk of diabetes
-Nuts are an important part of Mediterranean diet and DASH diet
-Nuts make a great snack!
- Increase Intake of Omega 3 Fats
Eat a variety of fish at least twice a week, especially fatty fish containing omega-3 fatty acids (for example, salmon, trout and herring)
-Oily fish are high in omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Consumption of these fatty acids is linked to reduced risk of sudden death and death from coronary artery disease
-Omega 3 fats are also anti-inflammatory
-Plant sources of omega 3 fats include: chia seeds, flaxseeds (ground) and flax oil, walnuts, leafy greens. Chia and flaxseeds are also great sources of fiber
-Talk to your doctor to see if supplements are appropriate for you
- Limit Consumption of Red Meat
-Red meat is linked to increased rates of heart disease and some forms of cancer
-Mediterranean diet restricts red meat to just one serving a week
-Centenarians eat meat in small quantities
-Select lean cuts of meat, moderate portions, grass fed if possible
-Avoid/limit processed luncheon meats as they are linked to cancer and heart disease
- Get Plenty of Sleep … naps are good too!
-Goal: 7-9 hrs/night according to National Sleep Foundation
-Inadequate sleep can increase risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes, mood disorders
-Inadequate sleep suppresses the immune system
-Studies suggest inadequate sleep may accelerate aging of brain
-Lack of sleep impacts memory and cognitive performance
– Naps can improve memory and may help heart by keeping stress hormones down
- Exercise on a Regular Basis
Staying active is a vital part of aging well. Benefits include
-Slows loss of muscle mass
-Decreases risk of heart disease and keeps heart strong
-Lowers cholesterol and blood pressure
-Decreases risk of diabetes and lower blood sugar
-Improves mood and mental health
-Aids in weight management
-Eases joint pain with arthritis
-Improves memory, stimulate the brain’s ability to maintain old network connections and make new ones
-May play a role in reducing risk for Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline
We lose muscle as we age:
After reaching a peak in early adult years, skeletal muscle mass declines by 0.5-2% beginning at about 40 yr of age
The average woman can lose 23 percent of her muscle mass between ages of 30 and 70
Loss of muscle mass and strength (sarcopenia) is a serious problem among older populations
1/3 of women and ½ of men older than 60, have sarcopenia in the U.S.
Advanced sarcopenia is associated with physical frailty, increased likelihood of falls and impairment in the ability to perform routine activities of daily living
- Eat Adequate Protein
-Consuming adequate protein helps to slow loss of muscle that occurs with aging
-Protein is best utilized if it is spaced out throughout the day at several meals versus “bottom loading” it at dinner and minimal intake during the day
-Good protein sources include: fish, poultry, lean meat (organic grass fed if possible!), tofu, tempeh, seitan, beans and legumes, eggs, yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, nuts and nut butters, milk, protein shakes
I recommend 30 gm+ protein at lunch and dinner and at least 10-15 gm at breakfast. Ideally your body needs 30 gm+ per “feeding” to preserve muscle mass-Not only do older people progressively lose muscle as they age but also their physiology resists building new muscle
-Seniors have higher protein needs than younger
people. Protein needs for seniors needs are: 1 gm/kg (average), 1.2 gm/kg (physically active), 1.5 gm/kg(lifting weights). This is higher than RDA
For more info on protein needs in seniors – source
- Socialize with Family and Friends … and pick healthy friends!
- Stress Management
- Find a Passion
What are YOUR secrets to Healthy Aging?
Check out my 80 year old client, Ann, from NYC in her leather leggings!
I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.