How to avoid your health getting worse when you get older

Health, Seniors
seniors with pills

Today I got this message from an old friend that I haven’t seen for a long time. She was asking me for advice. As she is getting older, her health is deteriorating. This is what she said:

Hi Jane, loving your videos [gym videos on Instagram] and blogs, you really are an inspiration, well done, clever lady! Wish I had listened more to you when we were younger ha ha. My life style is now coming back to bite me on the bum, as it does. This year I have had liver problems, probably fatty, surprise, surprise. After ultrasounds I was diagnosed with gallstones. Then this week I was diagnosed with COPD!!! I also have too much iron. Can you recommend anything for lowering it, can’t tolerate Turmeric, which I tried. Am taking apple cider vinegar for liver/gallstones. keep up the good work!

This was my reply:

Really sad to hear this. Given all you’ve got going on, I don’t think adding some individual foods or supplements is going to shift your health significantly.  You really need to overhaul your diet. It’s not too late. Please give it a try. Your future can be different.

According to the CDC:

“Six in ten Americans live with at least one chronic disease, like heart disease and stroke, cancer, or diabetes. These and other chronic diseases are the leading causes of death and disability in America.”

“We know that most chronic diseases can be prevented by eating well, being physically active, avoiding tobacco and excessive drinking, and getting regular health screenings.”

I really recommend a plant-based diet. I became vegetarian and then vegan, because of concerns about animal cruelty. But I know that a big part of the reason I’m so healthy now is because I eat well. I eat lots of vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds. I also try to keep processed food to the minimum, but I do eat some. By concentrating on healthy food, I’ve found that I’ve lost my sweet tooth, and prefer healthy options in restaurants. If you concentrate on adding healthy stuff, you will start to eat less of the unhealthy food.

Healthline offers this easy grocery shopping tip:

Shop the perimeter of the store where the fresh foods are. Try to avoid the inside aisles where many of the boxed and processed foods reside.

 



You don’t have to do it all at once. You can start to make the transition by adding more vegetables. I’ve written an article about that.It’s not as hard as it may seem.

I recommend that you add at least one handful of nuts or seeds each day. There are lots of different ones so find one you like. I really like pumpkin seeds and pumpkin seeds. You can dry toast them in a frying pan and they taste even better. (They lose some of their nutrition this way. But if it gets you to eat them, we won’t worry about that.) I particularly recommend brazil nuts as they are such a good source of the mineral selenium. The American heart Association recommends brazil nuts for the heart. It also says that it can help to prevent weight gain.

Add some beans or peas.  Beans and peas have been shown to be hugely beneficial to our health. This can be as simple as baked beans, or an additional serving of peas with one of your meals. It could also be hummus or a bean burger. Don’t make things complicated for yourself.

Berries are really beneficial for our brains and the rest of our bodies. When fresh are expensive (and even when they are not), I buy frozen ones. You can add these to puddings and breakfasts.

If you need convincing about the benefits of plant-based diets, Dr Michael Greger’s website nutritionfacts.org spells it all out, backed up by scientific research. (You say you’ve recently been disgnosed with COPD. Here’s a link to what Dr Greger has to say about that.)

Please please start making these changes to your diet. Start adding these good things. You don’t have to do it all at once. If you want to enjoy your remaining years, you need to make these changes. Just make a start today (or tomorrow if you can’t go shopping now.)

Also think about making behavioural changes. For example, keep healthy food in clear containers at the front of your fridge. Keep unhealthy food at the back in dark containers. Use smaller plates. This fools you into thinking you have a bigger portion than you actually do. Drink more water. In particular drink water before a meal, as that can make you feel less hungry.

I’m not sure what exercise you do now. My guess is probably not much. Your health problems may restrict what you can do. But I would bet a lot of money that you could do significantly more than you do now. You could go to a gym. If that’s scary, you can workout at home. There’s lots of videos showing you how to work out at home.

I like this website for home workouts. You’d probably need to start with their Beginner Workout Program

I’ve given you a lot to think about and DO. Your body and your mind deserve a better lifestyle. You are the only person who can do it.  These changes will bring lasting benefits. It will also help you to feel more in charge of your life. Believe me, that’s a great feeling.

The CDC estimates that over 20% of US adults over 65, who are not in institutions (care homes or hospital) are in fair or poor health. Take these steps to avoid becoming one of these people.