“If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.”
– George F. Burns
Most authors that address how to retire worry-free discuss finances. My other blogs thus far are about financial well being and many more will be, because outliving our money is one of our most worrisome fears. However, I wanted to take time to discuss other very important considerations for a worry free retirement. Other considerations are for health, relationships, leisure, family and pursuing your dreams. It is time to start visualizing how you want to live.
As much as we plan for our financial well being, we need to be planning for our long-term health and wellness. I have just finished reading the Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (USDA, February 2015). Even though the new dietary guidelines have not come out, this report has scathing criticism about the current composition and quality of the American diet and the trends in the Nation’s leading diet- and lifestyle-related health problems. About one half of all American adults (117 million people) have one or more preventable chronic diseases that directly relate to poor quality diet and physical inactivity. More than two thirds of adults are overweight or obese.
Scientific evidence clearly supports that cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer are preventable. If you want a worry-free retirement, now is the time to align yourself with a healthy diet and physical activities that will support a healthy lifestyle into your 80s, 90s and even 100s. Now is the time to create a culture of health. For some of us, this requires a dramatic paradigm shift. We must take an active role in our health and wellbeing. It is time to fully understand that the food industry does not have our best interest as their top priority. In fact many nutrition leaders in this country today are protesting that the reason that we do not have new dietary guidelines today is directly due to the food industry lobby.
The study defines three healthy dietary patterns that were identified in the scientific studies. They were the healthy U.S.-style pattern, the healthy Mediterranean-style pattern, and the healthy vegetarian pattern.
The dietary pattern for a healthy diet is not nearly as relevant as the common characteristics shared by all three healthy diets. A healthy diet is high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seafood, and beans moderate in low- or non-fat dairy and nuts, and low in red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains. Moderate alcohol intake can be a component of a healthy diet in adults. Evidence was not nearly as strong for inclusion of whole grains as it was for vegetables and fruits. High intake of red and processed meats and sugar-sweetened foods and beverages as well as refined grains were detrimental in almost all of the studies’ conclusion statements.
Physical activity is also required for health promotion and disease prevention in the United States. As a single blog is too short to discuss the benefits of both nutrition and physical activity, this blog focuses an introduction to quality nutrition.
Now, to eating. Eating happens to be one of my favorite things to do. I am the type of person who can sit down and read cookbooks from cover to cover. Nutrition has always been one of my passions. Before we go any further, let me say that there are many authors out there who will tell you that their newest finds are the only way to eat. There are diets that speed your metabolism, diets that remove all you toxins, diets that kill your yeast infestation, diets that revolve around some kind of fasting, etc. You get the picture.
First, I want to say that there is much about many of these diets that can and should be considered. Some of the points made by plans should be taken to heart. However, any diet that limits your ability to explore the joys of whole foods should not be followed religiously. I have been on a lifelong experiment with food. I have fasted. I have been a vegetarian, a vegan, a macrobiotic follower, a follower of Atkins, the South Beach Diet and the paleo diet, a gluten-free dieter, and on and on. Recently, I have been on an ultra-low carbohydrate diet. Ketosis can be a wonderful thing, and for some chronic illnesses, it should become a lifestyle. Being ketotic was wonderful for helping me drop a few pounds that I gained when I quit intentionally eating and started EATING. I do want you to know that while I use my own body as a laboratory for different types of diets, I am a scientist and monitor my vitals regularly. In addition, I keep records of my intake and record qualitative changes in my appearance, my sleep patterns and the way I feel.
Second, and probably more importantly, I want to remind you that there is nothing but truth to “you are what you eat.” While different cells in your body turn over at different rates, with rare exception your body replaces itself in 10 years. The lining cells of your gut are replaced every 2 to 4 days. Skin cells are replaced every month. Red blood cells are replaced every 4 months. Exceptions include fat cells, heart cells, and your skeleton. When I was in graduate school, it was thought that nerves were not replaced. We now know that the body even makes new brain cells. The ingredients used to replace your cells are the ingredients you eat or the molecules the body makes from the ingredients you it. If you do not replace the nutrients required to make new cells, the new cells you make will not be healthy. Is it any wonder that if you eat poorly, you become unhealthy?
I am getting ready to focus on bone broth as a nutrient source. My husband has osteoarthritis in his knees and his right knee is now bone against bone. He has decided to hold off on knee replacement surgery for as long as possible and I want to see if the anti-inflammatory properties of bone broth may help. Bone broth is rich, complex, hearty and satisfying. It is very high in the amino acids cysteine, arginine, glycine and proline, multiple bio-available minerals, Vitamin A, healthy fats, alkylglycerols, glucosamine and chondritin sulfate. I do plan to mix it up a little with my version of Dr. Mark Hyman’s UltraBroth. I am a firm believer that we can heal ourselves (to a degree) with nutrition and exercise but we do have to act intentionally when embarking on a healing process.
If you are in your sixties like I am and have not exercised since you played football in high school, please, please, please do not embark on an exercise regime that is too strenuous. In fact, I will repeat the warnings we hear all the time. Do not start a new exercise program without first seeing your health care provider. In addition, if you have a chronic illness, do not perform any strenuous exercise without being monitored by your by your physician. While federal guidelines say adults need 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week, a recent study analyzing data involving over 100,000 men and women between the ages of 60 and 101 found that even 15 minutes a day of exercise 5 days a week resulted in a 22 percent drop in deaths from heart disease and stroke.
Common sense should be used in all endeavors to improve your health. Remember, it took you a lifetime to get where you are, do not expect to get where you are going in a day or two.