In my last blog, I explained how important nutrition is for both prolonged life expectancy and decreased chronic, degenerative disease. Now you need to understand how and what to eat.
Research has found that healthy dietary “patterns”, those that focus on health-promoting foods – on combinations of foods and nutrients – rather than focusing exclusively on single nutrients (food in isolation), are consistent with healthy aging. Scientists and registered dietitian nutritionists understand that people eat whole foods, not isolated nutrients.
A healthy dietary pattern provides sufficient macronutrients:
• Carbohydrates to meet physical and energy needs, without excess.
• Protein to repair cells and make new ones.
• Fats as our source of essential fatty acids.
Plus, fluid and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), to meet body requirements.
Carbohydrates (the plant kingdom), a major source of energy, are consumed in fruit, vegetables, grains, and legumes. Minimally processed rather than ultra-processed selections need to be chosen. Protein (animal kingdom or plant protein) needs to be adequate – neither insufficient nor excessive. Modest quantities of fat, principally monounsaturated, should be included.
In summary, good health status during aging can be achieved with a healthy dietary pattern – rich in health-promoting foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and healthy oil, with moderate amounts of preferably lean protein, and modest amounts of healthy fats. Added sugar, refined grains, ultra-process starchy vegetables, saturated and trans fats, need to be avoided. The best examples are the Mediterranean Plan, the DASH Plan (for hypertension), or the MIND Plan (neurological conditions).