What is your idea of aging well? Maybe its traveling, creating the perfect garden, or volunteering for an
organization whose goals align with your personal passions. Chances are better than ever that you’ll
have more time to do the things you love, but simply living longer won’t guarantee you’ll be healthy
enough to do them.
The good news is that simply eating well and staying active can go a long way towards maintaining good
health and staving off age-related ailments. Here are some simple ideas for healthier daily living so you
can keep doing the things you love.
Eating “cleaner” means avoiding unneeded, often toxic substances such as pesticides, hormones,
antibiotics, preservatives and flavor enhancers commonly used by most large-scale food producers. A
great deal of research has shown that these chemicals can contribute to health problems such as weight
gain, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and dementia. Steering clear of unhealthy additives is not difficult,
but it does take some time and persistence.
Two simple yet powerful ways to eat cleaner are (1) making more home-cooked meals using fresh,
healthy ingredients and (2) reading labels when buying pre-packaged foods. Look for local farmers’
markets, Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), and grocery chains that carry a wide variety of
organic, sustainably produced foods. As for finding the time to make these healthy ingredients into
meals, pull out your crockpot and look up some recipes online (there are many!), or prepare larger
batches of your favorite foods and freeze meal-sized portions for later consumption. And to tame those
mid-morning or pre-dinner hunger pangs, reach for almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds or an apple
instead of processed snack foods.
When checking ingredient lists (keep the reading specs handy), use the “simpler is better” rule. Although
not all multisyllabic substances found on food labels are harmful, when in doubt choose the tortillas that
contain only corn, water, and lime instead of those containing fumaric acid, bisulfites, and hydrocolloids.
Make Your Calories Count
Our bodies need a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods including fats with a high Omega-3 ratio and
complex carbohydrates. Avocadoes, olive oil, nuts, seeds, wild caught fish, eggs, and dairy products from
pasture-fed animals all contain these “good fats” to help your body and brain function optimally and
quell cravings for sugary, processed foods. Fresh fruits and vegetables, potatoes (especially sweet
potatoes), and whole-grain bread are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber as well as
energy. In general, it’s more important to make your calories count by consistently eating nutrient-
dense foods than it is to count calories, so do your best to pack in the nutrients whenever you prepare a
meal. Supercharge your oatmeal by adding your favorite nuts, seeds, fruits, and yogurt. Add your
favorite cooked beans or lean meat to a variety of vegetables and fruits you love topped with a yogurt-
based dressing. Adding your favorite herb or spice to the foods you prepare frequently increases the
nutrient value as well as the flavor, which brings us to the next deliciously simple suggestion for
Spice it up!