Strong ex­er­cise and nu­tri­tional habits are your best bets for op­ti­mum health

Milwaukee Health - - NUTRITION ALCOHOL -


While nu­tri­tion­ists agree there’s no per­fect “one size fits all” diet, most sup­port a healthy, bal­anced diet that em­pha­sizes fresh pro­duce, healthy fats (oils from olives, nuts, seeds, avo­ca­dos and co­conuts) and wild-caught fish, es­pe­cially salmon and other deep-wa­ter fatty fish that are high in es­sen­tial omega 3 fatty acids. Other foods that are high in omega 3s in­clude avo­ca­dos, co­conuts and co­conut oil, nuts and seeds. ▸very­thing else should be kept in mod­er­a­tion. One model that meets those cri­te­ria is the Mediter­ranean diet.

But not all fruits and veg­gies are cre­ated equal. You’ll get the most nu­tri­tional bang for your buck with an­tiox­i­dant-rich foods like blue­ber­ries, straw­ber­ries, beets, spinach, broc­coli and dark leafy greens. Those last (green) veg­gies – par­tic­u­larly kale, col­lards and spinach (in mod­er­a­tion) – are also high in cal­cium, nec­es­sary to build strong bones and fight os­teo­poro­sis and os­teope­nia, a less se­vere con­di­tion.

For women who’ve been di­ag­nosed with one of those con­di­tions or are at risk, Chen rec­om­mends sup­ple­men­tal cal­cium, mag­ne­sium and vi­ta­mins D and K – and to not smoke. Dis­cuss your risk, and whether to sup­ple­ment (and how much) with your doc­tor.

Some ex­perts be­lieve chronic, un­con­trolled in­flam­ma­tion is the “gate­way” to many other con­di­tions, in­clud­ing arthri­tis, can­cer, heart dis­ease, di­a­betes, de­pres­sion and, some ex­perts be­lieve, Alzheimer’s. Com­bat it by eat­ing an anti-in­flam­ma­tion diet, such as the one rec­om­mended by Dr. An­drew Weil (go to dr­ This ap­proach puts the em­pha­sis on fresh veg­eta­bles and fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes, with two to six serv­ings of fish and seafood per week and very lit­tle an­i­mal pro­tein.

A bal­anced diet is fun­da­men­tal to weight man­age­ment; ex­cess weight and obe­sity are fac­tors in al­most ev­ery se­ri­ous dis­ease and con­di­tion.


Keep­ing fit is a key fac­tor to stay­ing healthy as you age. Reg­u­lar work­outs help you con­trol your weight and re­duce the risk for the lead­ing causes of death. ▸xer­cise low­ers choles­terol; strength­ens mus­cles and bones; im­proves cir­cu­la­tion, men­tal health, mood and sleep; and boosts en­ergy and con­fi­dence. For older adults, it helps pre­vent falls (see side­bar, page 39) and in­creases chances of liv­ing longer.

“In­ac­tiv­ity leads to over­all phys­i­cal de­cline,” Chen says. Work­ing out reg­u­larly also re­duces your risk for stress, he says, and that is an un­der­ly­ing fac­tor in most ma­jor dis­eases.

“Af­ter age 30, we lose 1 to 3 per­cent of mus­cle mass ev­ery year,” adds ▸ric Pam­puch, fit­ness pro­gram co­or­di­na­tor at In­ter­faith Older Adult Pro­grams in Milwaukee.

This is es­pe­cially prob­lem­atic as peo­ple age, be­cause that at­tri­tion is of­ten ac­com­pa­nied by other losses, such as bal­ance and flex­i­bil­ity, says Pam­puch.

The main prob­lem ar­eas for peo­ple over 60 are lower back, knees, shoul­ders and el­bows. Knees, es­pe­cially, take the brunt of our weight and mobility. Pam­puch, who leads se­niors well into their 90s through strength­en­ing and stretch­ing pro­grams, says you don’t nec­es­sar­ily have to change your work­outs as you age – “but you must use the right form,” he stresses. “Lift­ing wrong... ac­tu­ally in­creases your risk for in­jury.”

Pam­puch rec­om­mends 150 min­utes of car­dio­vas­cu­lar ex­er­cise per week. The se­cret is find­ing a sched­ule you can in­te­grate into your life­style.

Weightlift­ing or other strength train­ing at least twice a week is es­sen­tial to fight the loss of mus­cle mass. Aim for 20 to 30 min­utes per ses­sion, ide­ally with a pro­fes­sional who’ll make sure you’re not set­ting your­self up for in­jury. Be sure to rest in be­tween days to give the mi­cro-tears a chance to heal.

Don’t be afraid to lift three-, five- or even eight-pound weights, he adds. When you lift, the mus­cles are forced to tug on the bone, which in­creases den­sity. “I have a 91-year-old male client who uses five- and eight-pound weights, and a 90-year-old woman who does plenty of rep­e­ti­tions with three-pounders.”

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