Approximately one-third of Americans are age 50 or older, according to AARP, and in 2030, one in five will be 65+. As Americans add on years, healthy aging has become a hot topic.
Most people agree that living without limitations from chronic disease, and being free of serious physical or mental disabilities are important at every age. In our latest episode of YRMC’s Your Healthy Kitchen, we take a look at diet and lifestyle recommendations for living a long and healthy life. Join us here to learn more, and be sure to try our new recipes!
Inflammation is a normal response of the immune system to an injury, infection or other physical threat. Therefore, we do need some level of inflammatory response to keep us healthy. But when the immune system chronically kicks inflammation into gear, that’s when chronic disease can settle in.
Scientific research suggests that the following diet and lifestyle factors might contribute to chronic inflammation.
- Excessive intake of sugar or alcohol
- Diets low in fiber, fruits, and vegetables
- Excessive intake of processed carbohydrates and fats
- Sedentary lifestyle
A number of long-term scientific studies correlate lifestyle with healthy aging. For example, the HUNT study, which followed 125,000 Norwegians for 22 years found that not smoking, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight and having good social support were linked to health later in life. Regular exercise was defined in this study as having planned moderate or intense exercise once a week or more.
Several studies based in the U.S. have also found connections between regular, moderate physical activity and longer, healthier lives. Two notable studies are the Cardiovascular Health Study, which followed 5,888 adults for 10 years; and the Nurse’s Health Study, which has been ongoing since 1976 with more than 280,000 participants.
Good research has also found that a Western-style diet, or one that prominently features meat, potatoes, and processed foods, consistently produces more blood-based inflammatory markers than diets that include more whole foods and plants. In general, studies show that the more plants individuals eat, the less inflammation they have.
The good news is that we can reduce chronic inflammation by getting regular physical activity, not smoking, having good stress management skills, and eating a plant-forward Mediterranean style diet.
You can find many plant-forward, Mediterranean-style recipes and meal ideas at yrmchealthconnect.org. As always, be sure to follow me on Facebook, at YRMC’s Your Healthy Kitchen, where I regularly post recipes, photos, and videos of the delicious, easy, and healthy meals I make at home!