Expert says, ‘It’s the worst dirty trick of aging’

In 2014, how much progress did we make in the search for sound lifestyle? Many of us know it’s better to ask for low fat milk or eat more chicken than fatty meat. Some of us see the nutritional folly of soft drinks loaded with sugar, and that we should eat more fruits and vegetables.

But a report in Nutrition Action Health Letter says some messages have not shown up on our radar.

One – more of us now know obesity is associated with heart disease and diabetes. But many of us have not learned that extra pounds increase the risk of cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society claims 35% of malignancies are related to poor eating habits, inactivity and overweight.

Cancers linked to obesity include breast malignancy in postmenopausal women and cancer of the esophagus uterus, colon, rectum, kidney and pancreas.

Two – Susan Krebs-Smith of the U.S. National Cancer Institute reports too many people continue to eat crackers, cereal, pancakes, pizza crust, cookies and pastries made with refined flour, rather than grains from whole wheat.

The best way to ensure the purchase of whole wheat is to look at the ingredients listed on the product. The word ‘whole’ should be first on the list. Often it’s hard to find. Whole wheat contains more fiber, minerals and vitamins to fight constipation and cardiovascular disease.

Three – We need 4,700 milligrams (mg) of potassium daily, yet the average person gets 2,900 mg. This is not a minor point. Graham McGregor, professor of cardiovascular medicine at the London School of Medicine in the U.K., says potassium lowers blood pressure. To prove it, McGregor gave an extra 2,500 mg of potassium to people with high blood pressure who were only getting 2,200 mg from their diet. His study showed that arteries that were stiff became less rigid and resulted in decreased blood pressure. It also showed less thickening of the heart’s muscle.

A U.S. study of 1,000 young adults who consumed more potassium and less sodium also resulted in less thickening of the heart’s muscle, indicative of a healthier heart. So consumption of bananas and other fruits and vegetables ensures enough potassium.

Four – Today, 95% of those with Type 2 diabetes are obese. Yiqing Song of The Harvard Medical School says there is consistent evidence that increased dietary magnesium fights this epidemic. It’s disastrous that one in 13 North Americans have this disease. For those over 65, one in four.

So in 2015 more whole wheat bread, nuts, a high bran cereal and leafy vegetables can reduce this disease.

Five – But there’s bad news for seniors. Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition at New York University says, “Food lover that I am, the worst part about getting older is that I cannot eat as much as I used to without putting on weight.” She adds, “I consider this the worst dirty trick of aging.”

The resting metabolism test indicates the amount of energy needed to keep our heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs functioning day after day. Nestle states that metabolism shifts into a lower gear for men at age 40, but not until age 50 for women.

This is another example of it not being a fair world! What happens is that muscle weight is exchanged for fat as we burn fewer calories as we age. Moreover, elderly people become less active. This combination leads to more pounds. The hard truth is we have to eat less as we age.

Six – This is the 38th year I’ve had the pleasure of wishing readers a happy, safe and healthy holiday season.

My apologies if I’ve just sent you into a eating funk at this festive time of year. If that’s the case, Brian Wansink of Cornell University, author of Mindless Eating, suggests cutting calories by using smaller plates for food. And to pour your Christmas cheer into a tall narrow glass. Wide ones hold more. It’s also wise to keep food out of sight and reach. And if you delay asking for a second helping or dessert for 20 minutes, you may find you don’t want it. These are all good suggestions for 2015.

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