Happy, Healthy Aging…Part 3

Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Guest Blogger, Natural Aging, Nutrition | 0 comments


By Maureen McDonnell, RN 

“Aging”, as Betty Davis once said “is not for sissies”, and I agree.  Healthy, happy aging is not about looking 40 when you are 60 or 60 when you’re 80.  It’s more about applying common sense strategies in order to stay sharp, minimize one’s chances for developing heart disease and cancer and doing what we can to keep our bones and immune system strong.  More importantly, it’s about feeling vital, having fun and enjoying life!  Contrary to what most of us have been conditioned to believe, now more than ever, healthy aging is a real possibility!

So, while we practice positive thinking and calming our minds, we also need to remember to take our vitamins and eat our colorful veggies.

Tip #3 for Healthy Aging:

Whole Foods and Supplements

  • Eating a high quality plant-based diet that contains 4-5 cups of organic vegetables and fruit per day as well as lean organic protein sources (eggs, cold water salmon, chicken, soaked nuts and seeds, grass fed beef etc) provides our bodies with the nutrient support and antioxidants necessary for optimal health and longevity. Europeans spend 16% of their income on food and have much lower incidences of chronic illness as they age.  In the US, where up to 60% of the population suffers from one or more chronic illness, we spend 6% of our income on food.  Investing in a nutritious diet is one of the wisest ways to spend our money and protect our health.  Eat well to age well! (3)
  • Water: Consume plenty (6-8 glasses) of pure water (improve your health and save money by getting a good water filter and drink from stainless steel or glass bottles instead of plastic).
  • Intestinal Health: “the road to good health is paved with good intestines”… Consider
    • Taking in adequate fiber. Good sources are: ground organic flax seed, soaked nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds), fresh veggies, whole fruit etc.
    • Adding a high-potency probiotic (which is a source of good friendly bacteria that keeps our intestines healthy, keeps the bad pathogenic organisms at bay and creates B vitamins).  It is also critical to have a good bowel movement at least once, preferably twice per day.
    • Digestive enzymes contained in food are destroyed when food is heated beyond 118 degrees. Additionally, our body’s production of digestive enzymes declines as we age.  To minimize digestive issues such as gas and bloating, its important to sit and relax when eating, chew food well, not consume liquids with a meal and consider taking a high quality digestive enzyme to assist in the breakdown and absorption of nutrients.
    • Fats are a concentrated source of energy, necessary for the absorption of Vitamins A, D and E and building blocks for our cell membranes and hormones and because the brain is composed of 70% fat, be sure to consume adequate amounts of  healthy sources such as: organic coconut oil (great for cooking at high temperatures), cold-pressed olive oil, soaked nuts such as almonds and walnuts, avocadoes and flax oil.  Avoid trans fats that are in most processed foods.
    • Get off the blood sugar/insulin roller coaster ride by eating foods that have a low-glycemic  index (meaning they raise your blood sugar gradually instead of causing a surge of insulin which causes weight gain and leads to inflammation-an underlying cause of many chronic illnesses.)  Foods such as nuts, seeds, veggies, protein and whole grains have a low glycemic index and tend to balance and maintain blood sugar levels which in turn stabilizes our moods and energy levels.
    • Minimize the intake of acid-forming foods and drink such as: meat, soda, coffee and sugar.  When the body becomes too acidic (from these foods as well as from stress), it is more prone toward illness.  Additionally it leaches calcium from the bones to balance the PH of the blood making women more vulnerable to conditions such as osteopenia and osteoporosis. Alkalizing foods are: green leafy vegetables, lentils, Kambucha, citrus fruits etc. .
    • Consume some super-foods such as:  Acai, organic or wild blueberries, and pomegranate as these colorful, antioxidant rich foods help ward off chronic illness.  That’s right, that’d be the green light for small amounts of organic dark chocolate and red wine!  
    • Spice up your foods and decrease inflammation by adding pinches of cayenne, turmeric and other anti-inflammatory herbs.
    • Take a good comprehensive multivitamin (with adequate amounts of the B vitamins and the proper balance between magnesium and calcium). My favorite can be found at NutritionistsChoice.com. Consider additional nutrients such as high quality, mercury free, fish oil as a source of anti-inflammatory Omega 3’, Coenzyme Q 10 which helps improve cardiovascular health and improves energy at a cellular level.
    • Get your Vitamin D blood level checked and take enough of this important vitamin to maintain a healthy heart, brain, immune function and bones.  Since many of us aren’t outside enough (and when we do go out we lather up with sunscreen), it’s common to test low in Vitamin D.  Recent studies have shown that those of us with Vit D levels above 50 have decreased incidence of dementia, heart disease and cancer.
    • B12 is one of the most common vitamin deficiencies we develop as we age.  This is due to the fact that it is a difficult vitamin to absorb as it requires stomach acid (which diminishes with age and is blocked by acid-blocking medications).  It also requires a special protein called Intrinsic Factor which is made in the stomach and absorbed in the small intestines.  Blood testing is not always a reliable indicator of need. 

Want to learn more about natural aging?  Check out Dr. Deanna’s Healing Handbook:  http://deannaholdren.com/healing-handbook/

Maureen McDonnell has been a holistic, nutritionally-oriented RN for 37 years.  She is the health editor of WNC Woman Magazine, the Medical Coordinator of the Imus Ranch for Kids with Cancer in New Mexico, the cofounder of Saving Our Kids, Healing Our Planet (SOKHOP.com).   Maureen spends her days researching, writing and presenting on ways we can optimize our health by consuming nutrient-dense, whole foods, reducing our exposure to toxins and practicing happiness. She lives with her husband H in the amazing mountains of North Carolina and is blessed with 7 grandchildren.

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