June 21, 2024
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Nutrition to Keep Us Young at Heart

Dear Jenn,

We are very much enjoying your new wellness and nutrition advice column in The Jewish Link. We are a couple in our 60s who are trying to remain healthy and active. What advice can you give us with respect to exercise and nutrition so that we can continue to lead an active life as we grow older and avoid the pitfalls that often come with aging?

Sincerely,

Young at Heart in Teaneck

Dear Young at Heart in Teaneck,

Thank you for reading my column on health and nutrition. I am glad you are enjoying it! “Middle-age hood” is definitely a time to focus on health and well-being. People are living longer due to medical and technological advancements and, yes, one would like to age gracefully and enjoy longevity in a healthy, active and self-fulfilling way. Note, currently there is research being conducted on the aging process from a cellular perspective in order to better understand biological processes and be able to possibly manipulate them.

There are many practical strategies one can use to stay youthful, healthy and happy. This week’s column will focus on “Nutrition and Dietary Suggestions” but stay tuned to my upcoming “Other Essential Strategies for Healthy Aging,” which will address stress, exercise, mental health, cortisol and other factors involved in aging.

Nutrition Basics

In an effort to be healthy and enjoy longevity, one needs to consider the role of diet. Consuming adequate amounts of essential nutrients provides body cells with the fuel and substances required to function optimally. It is important to consume adequate amounts of carbohydrates for cellular energy release; protein for body maintenance, enzyme production and tissue repair, fat as an alternate energy source, hormonal precursor and enabler of absorption of fat-soluble vitamins; vitamins and minerals to play vital roles in organ function, blood clotting, wound healing, immune function and cellular repair; fiber to add bulk to your diet, make you feel full, prevent constipation and helps weight control; and fluid, as the principle component of the body is water. Water makes up 50-70% of body weight, enables delivery of oxygen and removes waste products.

Complex Carbohydrates. Whole-grain bran, cereals and breads, brown rice and pastas, quinoa, kasha and potatoes. These selections are high in B-vitamins, iron and fiber.

* Recommendation: 4-6 portions daily

Vegetables and Juices. Naturally low in calories, high in nutrients and fiber.

* Recommendation: daily and liberal—enjoy them!

Fruit and Juices. Contain essential nutrients including fruit sugar –“fructose.”

* Recommendation: 2-4 fruit sources/exchanges daily

Protein. Select lean protein, low in saturated fat and cholesterol, such as fish, poultry, tofu and beans. Factors such as exercise, periods of growth, age, injury or illness affect protein requirement.

*Recommendation: for healthy aging 0.8-1.75 grams/kg body weight. Divide desired body weight by 2.2 to get kg of weight. Multiply grams by 4 for protein calories/day.

Dairy. Calcium is important for bones and teeth health. Middle age is a time to think about bone strength and integrity. Osteoporosis is painful, and accidental falls may cause both impaired healing of injuries and mobility. Some dairy products are enriched with vitamin D, a “team player” with calcium. Lactose-free products can also be enriched with calcium.

Select low-fat dairy options.

* Recommendation: 2-3 portions daily. If you have low bone density or osteoporosis, your physician may recommend supplements of calcium and/or vitamin D.

Fat. Select polyunsaturated fat sources such as (plant sources) olive oil, avocado and nuts. Avoid trans fat items (margarine, non-dairy coffee creamer, repackaged fried and baked products), saturated fats items (palm oil, solid shortening, coconut oil/fat) and high-cholesterol items (butter, marbled meat). These latter products are associated with poor health outcomes. Keep in mind: Fat is high in calories.

* Recommendation: 25-30% of diet.

Fiber. Add oats, bran, whole grains, popcorn, nuts, baked potato with skin, apples, citrus fruit, carrots, barley, psyllium (insoluble fiber that promotes movement of material through your digestive tract—helpful for constipation and/or irregular stools—to your daily dietary intake.

* Recommendation: 25-30 g/day, per the American Heart Association

Fluid. There are many opinions as to how much fluid to consume based on climate, activity, pregnancy, exercise, age and overall health. Most adults consume 6-8 cups of fluid daily.

* Recommendation: 15.5 cups/day for males and 11.5 cups/day for females, according to the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Note: With aging, dehydration is more common and the mechanism of thirst declines. As an anti -aging strategy, keep mindful of your fluid intake…are you getting enough?

Anti-Aging Super Foods

These foods are singled out for exceptional value in slowing down the aging process. They contain a high content of nutrients that are important for essential body functions and good health. These “super foods” are rich in vitamins (A, C, E, K, thiamine, riboflavin, folate) and minerals (calcium, potassium, manganese and phosphorus). Eat plenty of watercress, red bell pepper, papaya, blueberries, broccoli, spinach, nuts, avocado, sweet potatoes and pomegranate.

Eating healthy and making an effort to be “selective” in your daily dietary intake cannot be underestimated in the process of aging gracefully. If you are concerned with your aging process and wish to improve the quality and quantity of your life, Nutrition Transformations can help you negotiate middle-age hood with a personalized youth-promoting diet and fitness plan.

You can optimize your aging process. Everyone ages, but how will you age?

Yours in good health, Jenn

Founder of Nutrition Transformations

www.Nu-transform.com 

[email protected]

718-644-1387

*For in-person consultation, full COVID vaccination required.

* If you have a question, please write to me. See website for information to reach me.

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