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Saturday, Apr 19, 2014
Health & Fitness

Forget the fads; good nutrition, exercise are next best thing to Fountain of Youth


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Staying youthful has become a cultural preoccupation. Twenty-somethings are getting Botox; 30somethings are popping pills, and 40somethings are experimenting with risky hormone cocktails. We’ve all heard it, “Sixty is the new 50!”

Clearly, healthy aging has transcended generations to a point of obsession. A look at the statistics confirm that fact: By 2015, the global anti-aging industry will balloon to $292 billion dollars. That’s a lot of retinol, antioxidants and fillers.

For a price, it seems you can have anything, from good health and dewy skin to a firm body and better sex. But, like any other industry, conflicting research pervades unregulated claims. Fad diagnoses like “adrenal fatigue” are on the rise; doctors with their own nutraceuticals are pushing a pill-a-palooza of sorts, and unproven hormone regimens have developed a cult following, even though they may cause cancer.

Aging is a natural, unavoidable process, not a medical diagnosis that requires intervention. You want a better sex life? Diet and exercise can help. Want to sharpen your memory? The right nutrition and cognitive games can do the trick. Want to lose weight, get toned and improve your heart health? Diet and exercise to the rescue, again. I hear you. “Boring!” But, the basics work, and they won’t cost you $500 monthly. Certainly, hours in the gym may not be fun, and rigorous attention to diet might not be a party, but each can help you achieve formidable results and potentially greater longevity.

When my clients discuss “age management” with me, we focus on a few key topics:

Total Caloric Intake: In general, a reduced calorie diet seems to extend lifespan, and given our metabolism slows 2 to 5 percent every decade after 40, it’s important to pay attention to portions. Break out those measuring cups to verify serving sizes, and make sure your plate is two-thirds full of colorful, antioxidant-rich vegetables and one-third full of lean protein. That’s 6 ounces of fish or 4 ounces of lean meat.

Tea: The world’s most popular beverage, second to water, is rich in polyphenols which may help cells repair themselves more easily and may help reduce the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer. Choose green teas, and enjoy two to three cups daily.

Protein: New research shows that doubling the daily requirement for protein may be beneficial, especially as muscle mass starts to decline. Further, calcium can’t build bone strength if you’re not getting enough protein, so enjoy turkey, omega-3-rich fish like salmon and tuna; chicken, beans, eggs and low-fat dairy products.

Exercise: Remaining active is critical. Activity keeps your metabolism primed and your body fit; it keeps your heart strong, your muscles limber, and promotes an independent life. Do aerobic activity five times weekly for 30 minutes and strength training twice weekly for significant benefits.

Remember, when it comes to quasi-medical anti-aging procedures, be smart. Question what you’re told and what you read. “Quick fixes” often are just that: short-term remedies with possible dangerous and long-term consequences.

Tina Ruggiero, M.S., R.D., L.D., is a nutrition expert and award-winning author. Her newest book is “The Truly Healthy Family Cookbook.” Find Tina at www.TinaRuggiero.com.

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