Wellness Wednesday – Dietary Tips for Baby Boomers

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In her article Dietary Tips for Baby Boomers – Ageless Advice for an Aging Generation Lynn Grieger, RD, CDE, cPT shares that certain nutrients and actions can aid in controlling weight, warding off disease, and promoting a state of healthy aging:

“By 2030, the number of older Americans will have more than doubled to 70 million, or one of every five people.2 Baby boomers born in the 1950s and 1960s could expect to live to the approximate age of 69 at birth; if you make it to 65, you can expect to add another 14 years to your life.

Basic Healthy Nutrition Practices

Bradley J. Willcox, MD, MSc, is lead investigator of the Hawaii Lifespan Study and the Okinawan Centenarian Study at the Pacific Health Research Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii. Willcox’s research doesn’t provide earth-shattering evidence for new or exotic nutrition recommendations. Instead, it confirms what we already know: People who keep their weight at healthy levels throughout their lifespan and eat a primarily plant-based diet live longer, healthier lives.

Caloric Restriction

Maintaining energy balance not only promotes a healthy weight but can also reduce the risk of developing several chronic diseases associated with obesity. As early as the 1930s, McCay et al reported that caloric restriction prolongs the lifespan and promotes healthier aging.8 Okinawan Japanese eat a lower calorie diet, enjoy a longer lifespan, and have lower incidence of chronic disease. They practice Hara hachi bu, which translates to “80% full.” According to Willcox, Hara hachi bu is an “insurance plan” against feeling deprived since it takes approximately 20 minutes for the body to signal the brain that there’s no need for more food. Hara hachi bu gives the brain a chance to catch up and is key to Okinawan weight control, he explains.

Mild caloric restriction combined with optimum nutrient intake, similar to the diets of Okinawans, can help reduce inflammation and other risk factors for chronic disease. Okinawans not only live roughly 20% longer than Americans, but they also enjoy nearly an additional decade of disability-free, healthy living. The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) asserts that maintaining a healthy weight (as lean as possible without being underweight) is the most important way to prevent cancer and many other chronic diseases. Fat cells produce estrogen, which promotes cell growth, including growth of cancer cells. Body fat also contributes to inflammation and insulin resistance, which promote cell growth and reproduction.”

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