Six Ways Whole Foods Fuel Long and Active Years
An enjoyable retirement is a great American dream. People save up financially for decades, often planning to spend retirement traveling, with family, and fulfilling long-postponed goals.
The sad fact is that many have their retirement kidnapped by poor health. Americans with Medicare see an average of seven different physicians in a year. Even at age 55, more than half of people have more than one chronic health condition. These medical problems vacuum up money needed for more fun and meaningful activities. The pain and disability of illness are potent barriers to desired activities and quality of life. Yet much of this suffering can be avoided and even reversed.
Whole plant foods are healthy life span enhancers that work together as a powerful team. Here are six reasons why.
• Protective phytochemicals
• Perfectly packaged nutrition
• Inflammatory balance
• Durable, fracture-resistant bones
• Detoxification from toxic chemicals
• Optimize the functioning of your genes
Phytochemicals. Whole plants, including vegetables, fruits, beans, potatoes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, are brimming with health-boosting compounds called phytochemicals.
Plants form these natural chemicals because they are protecting themselves. Phytochemicals protect vegetation from harm, repel natural insect enemies, and allow plants to flourish.
The range of phytochemicals, eaten together in whole foods and forming a powerful team in your body, can encourage detoxification, neutralize the free radicals that damage and age your cells, balance your immune system, protect brain functioning, keep hormones at ideal levels, reduce blood pressure, and attack bacteria and viruses. You can’t obtain this impressive array of benefits, which supports a long and vigorous life, with animal foods, supplements, or heavily refined foods.
Optimal overall nutrition. Just as whole plant foods deliver the blend of natural phytochemicals your body is designed for, so
these foods are the ideal source of the other nutrients that boost lifespan.
All plants need protein, fats, complex carbohydrates, and minerals to survive. All are dense with natural vitamins. As just one example, consider folate. This essential B vitamin is found most abundantly in leafy greens – think foliage, and you’ll know where to get this nutrient. While folate is best known as being protective of fetal development, this nutrient is essential for the production of new cells and normal synthesis of DNA in adults as well.
The bottom line is that whole plant foods are dense with nutrients for supporting a long and active life. Eat a variety of these delicious choices throughout the day.
Inflammatory balance. Throughout life, you need to maintain a balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory forces in your body for health and survival. Inflammation, a process largely based on immune system activity, is your body’s response to internal or external threats. Factors triggering inflammation include infectious microbes, toxic chemicals, injury, radiation, foreign proteins, and free radicals. Without inflammation, you would be defenseless and unable to survive.
While the inflammatory response to danger is protective, inflammation that fails to resolve and becomes ongoing contributes to virtually all chronic illness. Scientists have identified many diseases that become more common with age as closely related to ongoing inflammation. Here is a partial list.
• High blood pressure
• Heart attack
• Type 2 diabetes
• Macular degeneration
• Gum disease
Think of how long and active your life could be without these illnesses. Unfortunately, as you age, your body tends to go into a pro-inflammatory mode as a consequence of lifelong overstimulation. That is one reason these diseases as so closely associated with
getting older. In fact, there is an entire model of getting older called inflamm-aging.
Whole plant foods are protective and work with your immune system to fight threats, and then resolve inflammation once its protective job is done. Animal foods and highly refined foods, on the other hand, may provoke your immune system and foster ongoing inflammation and its many health consequences.
Durable, fracture-resistant bones. Hip fractures are a bane of advancing age, and kill over 20% of their victims within a year. While the media inundates you with messages to consume more dairy foods for their calcium, the truth is that calcium has virtually nothing to do with how fracture-resistant your bones are. Plus countries with higher intakes of dairy products have higher bone fracture rates. On the other hand, eating fruits and vegetables is associated with stronger bones.
Detoxify from toxic chemicals. More than 85,000 industrial chemicals are used in the U.S. Researchers are not sure of how these chemicals – individually and as a dangerous brew when mixed – affect longevity, but many end up inside your body.
Among the most dangerous are persistent organic pollutants (POPs), manufactured for use as pesticides, herbicides, building materials, flame retardants, and more. Problems associated with aging, such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer, and immune system malfunction can all be triggered by POPs.
These chemicals dissolve and are stored in fat, so they become far more concentrated higher on the food chain. Animal foods are likely the source of 89% to 99% of the POPs in your body. Studies of supermarket food find that fish, especially, are heavily contaminated. Again, whole foods are your answer to keeping these dangerous and inflammatory chemicals at the lowest level possible in your body and to help your liver detoxify from the chemicals already dissolved in your fat.
Optimize the functioning of your genes. Just as you can sit at your keyboard and create many thoughts, your genetic code can express itself in diverse ways. For example, if you moved to another country and began eating like the locals, your risk of disease would change to match the area you moved to. Eating whole foods maximizes your genetic potential and protects your DNA.
Whole foods create healthy years. You can maximize your ability to enjoy adult life without pain, disability, and a medicine cabinet crammed with prescriptions.. Whole foods are delicious, satisfying, and gorgeous, so start making some dietary changes and feel time running in reverse.
If you enjoyed this post, you might want to read how whole foods also protect you from wrinkles.
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Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Now With Six Kinds of Whole Foods. This easy-to-follow eating plan is built on a whole foods, plant-based diet that can prevent, and even reverse, most chronic disease as well as get you to your perfect weight and keep you thriving well past retirement.