It’s the week after Thanksgiving, and it looks like we all survived! Hopefully you had a chance to keep moving during these past busy days, and are now getting back to your “normal” eating habits.
Baby Boomers and older adults tend to concentrate on healthful eating as a way to lose (or maintain) their weight. But there are countless other wellness reasons to help motivate you to consume a healthy diet.
Here are three benefits of eating a varied, nutrient-dense diet that have absolutely nothing to do with your bathroom scale!
Reduced incidence of chronic disease
Diet can help prevent or control osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and possibly even Alzheimer’s disease. Years of research have shown that a plant-based diet, low in sugar and processed foods, is associated with lower incidence of chronic diseases often associated with aging. Nuts are getting a lot of positive notoriety lately, as they contain healthy fats and can help lower cholesterol. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains have phytochemicals and dietary fiber that are protective in many conditions.
In fact, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Gerontology followed more than 1,600 adults, aged forty-nine and over, for ten years. The researchers were studying successful aging, defined as “absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms, and chronic diseases (eg, cancer and coronary artery disease).” Of all the variables they followed, researchers found a high-fiber diet led to the highest chance of “reaching old age disease free and fully functional.”
Increased life span
A plant-based, Mediterranean-type diet can actually help you live longer. This diet emphasizes fruits, veggies, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, olive oil, and flavorful herbs and spices; fish and seafood at least a couple of times a week; and poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation. Sweets and red meat are eaten only occasionally, along with moderate amounts of red wine. This diet has been around for decades, and recently researchers discovered the program helps slow down the aging process by protecting chromosomes.
A similar eating style has been identified in the Blue Zones, areas where people tend to live the longest. These centenarians consume primarily a plant-based diet limited in added sodium, sugar, and processed foods.
Sometimes this can be so elusive, but when you can finally fall asleep at a decent hour and stay asleep, it’s like a small miracle!
Here are a few ways foods affect your ability to sleep:
- Caffeine—Caffeine is a stimulant that works by blocking the action of hormones in the brain that make us feel sleepy. This chemical can have a negative effect for many people. If you’re in this group, avoid caffeine-containing foods from the late afternoon on.
- Alcohol—While many people fall asleep after a few drinks, alcohol actually keeps you from entering deeper stages of sleep, robbing you of an adequate night’s rest. It’s best consumed earlier in the day.
- The tryptophan effect—Tryptophan is an amino acid that causes sleepiness. A combination carb-protein snack is a great nighttime treat because carbohydrates make tryptophan more available to the brain, while protein foods are building blocks for tryptophan. Examples of these snacks would be: cereal with milk, peanut butter on whole-grain bread.
For more ideas about eating to stay healthy, give me a call!
We can discuss some practical tips and discover if any of my programs or classes are a good fit for you.
If you’d like to schedule that call with me, just CLICK THIS LINK, and let me know in the message that you would like a 1-on-1 call with me right away and I will be in touch to schedule that—oh, and leave me your phone number in there too since email is not as reliable as it used to be! Thanks.
Lisa Teresi Harris is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Personal Trainer, and author of the book Building Your Enduring Fitness. A certified Geri-Fit Instructor, she helps Boomers and seniors to regain and keep muscle strength, mobility, and energy.
Contact Lisa to inquire about a customized, in-home fitness program for you or a loved one.