Happy New Year!
As we enter a new decade, I reflect on how quickly time passes. This summer I'll turn 62 and besides the joy of collecting my first social security check, i feel fortunate that I still feel really young and I'm able to do pretty much anything I could do decades ago. Luckily for us, our body regenerates itself, constantly replacing old cells with new ones. We get to choose how good we feel and how healthy we are by providing our body with the proper fuel and materials. If your body regenerates new cells from potato chips and beer you won't be as healthy as if it builds new cells from organic fruits and vegetables. Sounds obvious but most of us aren't usually thinking about food and drink as "fuel" for cell regeneration. The good news is that even if you've never taken care of yourself, it's not too late to make some changes. If you woke up face down on New Years Day vowing that you were going to take better care of yourself in 2010, here are some suggestions for you.
Three Things You Can Do to get Healthier in 2010
Last year I gave you a list of 10 things to do to improve your diet in 2009. Looking at the list, I still stand by all the recommendations but this year I'll make it simpler - just THREE things.
#1 - Eat Real Food
Don't eat out of a box. Packaged food is usually full of processed, nutrient-free food that may be full of salt, sugar, unhealthy fats and unpronounceable preservatives and food colorings. Prepare your own food. Eat a healthy breakfast at home, pack a lunch and cook a simple dinner with your loved ones while unwinding from the stresses of the day. I've provided you with over 120 healthy recipes in 2009 made from fresh, whole foods packed with fiber and vital nutrients.
#2 - Get Moving
Besides diet, exercise is the best way to turn back the clock, lose weight and significantly reduce the risk of disease. This morning's Wall Street Journal's Health and Wellness section reported that besides boosting the immune system, exercise can "lower the risk of stroke by 27%, reduce the incidence of diabetes by around 50%, reduce the incidence of high-blood pressure by around 40%, can reduce the risk of recurrent breast cancer by 50%, can lower the risk of colon cancer by over 60%, can reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease by approximately 40% and can decrease depression as effectively as Prozac or behavioral therapy". These are shocking statistics! With these amazing numbers, I would think everyone would happily start an exercise regimen. Check out the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans issued by the federal government in 2009.
# 3 Get These Vital Nutrients
More and more is being written about the importance of Omega 3 fatty acids and vitamin D in the prevention of disease.
Omega 3 reduces inflammation and is key for brain development, proper immune function, a healthy cardiovascular system and preventing joint pain and depression. Best vegetarian sources of ALA omega 3 are English walnuts, flax seed and oil, chia and hemp seeds. Seafood and high quality fish oil capsules are the best sources of EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids. For more details on best sources and how much is needed, see my July 31, 2009 post on Best FIsh and Vegetarian Sources of Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids. Check out all of my Articles and Recipes on Omega 3 including my popular chia pudding recipes.
Although there are many studies contradicting the benefits of popular supplements, more and more studies are extolling the benefits of taking Vitamin D. This vitamin has long been known for its importance in calcium metabolism and bone health. Recently there have been two important discoveries. One, most people are deficient in vitamin D, and two, deficiency has been linked to cancer, vascular disease, increased susceptibility to colds and flu and chronic inflammation. And although the RDA for this vitamin is only 400 IU, experts are now recommending 1,000 to 2,000 IU's daily. Even though the body makes vitamin D from exposure to the sun, you may not be getting enough unless you are caucasian working outdoors and living near the equator. Other sources of vitamin D are from fortified milk and orange juice, seafood and mushrooms but again, it is very difficult to get sufficient quantities of vitamin D from food so supplementation is very important. D2 is the vegan form of vitamin D and D3 is derived from an animal source (like sheep's wool).
May I also remind my raw food vegan friends to supplement with Vitamin B12 and to plan their nutrition very carefully. For more information on this read my post on Raw Food DIet - Is it Enough?
Make this year the best and healthiest year of your life. And thanks for letting me be part of your journey. Happy New Year!
For my 2009 recommendations, read The Top 10 things you can do to improve your diet in 2009. Please consult your physician before you begin a new diet regimen or exercise program.