Much time and money is spent each year on the latest weight loss or fitness craze in pursuit of a path to the fountain of youth. Unfortunately, for most this ends in frustration and a lighter wallet. Rather than chasing an elusive perfect diet, nutritional supplement or fitness routine that sounds too good to be true why not get back to the basics of eating healthy and increasing physical activity.
We all want to enjoy the best quality of life for as long as possible! When your health is compromised so is your quality of life. Without question, a significant percentage of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and even certain cancers can be prevented by eliminating the three risk factors of a poor diet, inactivity and smoking.
No matter your age, it is never too late to change course and improve your health. Choose one or two behaviors and gradually build on these. Placing emphasis on nutrient-dense foods is a good place to start. Nutrient dense foods are lower in calories, yet good sources of nutrients. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, lower fat dairy and healthy fats are examples of nutrient dense foods. Eating a diet from a variety of nutrient dense foods assures adequate nutrient intake.
It is also beneficial to limit solid fats such as lard and butter and replace with healthier fat choices like olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and avocados. Don't forget to include seafood a couple of times a week, especially albacore tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring, and sardines which are fatty fish rich in omeg-3 fatty acids.
So, simply put instead of chasing the latest health and fitness fads, look no further than your own kitchen and lace up your sneakers. There is not a "one diet fits all" or one fitness routine scenario; however, the following are foundations for a healthy lifestyle that improves your chances of healthy aging:
Eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables
- Chopped veggies can be a great addition to omelets, soups, salads, and casseroles
- Enjoy fresh veggies and fruits with your favorite dips
- Add more flavor to smoothies and yogurt parfaits with extra fruit
Choose healthy protein sources
- Seafood, lean poultry and meats, eggs, beans and unsalted nuts
- Remember to avoid frying which will add unwanted calories
Make at least half of your grains whole grains
- Whole grain breads, cereals, rice and pasta
- Look for a whole grain such as whole grain oats or whole wheat as the first ingredient listed
- Reach for water as your first choice for a beverage
- Avoid sweetened beverages
- Round out beverage selections with unsweetened coffee, tea or fat free milk
Limit foods with added sugars and fats
- Treats like cakes, cookies, pies, chips, etc. are meant for occasional indulgences, not daily treats
- Specialty coffee drinks are sources of added sugar and fats
- Staying physically active is one of the biggest predictors for maintaining independence as you age
- Always check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program
- If not physically active, start small and work toward 150 minutes of physical activity each week
Maintain a healthy weight
- Extra weight increases the risk for developing chronic diseases
- Refer to a body mass index chart to determine your healthy weight range
- If overweight, try cutting out about 500 calories from your usual intake each day and increase physical activity for a gradual weight reduction
Don't Smoke or Abuse Alcohol
- If your smoke, ask your health care provider for smoking cessation help
- Drink only in moderation, which is no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks daily for men