Low in calories, high in satisfaction, and down-right delicious (who can say no to a perfectly ripe peach in summer or a steaming bowl of bean soup on a snowy winter evening?), Fruits, vegetables, and legumes deserve a starring role on your plate. Eat them to your heart’s content, suggests Dr. Willcox, one of the lead researchers for the Okinawa Longevity Study. “I never limit produce or legumes,” he says. “When I’m hungry, I’ll have some ripe pineapple or strawberries. I don’t count my servings of legumes, either. They’re higher in calories but so satisfying that you really can’t overdo it, as long as you watch the added fat.”
This is a very important point, worth reiterating. As long as you don’t use lots of oil or high-calorie add-ins, you can healthily eat as much fruit, vegetables, and beans as you wish. No Limit! (The exceptions are people who have diabetes or are prone to big blood sugar swings; then sweet fruit should be eaten in greater moderation.)
Beans in particular are antioxidant super-stars. When researchers analyzed the antioxidant concentration in more than 100 foods, small red beans can in first, followed by red kidney beans and pinto beans in second and third place, respectively. And beans are packed with fiber and are a terrific source of protein. No single food can help you fulfill the Long Life Eating guidelines as well as beans.
But let’s not undersell vegetables! You can’t go wrong if you shop in season. Just-ripe fruits and veggies have the highest levels of vitamins and antioxidants; levels decline as produce sits on the shelf. And don’t assume that raw is better than cooked. Some phytochemicals are actually more available for absorption when vegetables are processed, such as the prostate-protecting lycopene in tomato sauce and the carotenoids in lightly steams spinach and carrots.
Don’t shy away from convenience produce either, says dietitian and physician Dr. Gerbstadt. “Prepackaged, single-serving bags of baby carrots or raisins are one serving, and they’re ready to go,” she says. “Other options include half-cup servings of fruit in juice, available in the canned fruit section. Even fruit-roll ups count if they are all fruit. So do all-fruit pops – just look for the brands that are 99 percent fruit and have very little sugar; I’ve seen some with just 4 grams per pop.”
Take for instance, Whole Fruit brand Strawberry Fruit bars. These frozen bars are made with whole strawberries and they are the real deal. 1 bar clocks in at only 70 calories and Real Strawberries are the top ingredient. Other brand we love is Outshine’s Fruit & Vegetable bars, especially the Blueberry Medley. These have the best of both worlds because not only do they have blueberry and apple puree and real pear juice, these frozen treats also contain beet juice and sweet potato puree for added vitamins and nutrients and some natural sweetness. Once you try them, you’ll never be able to go back!
So I hope you have gotten a few great ideas of how to work these super foods into your diet. My favorite is the Fruit pops. I am going to pick some up today for a great after dinner healthy treat!
My last blog reveals the 7 choices of Long Life Eating. IF you didn’t get a chance to read it you can check it out here: 7 Choices of Long Life Eating.
Today I want to focus on Choice #1 -Make more than half of your diet beans, fruits, and vegetables.
Human beings evolved on a diet that was at least 70 percent these three ingredients – and your body really hasn’t altered its nutritional expectations much over the past million years.
That is actually how many of us ate – until a few decades ago, when breakthroughs in convenience morphed our diet towards processed “food products” packaged in boxes, cans, wrappers, and freezer containers. It is no coincidence that these dietary changes have been paralleled by a massive rise in diseases linked to food, from heart disease and diabetes.
A mountain of research shows that making produce and legumes the centerpiece of meals and snacks – as they once were – is a powerful health insurance policy. There are several reasons, but one of the biggest is that plant matter is packed with compounds called phytochemicals that disarm free radicals. These are rogue oxygen molecules, created naturally in the body and also ingested with toxins and pollutants, that damage cells and raise the risk of cancer, heart disease, and many other health problems.
One Harvard School of Public Health study of 39,127 women found that those who ate more than 10 fruit and vegetable servings per day had a 38 percent lower risk of heart attack than those who had less than 3 servings. Men who ate 9 servings a day cut stroke risk 39 percent. Just 5 servings a day lowers diabetes risk by 39 percent. A similar eating strategy cut levels of “bad-guy” LDL cholesterol 33 percent in Just two weeks!
A more natural diet goes a long way toward protecting you from cancer as well. An extra helping of two of produce at each meal could cut your odds for stomach cancer by 21 percent, lung cancer by up to 32 percent (even higher if you include lots of broccoli, cabbage, and brussels sprouts.) Researchers aren’t sure whether produce can protect against breast cancer, though one analysis found that cruciferous vegetables like cabbage may help.
Want to slash your risk for everyday health problems like migraine headaches, colds and flu, and slow-healing wounds, as well as big medical problems like heart disease, cancer, and dimming vision? Skip the drugstore – and drive straight to your local farmer’s market instead.
Eating lots of fruits, vegetables and legumes -foods high in antioxidants and other phytochemicals – is the cornerstone of the diets of healthy, long-lived populations around the world.
A glass of Concord grape juice at breakfast, a big spinach-and-white-bean salad at lunch, and a fruit salad after dinner provide immediate gratification, too. In one Australian study of 453 women and men ages 70 and older, those who ate the most healthy foods had the fewest signs of wrinkles! Treating yourself to the hundreds of important disease-fighting compounds found only in plant foods boosts immunity, speeds wound healing, and cuts your odds for everyday annoyances such as easy bruising, frequent nosebleeds, yeast infections, hemorrhoids, gout, and attacks of asthma brought on by physical activity.
Stay tuned for my next blog, where I focus on the Long Life benefits of adding more beans to your diet. It really isn't as hard as you think and the benefits are huge!
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It looks like it is time to move to Okinawa. Actually… not necessary! You don’t have to be born in one of the cultures I wrote about in my last blog, Eat Well- Feel Well, to get their kitchen-table health benefits. Anyone, anywhere, anytime can eat for health and long life. If you really wish, you can start from this very moment and move forward, with your very next meal or snack. The best news? The benefits would be immediate!
“Just by eating healthier you’ll feel more energetic, have better digestion, and even sleep better in just two to four weeks,” says Christine Gerbstadt, RD, MD, a dietitian and practicing physician. “It’s exciting how quickly you can feel the difference.”
That’s just the start of the benefits, too. You’ll have fewer colds as your immune system improves. Your body will naturally get to its proper weight. And you’ll take bold steps to prevent the deceases that most plague our senior years. “Four out of ten leading causes of death in America are heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer – have a huge diet component to them,” notes Susan Moores, RD, an expert on nutrition for older people. “What we eat – and how we eat it – makes a big difference in our health.”
So, what is the secret to this way of eating? The problem is, you can ask 100 doctors and you will get 100 different answers but what emerge and what some would call the seven golden choices for eating for energy, disease prevention, and long life. You can decide which are right for you and is why they are called choices instead of hard and fast rules.
Choice 1: Make more than half of your diet beans, fruits and vegetables.
Choice 2: Eat more whole-grain Foods
Choice 3: Eat more “good” fats
Choice 4: Eat Calcium-rich foods
Choice 5: Eat Lean protein
Choice 6: Eat fewer calories
Choice 7: Enjoy Eating!
Sounds easy, right? More like easier said, then done. In my next blog I will start breaking down these choices for you so that they are understandable and attainable.
And remember, that you will receive immediate benefits just but instilling one little change or in this case “choice” in your diet.
Each week I send out emails with great “Eating well” video recipes that help you achieve these choices for Long Life eating. Eating well really isn’t that hard if you know what and how to make the food that will fuel your body right.
Imagine a place where joints ache less, minds and memories remain stronger, digestion problems are few, a good night’s sleep is normal, and energy levels stay shockingly youthful – even at age 90 and beyond.
In this place cancer is virtually unknown. People’s arteries function as well at 85 as they did at 18 – and their odds of having a heart attack or stroke are the lowest in the world.
Places like this do exist today – in Okinawa, on the sun-drenched Mediterranean of Crete and even in the modern 7th day Adventist households of America.
What do these people have in common? Primarily, a healthy attitude and an even healthier diet. The foods people eat every day in these places might amaze you. On a single day in Okinawa, the average person eats nearly a dozen helpings of fruit and vegetables, seven servings of noodles, rice, and grain, plus tofu, fish, seaweed, and green tea. Dairy foods and red meat are rarely seen – or eaten. At night, friends knock back a glass or two of a fiery alcoholic drink made with hot peppers.
The menu is similar in Crete, where poultry and fish replace soy foods as the primary protein and locals sip their own homemade red wines. The story is the same with 7th Adventists, except they eat eggs and nuts for much of their protein. Many 7th Adventists are vegetarians who also abstain from alcohol, tobacco, and coffee.
Notably absent from everyone’s diet: Salty, Sweet, processed foods; buttery treats, juicy steaks; ever-flowing soda; and super-size portions.
The payoffs for a life free of cheese-drenched French fries, breakfast sweet rolls, and mega gulp drinks? Healthy-eating 7th Day Adventists live up to 9.5 years longer than other Americans, say researchers who tracked the diets and health histories of over 34,000 members of this Christian denomination. Okinawans have the longest life expectancy in the world – the average man lives to be 77, the average woman to 85. And more people on Okinawa have celebrated their 100th birthdays than people from anywhere else in the world – 35 in every 100,000. On Crete, the healthiest eaters were 25 percent less likely to die during a four-year study then their fellow countrymen who opted for more modern meals.
“We think diet plays an extremely important role in how long people in these parts of the world live and in how long they remain healthy, active, independent, and happy,” Says Bradley Wilcox, MD, of the Pacific Health Research Institute in Honolulu and lead researcher of the Okinawa Longevity Study. “A low calorie, low-fat, plant based diet is the key to maximizing life expectancy and minimizing the risk for all of the debilitating health problems that come with ageing.
In fact, what you put on your plate and in your mouth counts even more than whether or not you were born with longevity genes. “You could have Mercedes-Benz genes,” says Dr. Willcox, “but if you never change the oil, you are not going to last as long as a Ford Escort that you take good care of.”
This is a great lesson and one that I wrote about in a previous blog. You would not drive your car without changing the oil periodically and given it good fuel. Why would you do any less for your own body?
The best way to achieve Success with your health is to effectively “Train your Brain”
Forming a new habit, one you’ll do automatically, as your “default” setting , takes at least two weeks of faithful repetition. The reason is that you’re rewriting your brain. Researchers have discovered that giving up bad habits such a overeating, watching TV instead of exercising, or anything else that may feel good but isn’t so good for your health works against the brain’s pleasure systems. Your brain may actually go into withdrawal when you swamp bad habits for good habits, because you’re no longer supplying the activity or foods that send surges of the feel good chemical dopamine washing through your brain cells.
Outsmart withdrawal by substituting another feel-good food or activity. Experts suspect that sticking with a new, healthier pleasure long enough will teach your brain to release dopamine when you experience it, so that you actually look forward to that walk or slice of whole-wheat cinnamon toast in the morning.
One myth out there is that change has to hurt to be good for you. Like no pain, no gain. But the fact is, if it feels bad, it will be very difficult to stick with it. Exercise should make you feel good – feel beautiful. It should match your body type, your likes and dislikes, and your needs. When it does that, you’ll be able to stick with it.
A change that is right for you will help you feel energized yet relaxed. You may feel a little tired if you’ve just taken a walk or performed a few strength training moves, but you shouldn’t feel achy or exhausted. You may feel a little lighter in the tummy if you’re eating more moderate portions, but you shouldn’t feel starved. If you’re trying to add more relaxation, more hobbies, and more socializing to your day, you should expect to feel excited and busy, but never overwhelmed.
Change shouldn’t become a source of stress. Research shows that when it does, stress hormones impel us to do whatever we’ve always done to calm down. That might mean eating a cupcake or smoking a cigarette, having a glass of wine or complaining. Stress, then, can interfere with your efforts to change.
Remember, that the point is, if you start with changes that are easy to make, and stick with them for a few weeks, you’ll find that the next wave of changes are even easier. And suddenly, you are well down the path towards the long life and health you deserve.
Obvious, right? We all know how to take a vacation. But what if you have a job- and a demanding job at that? How can you get away from work when there is so much to do?
Planning: When you’re thinking about taking a vacation, consider the timing. You won’t want to leave in the middle of a project or before a big launch. Find out in advance a mutually agreeable time from your boss so you’re not stressed while away from the office. Some bosses prefer that you’re away when they’re away, and others prefer that you cover for them or manage in their place. Once you plan your vacation, inform your boss of the exact dates that you will be away.
Ask for Help: If you have people reporting to you, you should have a second in command or if you work closely with other people, ask them for their help. These people should be able to cover for you while you are gone – and you can do the same when he or she takes a vacation. You can voice this ahead of time to this person so that it becomes a win-win situation for both of you.
Tell people you will be out: Tell everyone you work closely with that you will be out of the office and assure key individuals or clients that you are well covered. Provide them with the name of the person who will be covering for you, whom they can go to in your absence. If you are working on a team project, give your teammates ample notice that you will be out of the office and ensure that you will get your part done before you go or immediately upon your return. As long as you are not leaving anyone in the dark there should be no surprises.
Give your boss a countdown: Periodically remind your boss about your upcoming vacation. More than likely this is not top of their mind. This way he or she isn’t surprised or unprepared when you go.
Set ground rules: Set boundaries. Let your boss know that you only plan to check emails from “time to time”. It is best to be vague. This way you won’t be compelled or feel obligated to check your phone or email all the time. Don’t set yourself up or pin yourself down. Too much information about your availability is bad. You don’t want to be too reachable on vacation, but you don’t want to check out completely either.
Review the plan with your boss: Meet with your boss to review who will be handling what in your absence and to offload all the loose ends. Being proactive about this will show your boss how dedicated you are. Let your boss know what could arise in your absence and what work you hope to have finished, or not. After this kind of meeting you can let go of the office and go on vacation responsibly with a clear mind.
Get organized: Before you head out for your vacation, organize your desk, clear your email and voicemail boxes, tie up any remaining loose ends (even if that means putting in a little extra time before you go) and make sure your boss knows the plan.
Try not to think about work: Use your time off to catch up on sleep, read a new book and spend time with friends and family. Let your vacation be a stark reminder that you have control over your level of relaxation and apply that at work when you return.
Most important? Let yourself relax. By taking time away from work to unplug and reconnect with other people and things in your life that also make you happy, you actually come back to the workplace recharged and more productive. You also will reap all the health benefits as presented in one of my previous blogs: Tips from the Beach Boys. Check out that blog for some great reasons why you need to take this well deserved vacation!
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