Good Nutrition and Healthy Aging

Good nutrition is important for people of all ages, but it’s especially important for those of us over the age of 50 who have a goal of healthy aging. We can improve our quality of life by eating a well-balanced diet filled with vitamins and nutrients. Though that may seem like common sense, research has shown that those in this age group, who are often referred to as “baby boomers,” may not be as healthy as they may think.

While the baby boomer generation, which is generally regarded as those born between 1946 and 1964, boasts longer life expectancies than any generation that came before them, some of that can likely be chalked up to advancements in medical care, including a booming pharmaceutical industry. But a 2013 study from researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine found that baby boomers are more likely to have higher levels of hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. While that might sound like bad news, it’s never too late for those over 50 to start eating healthier diets, which can reduce their risk of a wide range of ailments, including heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis.

The following 5 tips are just a few ways men and women over 50 can alter their diets so their bodies are getting what they need to live long and healthy lives well into their golden years.

• Eat a healthy balanced diet

Kids hear of the benefits of a healthy balanced diet seemingly from the moment they enter a classroom for the first time, but many adults fail to heed that basic advice as they get further and further away from kindergarten. When changing your diet, be sure to include plenty of high quality protein and complex carbohydrates. Protein maintains and rebuilds muscles, which is especially important for aging men and women who might find themselves unable to keep up with the physical demands of everyday life as well as they used to. Including ample low-fat protein, which can be found in fish, eggs and low-fat dairy among other foods, will aid in muscle recovery, benefitting aging athletes as well as those men and women over 50 who recently started exercising as a means to regaining their physical fitness. A diet lacking in sufficient protein can contribute to muscle deterioration, arthritis and even organ failure, so it’s important for us baby boomers to include protein in our diets. Complex carbohydrates are also an important part of a balanced diet, as they are a great source of energy that can help people stay active well past the age of 50. Complex carbohydrates found in fruits, grains and vegetables are the most beneficial, as these contain valuable vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

• Cut back on sodium intake.

Cutting back on sodium intake can be very beneficial, especially for those over the age of 50, who are at greater risk of diabetes, hypertension and chronic kidney disease. But cutting back on sodium intake takes more than just throwing the salt shaker away. Processed foods, soups, canned goods, salad dressings, condiments such as mustard and ketchup, and breakfast cereals are just a few of the many products that may contain alarming amounts of sodium. That’s important to note, as excess sodium increases blood pressure by holding excess fluid in the body. That excess fluid puts an added burden on the heart, potentially increasing a person’s risk of stroke, heart failure, osteoporosis, cancer, and kidney disease. The problem with cutting back on sodium is that salt is so often relied on to make foods taste better, and many people find salt-free foods bland. But the rewards of reducing sodium intake are so significant that it’s worth making the adjustment, especially for those over the age of 50.

No one is too old or too young to embrace a nutritious diet. But everyone over the age of 50 is in a unique position to vastly improve their quality of life by adopting a low-sodium diet that is rich in vitamins and minerals. Get accustomed to reading labels and cut back or eliminate processed foods.

• Take your Vitamins and Minerals

I am a huge and long-time proponent of vitamins. I have clearly seen the positive effects on my own health and on the health of others. The majority of Americans don’t get enough of the nutrients that are essential for lifelong health, according to the latest national survey research, and that includes those over 50.

The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009–2010 give a grim picture of Americans’ health. According to the survey data, nearly the entire U.S. population is at risk of vitamin and mineral inadequacy, which is associated with increased risk of chronic disease.

Food that is lacking in nutrients because of processing and poor agricultural practices contributes to these inadequacies. Inadequate nutrient intakes are shocking in a country that currently also faces an epidemic of overeating and obesity, which can lead to greater requirements for vitamins and minerals.

Top the statistics off with the knowledge that there still exists considerable debate over whether or not current Dietary Reference Intake (DRIs) is high enough for optimal nourishment. For example, several nutrition researchers have called for raising the DRI for vitamin C, E, and D. While the current dosages are set to prevent deficiency and the associated diseases, significant health benefits may be gained by increasing intakes. Also, age and genetics can sometimes predispose specific populations for increased need of certain vitamins and minerals for healthy metabolism and cellular function.

Those people who understand that not getting enough essential nutrients can put their health at risk turn to use of supplements. Of more than half of Americans who used dietary supplements from 2003-2006, nearly 40 percent reported using multivitamin/minerals. Clearly, supplements are a convenient and useful tool for easily obtaining optimal doses of nutrients to complement diet and to meet DRIs. But some media reports would have us believe otherwise; that taking a multivitamin produces little benefit. However, many of these reports tend to “cherry pick” single studies with questionable endpoints, downplay other more meaningful studies, and contradict the findings of the totality of the scientific literature.

After reviewing the entire span of epidemiology and randomized controlled trials, the larger picture indicates that vitamin and mineral supplements, that combine therapeutic dosages, quality forms, and are designed to ensure absorption and bioavailability, are entirely safe and support overall health.

• Join the Detox bandwagon

After learning about the benefits of cleansing, I highly recommend doing a cellular cleanse. I have done this a number of times with great success. Detoxification is essential for ridding the body of toxins and preventing their “health robbing” effects. Although all cells have the ability to detoxify toxins, the most important organ for detoxification is the liver–known as the body’s filter and purification system. That’s why it needs to be a cellular cleanse…not a colon cleanse!

Toxins enter the liver as either water or fat-soluble molecules. Water-soluble toxins are rather easily metabolized and excreted into the urine. In contrast, fat-soluble toxins can be stored in fat cells where they are protected from the body’s detoxification systems. This is often found in older men as what’s called the “beer belly.” That is the dangerous fat.
Excess fat stores, especially organ-bathing visceral fat, are linked to several diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and metabolic dysfunction. The addition of toxin exposure to an overweight or obese individual may only serve to increase these risks.

To ensure optimal functioning of our detoxification systems it is essential to have an adequate dietary intake of vitamins (B vitamins, vitamins C, and E), minerals (selenium, zinc, copper), and other bioactive nutrients such as coenzyme Q10 and polyphenols. These nutrients bolster our detoxification defenses or by providing antioxidant support. Nutritional support is essential in the detoxification process because some toxins are produced as the result of free radicals. Additionally, nutritional support is needed to counteract the oxidative damage caused by toxins.

Also, the reduction of fat mass, the primary target for toxin storage, stimulates the release of toxins into the circulation. Once in the bloodstream toxins are more easily metabolized and excreted from the body and when the body has the additional nutritional support of amino acids, vitamins, polyphenols, and other bioactive ingredients, the detoxification enzymes can perform at peak function. And, when you are done with your detox/cleanse, let me tell you how great you will feel. It can also aid in weight loss.

• Protect and Support Your telomeres

I bet you are asking yourself “what the heck is a telomere?” The basic science is this. A telomere is the protective tip at the end of the paired strands of DNA. They are sort of like the plastic caps on the end of a shoe lace. The telomere is a repetitive segment of DNA at the ends of all chromosomes that helps to keep the structure of the chromosomes intact, thus protecting the genes that make up our genomes. Telomerase is an enzyme that synthesizes the specific DNA sequences of telomeres. Research has found that aging is taking place in the telomeres and as they become shorter over time, we deteriorate and age. Does that mean that scientists have found the “fountain of youth?” Well, to a degree, the answer is yes! The facts are that the scientific literature on telomeres and their influence in aging is as exciting and promising as it sounds, even leading to the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 being awarded for telomere research. What does this mean to us? It has profound implications on cell longevity, disease states, gene mutations, cancer, immune function, and our overall wellbeing in life.

If we had the genes to live to be 100 years old, but poison our bodies with toxins, then obviously the external forces acting upon our cells would hasten their death. Smoking, cardiovascular disease from improper diet, all alter our inherent genetic cell longevity. It is when the telomere becomes damaged or shortened that our DNA is at risk to damage.

A recent long-term study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that individuals with long telomeres were less likely to develop disease states and cancer, while individuals with shorter telomeres had a much greater incidence of disease development and cancer. Evidence continues to mount showing that diet and lifestyle does greatly influence the speed of telomere shortening with age. Other behaviors that can help preserve telomeres are managing stress and maintaining a healthy weight. Regular exercise is associated with telomere length, as is receiving optimal dosages of vitamins, minerals, and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. The nutrients are all needed, acting in concert, to maintain DNA and telomere integrity with age. Evidence continues to mount showing that diet and lifestyle does greatly influence the speed of telomere shortening with age. At a time when baby boomers are reaching retirement age, many are looking for “Youthful Aging” or what I like to call it; “Healthy Aging.” Companies are investing heavily in telomere research and developing products that allow its customers to age more gracefully.

I was rather lengthy today in sharing these tips because they are vitally important to healthy aging. If you want to know more about using the highest quality supplements, doing a successful, easy and healthy detox/cleanse and how to protect your telomeres with a state-of-the art scientifically formulated telomere support supplement, please feel free to contact me.

With Positive Thoughts,

“Take care of your body; it’s the only place you have to live.” ~Jim Rohn

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” ~Betty Friedan