Last year we wrote a blog about eating healthy as you age. That blog can be found here. This month we’re going into a bit more detail to explain some simple changes you can make to your diet to improve your health.
A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that drinking all kinds of soda, even diet or zero calorie options, is linked to later life complications and a lower lifespan. Cutting back on your intake of fizzy, sugary beverages won’t just help your oral health, it will also help you live longer. Instead of a diet Coke, think about drinking water, or if you miss the fizz, a seltzer like La Croix or Dripfizz.
Fruit juices may seem like a healthy alternative to soda, but with high sugar content and little to no nutritional value (even with added calcium and vitamin C) these beverages are best left to special occasions. Orange juice will not help you kick your cold, that was clever marketing without scientific research. The best way to enjoy these delicious flavors is in their original packaging. Your body is well equipped for digesting fruit juice, as long as it comes with the fruit itself. Full fruits are very good for you, but drinking just the juice is cheating, consuming all the sugars without the cellulose and fiber that is supposed to go with it. An orange juice in the morning every once in a while isn’t a bad thing, just don’t call it healthy, and definitely avoid claiming it will cure your cold.
Cutting back on your consumption of meat, especially red meat, can also help you live longer. While most of us don’t want to take all the steps to become full vegetarians, many Americans are starting to limit the amount of meat they consume, occasionally skipping a meat course with their meals or replacing it with other complex proteins like beans and rice. As well as being very bad for the environment, meat is a very rich source of nutrients, which means it can often be more than your body needs. Smaller helpings of meat can seriously reduce your risk for heart disease. Switching the steak out for Chicken or Fish can also be helpful for extending your life. The Mediterranean Diet includes a lot of fish, some chicken and very little red meat and has given people longer lives and less risk of cancer than a typical American diet. It will always be a good idea to replace the ground beef patty burger for any of the many alternatives, from turkey, to chicken, to fish, to the many meatless options now available like the Impossible and Beyond Burgers.
Obviously eating vegetables is an integral part of maintaining a healthy diet. Choosing a salad over a burger will always be a wise decision. However many servings of vegetables you are eating, it is almost certainly not enough. So eat more leafy greens, but be aware of two compounds found in vegetables that you should try to avoid: Uric Acid and Oxalate. Uric Acid can be found in:
- liver meat
Too much uric acid will result in Hyperuricemia and gout, a build up of crystals in the joints resulting in painful arthritis. Oxalates can be found in:
- Dark green vegetables, such as spinach
- Soda (cola)
- Soy beans
- Soy milk.
- Sweet potatoes
- Tea (black)
- Wheat bran
Eating foods high in oxalates seriously increases your chances of getting kidney stones. While it is important to eat vegetables, it is also important to eat a diverse collection of vegetables, not just spinach every day. An older Popey would certainly be doubled over in pain as he passes jagged crystals in his urine, avoid a similar fate by limiting your spinach intake an eating other vegetables alongside.
Diversity is key
Numerous nutritional studies have shown that the best thing you can do for your diet is to eat a diverse array of foods. It is very easy to fall into habits, especially as we age. It’s easy to go to the food court every day, or just go to your favorite local restaurant, or eat the same eggs and hashbrowns every morning. We are creatures of habit, but unfortunately, well established eating habits can seriously limit the diversity of your diet which can mean that you’re avoiding certain important micronutrients. Having a varied diet will always be the best way to ensure you get the different nutrients your body needs, even better than a multivitamin. Today, think outside the food court and think about what foods you’ve accidentally been avoiding. Eat something different and you could do wonders for your health.