Feelin' Groovy

Eat right to feel right

Here are some great ways to feel good at any age.

We've all heard that our 40s are the new 30s, 50s are the new 40s, 60s the new 50s, and so on. As we grow older, we want to live healthier and stronger than our parents. But how?

Whether you're currently healthy as an ox, experiencing minor health challenges, or suffering a chronic condition such as arthritis, high cholesterol, or osteoporosis, here are simple steps to feel fabulous.

Many people already have a health problem that is visible all around: overweight. It is happening to younger and younger people, and the consequences as we age are severe. 76 percent of men and 71.5 percent of women age 65 to 74 are overweight, according to the Center for Disease Control. Being overweight can lead to several serious diseases. Within the last ten years, diabetes has increased 6.7 percent and hypertension has jumped 9 percent.

Maintain good nutrition

Eating a well-balanced diet that incorporates nutrient-dense foods is the cornerstone to good health. A nutritious diet gives you more energy, sharpens your mind, improves blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and can also prevent obesity and diabetes.

Incorporate superfoods into your diet for a delicious boost of nutrition. Superfoods are brightly colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy unsaturated fats, loaded with phytonutrients and antioxidants that assist the body in damage-repair and help reduce the risk of chronic disease and certain types of cancer.

Fill up on fiber. Fiber, found in complex carbohydrates, will help improve colon health, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer, and help lower bad cholesterol levels in your body. Men and women over 50 years of age should get 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day.

Diet Tips -- Become a label reader to avoid some of these don'ts.
Do Eat Don't Eat
Complex carbohydrates: beans, legumes, lentils, whole grains Refined white sugar and flour
Lots of veggies and fruits Empty calorie foods
Lean protein: lean beef, turkey and chicken breast, fish and eggs High sodium foods and products
Healthy oils and fats: omega-3 fats from fish such as salmon, avocados, walnuts, flax and coconut oil Hydrogenated oils and foods high in saturated and trans fats

Stay physically active

Regular exercise is one of the best things you can do to promote better health. Yet, despite the proven benefits of physical activity, according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, more than 50 percent of U.S. adults don't get enough physical activity to provide health benefits and 26 percent are not active at all in their leisure time.

    Physical activity can help to:

  • Reduce risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • Increase lean muscle tissue
  • Keep bones strong and healthy
  • Promote psychological well-being and mental clarity
  • Improve balance

Tip: After 50 years of age you should get a yearly checkup from your physician.

Feel good!

To ensure you stick to a physical activity plan, choose an activity that you enjoy, such as walking, running, biking, swimming, or tennis. Engage in your aerobic activity about 30 to 60 minutes, three to five times per week. Be sure to mix up your cardiovascular activity so you don't become bored and keep in mind that physical activity does not need to be strenuous to be beneficial.

Staying within your low-key heart rate, 50 percent to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate, is ideal for gaining health benefits. To determine your maximum heart rate, do this simple math:

maximum heart rate (MHR) = 220 minus your age (some recommend subtracting 226 for women)

target training zone = MHR times 0.50 up to 0.75, depending on your current level of fitness

Tip: Incorporate weight training into your exercise regimen. Resistance training strengthens muscles and bones. When your muscles are strong, you're less likely to fall and if you do fall, strong bones are less likely to break.

Activity gives you more energy

Within each of our cells we have an energy-maker called the mitochondria. From an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) molecule, the mitochondria creates energy by splitting off a phosphate molecule. The more phosphate splitting that is taking place within the mitochondria, the more energy you will gain. Being physically active encourages phosphate splitting, thus giving you more energy.

Reduce inflammation

Normal inflammatory response protects us from disease and injuries. But prolonged inflammation can cause havoc internally and lead to chronic conditions, including heart disease and cancer.

Certain foods can cause an inflammatory response while other foods can promote an anti-inflammation response. Eating a diet rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants will help reduce inflammation. Healthy fats from fish, nuts and avocados, work as an anti-inflammatory in our body and they also maintain healthy joints.

Tip: Along with omega-3 fatty acids, consider taking supplements containing gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) from evening primrose and borage oil to help keep inflammation at bay.

Supplement your diet

Start by selecting supplements that contain needed nutrients for your age and lifestyle. Natural food stores, such as Henry's Farmers Market, carry a wide variety of high-quality supplements and have a knowledgeable staff that can help guide you to the proper multivitamins, minerals, and other supplements.

If you need to add a little zing in your life, consider these:
Henry's 3 Ginsengs -- three different ginsengs that work synergistically to restore balance. Ginseng promotes energy and endurance and helps overall resistance to daily stress.
B Complex -- energize every cell in your body with B vitamins. Vitamin B1 is essential for healthy brain and nerve cells; B6 helps convert tryptophan to serotonin, an important brain chemical; and B12 helps maintain a healthy nervous system.
Acetyl L-Carnitine -- improves mental function and may enhance memory.
Alpha Lipoic Acid -- a powerful antioxidant that regulates glucose metabolism.

Tip: For general health and well-being, take a multivitamin to fill the gaps in your diet.

Avoid harmful habits and products

Don't smoke! Limit your exposure to chemicals and toxins. Eat organic whenever possible. If you are overweight, work towards maintaining a healthy body weight. Limit or eliminate alcohol from your diet. Don't avoid a visit to the doctor's office.

More sleep, less stress

Fight insomnia. Sleep disturbance is a common problem as we age. Although touted as beneficial for the heart, drinking alcohol can suppress your ability to get a good night sleep. Try avoiding alcohol for a better night's sleep. Also avoid eating a heavy meal right before bed time. Digestion takes energy, which can disrupt your good night's sleep.

Don't let stress get you down. We all feel stressed at times. How you react to stress will determine its effect on you. Stress can leave you feeling depressed or anxious, which depletes energy levels. Be sure to take time for yourself and have some fun.

I feel good!

With a little planning and a positive attitude, following the steps outlined here will help keep you feeling good throughout your boomer years and beyond.

Editor's Note: To verify your nutrition and fitness status, and appropriate foods and activities such as the suggestions in this article, consult your physician.

Henry's Farmers Market Nutritionist Janet Little, is a certified nutritionist with more than 20 years of experience in the health food industry. Janet has extensive knowledge in foods and nutrition and she is also educated in vitamins and minerals, herbal solutions, and homeopathic remedies. As a nutritional speaker and educator, Janet enjoys helping people make healthier food choices and encouraging people to live active lifestyles. http://www.henrysmarkets.com

Patrick Ray
This article did a nice job of conveying a lot of valuable information into a comfortable and easy to read format. Nicely done. It's cool how simple it is to eat and live in a healthy manner. Thanks for helping people to educate themselves, Janet Little!