What we put in our bodies is just as important as how much we exercise.
What is a Super Food?
“Super Foods” by my definition are foods that can and do provide some of the same health benefits and life enhancing attributes as some of the drugs that are on the market with none of the possible side effects or costs.
I don’t like taking meds. Don’t misunderstand me, I will take drugs if I have to but my feeling is that a lot of the time taking medication is like crisis management. I think that the right nutrition combined with staying active and getting a balance of cardio and resistance exercise can keep this over 50 body of mine in fine form for many years to come.
It seems that famed nutritionist Elizabeth Somer, editor in chief of Nutrition Alert and frequent guest on NBC’s Today show agrees. Ms Somer the author of such books as Age-Proof Your Body: Your Complete Guide to Looking and Feeling Youngerand Eat Your Way to Happiness: 10 Diet Secrets to Improve Your Mood, Curb Your Cravings, Keep the Pounds Off , claims that fifty – seventy percent of our suffering can be eliminated if we become more aware of what we eat and how we move.
In the WebMD article Superfoods Everyone Needs Ms. Somer offers a list of 14 foods that should be on everyone’s shopping list but especially on the list of those of us over 50 because the foods are proven to fight heart disease, cancer, and high cholesterol. These foods are packed with antioxidants, omega 3’s, phytoflavinoids, potassium, sterols and fiber. All nutrients that ward off the ravages of aging.
Cover of Bill Clinton
Former President Bill Clinton who’s well known and documented love of things fried and fatty (no offense intended Monica) had literally turned over a new “leaf”.
Mr. Clinton in an interview with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta says that he has eliminated eggs, dairy and meat from his diet and now ” I like the vegetables, the fruits, the beans, the stuff I eat”
Since leaving the White house the president has lost more than 20 pounds but unbeknownst to him at first his health issues were more serious than just being over weight. He was genetically predisposed to heart disease and his old ways of eating what ever he wanted was about to kill him.
Less than 4 years after leaving office he complained about tightness in his chest and had to undergo quadruple bypass surgery to restore blood flow to his heart. In 2010 he had another operation to install 2 stents.
Since then the ex-president has been working with Dr. Dean Ornish, who had created a diet and lifestyle that he claims can actually reverse heart disease.
Dr Ornish is well known in the medical community because prior to his findings it was thought impossible to reverse heart disease without doing a medical procedure.
Says Mr. Clinton, “All my blood tests are good, and my vital signs are good, and I feel good, and I also have, believe it or not, more energy,”
From omnivore to vegan: The dietary education of Bill Clinton – CNN.com.
Image via Wikipedia
Should you eat before or after a workout?
Generally speaking most experts on exercise and nutrition say that it’s a matter of personal preference as long as you eat something within a one hour window either before or after your workout routine. I know some people that become nauseous and feel ill if they try to eat before going to the gym and I know just as many people that feel light headed and weak if they don’t. But if you’re over fifty I think it’s beneficial to eat a little something before exercise and not doing so consistently may even be counter productive to achieving your fitness goals.
How the body uses fats and carbs and protiens during exercise
During exercise the body normally uses a combination of fats and carbohydrates for fuel. The ratio of this mixture varies with the intensity of the workout. Carbohydrates provide a quick source of energy and therefore while moderate to intense exercise burns more carbs than fat you must also be aware that moderate to intense exercise also burns more calories in the same amount of time as a low intensity workout would.
The body usually burns very little or no protein during exercise, protein is not a good source of quick energy. It is only during really strenuous workouts that the body may turn to protein as an energy source – or when the needed carbohydrates and fats are depleted.
Protein – The key to avoiding muscle loss over 50
In a previous article I wrote about the importance of resistance training over 50 in combating sarcopenia or muscle loss that is a natural part of aging. I explained how after the age of 40 most of us will experience a slow but definite decrease of muscle tissue in our bodies that will only accelerate over time and make us feel and look old.
In addition to resistance training we can also fight this with proper nutrition. One of the most important nutrients in this battle is protein. I’m sure you’ve heard it before “proteins are the building blocks of muscle”
Since proteins are so important for building and maintaining muscle tissue that is so critical to keep a youthful appearance it is necessary that we guard against burning these proteins as much as possible while we exercise, more so than when we were younger and still able to build and maintain muscle easily.
Fueling up before exercise helps prevents loss of protein and muscle
A snack an hour or so before your workout should provide you plenty of energy to fuel your exercise routine without the danger of burning muscle. If you’re following most of the fitness experts suggestions and eating 5 or 6 small meals a day instead of the traditional 3 big meals than your’re probably never on “empty” and should be ready to workout any time during the day. I normally exercise in the morning within an hour after I awake and have found the liquid protein shakes to be the thing for me. Since they’re liquid they deliver energy within 20 or 30 minutes and they not only give me the needed carbs to fuel my workout but provide a little extra protein to my diet to help me recoup after the routine.
High Fiber intake reduces death risk by 23 percent.
A scientific analysis of a nine year study conducted by the National Institutes of Health and AARP has found a meaningful link between high fiber intake and longevity.
The analysis studied the results of over 400,000 people over fifty. The participants between 50 and 71 years old had fiber intake that ranged from 12.6 to 29.4 grams per day in men and from 10.8 to 25.8 grams per day in women.
The average dietary fiber for most Americans is about 12 grams a day, current US dietary guidelines recommend 28 grams for the average person eating a 2,000 calorie a day diet. This would suggest that the people in this study of people over 50 with the highest fiber intake are simply in line with the recommendations. The study excluded people with extremely high fiber intake.
Men with the highest fiber intakes had a 23% reduction in the risk of dying while women experienced a 10% reduction when compared to those eating the least amount of fiber.
It’s important to point out that the greatest benefits came from particular sources of fiber, whole grains and beans. While vegetable fiber had a small impact on longevity fruits showed no effect at all.
Fiber is a Natural Anti-Inflammatory
Most researchers believe that the anti-inflammatory effects of eating more fiber is possibly part of the reason for lower numbers in cardiovascular, respiratory, and infectious disease death.
How much salt is too much?
It’s well known that too much salt isn’t good for you but how much salt is too much? The Government guidelines are about 2300 mg for younger adults and 1500 mg for those of us over 50. That’s only about 2/3 of a teaspoon. Removing the salt shaker is a good start to reducing your salt intake but did you know that up to 80% of your salt intake may come from processed foods?
How does salt affect aging?
High sodium consumption affects all age groups but due to other health risk that accompany the aging process the dangers of salt are more pronounced in people over fifty and others with salt sensitivities. Sodium can elevate the blood pressure, contribute to bone brittleness and raises the risk of stroke, kidney disease, diabetes, heart disease and cataracts.
How to Cut back on Salt
As I mentioned up to 80% of your salt intake is from processed foods. Most Americans eat 3,500mg to 4,500mg a day, thats 2 to 3 times the recommended consumption for people over 50.
Start your reduction at the super market. Read the labels, the sodium content is required by law to be posted on the packaging. Compare brands. I know this can be somewhat time consuming at first but after a while you’ll know what brands contain the lowest sodium level. Canned veggies and tuna are packed in a sodium rich solution as a preservative, rinse the veggies or tuna before heating or eating to remove some of the salt.
Eliminate or reduce eating processed foods like cold cuts, hot dogs, and processed cheese. These are VERY high in sodium content.
Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables that are naturally low in sodium.
Drink plenty of water. Water helps flush excess salt out of the body.
One study found that lowering the amount of salt 5 grams a day (about one teaspoon) was associated with a 23% lower stroke rate and up to 17% less total cardiovascular disease. They went on to say that cutting normal salt intake in half “could avert some 1.25 million deaths from stroke and almost three million deaths from cardiovascular disease worldwide.”
Dr Oz identified the 5 health concerns that are of most concern to women over 50. Their responses were;
The doctor then went on to recommend a nutritional supplement to help alleviate each of these.
For optimal bone health Dr Oz recommends Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D.
Chronic Disease can be prevented with simple Multi Vitamins. Of course there are many reasons for chronic disease but these vitamins may help with many heart, bone and cancer problems. One multi vitamin a day with less than 2500 units of iron and Vitamin A is all you need.
For loss of energy in women over 50 he suggested 200 mg a day of Co Enzyme Q10. Co Enzyme Q10 aids the mitochondria which is the power house of the body that provides the fuel we use all day.
For weight loss he says take about 15 grams of chia seeds daily. An excellent source of fiber that you can sprinkle on almost anything that’ll help give you that “full” feeling thus fending off over eating.
Turmeric is his recommendation to ward off Alzheimer’s Disease. The science is still not clear on why Turmeric is so effective in fighting Alzheimer’s but it is. It has something to do with preventing the build up on the neurons of the brain that is associated with the disease. Turmeric is widely used in India and it is believe to be the reason that they have such a low instance of Alzheimer’s. He suggests a half teaspoon a day.