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Health & Wellness

GetOld's Best Nutrition Advice

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Over the past six years, GetOld has shared a wealth of nutrition advice. Here, served up on a single platter, is the bottom line on what we’ve learned.

Healthy eating is not just about your waistline. Smart food choices support every element of vibrant aging, including protecting your heart, helping maintain strong bones, and reducing your risk of cognitive decline. Good eating habits may also help boost memory and help you get a sound night’s sleep.

Color is the key to a well-balanced diet. The hues of fruits and vegetables signal the phytonutrients and phytochemicals that they contain. Orange vegetables like sweet potatoes and carrots are rich in beta-carotene while leafy greens are a good source of vitamins A, K, folate, and more. Red tomatoes deliver lycopene. Purple and blue foods like blueberries and eggplant are loaded with antioxidants. But you don’t have to memorize a color wheel. If your plate resembles a rainbow, you’re likely getting the entire range of nutrients you need.

Small dietary changes may have the biggest impact. Trying the latest fad diet, especially one that means cutting out an entire food group, is unlikely to lead to healthy eating habits that last. Instead, experts recommend well-informed, incremental changes. For example, swap white bread and rice for whole-wheat bread, brown rice, and grains like barley and quinoa. Make a ribeye steak an occasional treat while lean proteins are everyday staples. Snack on an apple instead of a candy bar. If you eat meat at every meal, experiment with more plant-based dishes. A good way to start is by embracing “Meatless Monday”; search that phrase on the web for inspiring ideas and easy recipes. 

Fiber is your friend. Experts believe consuming a fiber-rich diet bestows a wealth of health benefits, including reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and colon cancer, helping you avoid constipation, and reducing pain associated with arthritis. And because fiber helps us feel fuller longer, it can be a powerful tool in achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. Most of us aren’t getting enough fiber, so we would all do well to trade processed foods for more fruits and vegetables, whole-grain products, and beans, peas, and other legumes.  

Focus less on what you’re giving up to improve your diet and more on what new foods you’re adding. Yes, if you want to make your diet healthier, it’s important to cut down on processed foods, sugary snacks, fatty meats, and foods from the supermarket shelves – including canned soups – that are loaded with salt. But why not flip your perspective to a positive one? If you haven’t changed your eating habits in a while, there are lots of discoveries to be made. New grains like farro and freekeh are widely available. There are convenient ways to add more whole foods into your diet, like exciting new packaged salads in the produce aisle, new kinds of frozen vegetables in the frozen food section, a dazzling variety of low-fat yogurts, cheeses, and milk products in the dairy section, and easy-to-prepare lean-protein options at the butcher and fish counters.

How and when you eat can be as important as what you eat. Research into the habits of people who live in so-called Blue Zones, regions of the world where the life expectancy is far above average, shows some clear patterns when it comes to eating. Blue Zone residents tend to eat larger meals earlier in the day and a lighter meal in the evening, and they enjoy lots of communal meals with friends and family. 

Wherever we live, we can all adapt these lessons from the Blue Zones into our own lives.  For example, some experts recommend maintaining a 12-hour fast every day. That means eating your last bite of the night at, say, 7 or 8 p.m. and your first bite of the morning at 7 or 8 a.m. This not only eliminates mindless snacking on sugary or salty foods while we watch TV in the evening, it may also help minimize the symptoms of acid reflux, heartburn, and indigestion. And even if you’re eating solo, you can slow down to savor each bite, paying attention to flavor and texture, rather than wolfing down your meal.

 

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