When Prevention Prevails ~ Good Health Follows
Many years ago, in the throes of motherhood, I never gave aging a second thought. I was too busy changing diapers, making a million meals (felt that way!), and making sure each child was handling life! And before I knew it, they were gone, all living their own lives, and Ray and I found ourselves growing old together. I must admit, it was not until the late 60’s came and went and suddenly the 70’s were crashing in on us when I realized, wow, I am glad I began to take care of myself in my 50’s.
My 50’s were rough because suddenly I felt my age, filled with aches and pains. Fortunately, I was introduced to a program that was all about prevention instead of enduring chronic pain and letting prescription drugs take over.
I just recently read an article about people in their 50’s. An average man over the age of 50 usually takes about four different prescription drugs. Baby boomers are huge consumers of prescription anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, and painkillers. Unfortunately, as our bodies age, our metabolism slows down. This is a factor that makes drug addiction more risky for baby boomers because of the inability to rid the drug from their system very quickly. I began to realize what a difference practicing prevention had made in my own life after learning about this.
Simple strategies daily such as changing our diet and lifestyle, adding more fiber, utilizing supplements, cutting back calories, losing that excess weight and consistently exercising can actually reverse ill health and even prevent potential future disease. It sounds so simple but it really is just one day at a time. I feel so blessed each time I exercise that I am still able to. Both my father and mother died, I believe, not because it was their “time” but because they did not take control of their health to turn around their health challenges. I want to continue to live younger longer and I know it is a goal I can achieve. Did you know that the personal risk for developing major diseases and severe health problems is 20% genetics and 80% lifestyle? That means 80% of our future health is determined by us!
I just recently had a cut on my arm and was amazed at how quickly it healed. Inflammation is actually a product of our immune system and is our body’s protective response to injury, dangerous bacteria, viruses, or toxins. It actually is a part of that healthy immune response to prevent those dangerous invaders from taking over our bodies. So what causes the negative inflammation to occur which is at the root of so many of our chronic illnesses?
Inflammation in various parts of the body can occur over many years, creating damage in the heart, the brain, our nerves, digestive system, bones, and joints or more. We can actually control inflammation just with the right diet. Did you know that fat cells increase inflammation and bring on accelerated aging? With obesity at such an epidemic state at this time, just by practicing prevention and avoiding foods that contain the proteins that can spark the inflammatory response in our bodies such as high-carb/high grain, low-fat foods, (a typical fast-food meal) could make a real difference in someone’s life. Diabetes, of course, falls into this as well since limiting and controlling our blood sugar can strongly affect the inflammation in our bodies.
Waist size says a great deal about how much inflammation is in the body. When we consume trans fat (found in baked goods, crackers, etc.) and excess omega 6 fats (found in grains, vegetable oils, and grain-fed meat) without enough omega 3 fatty acids to hold the omega 6 fats in the proper ratio, the body turns the omega 6 fats into excess arachidonic acid, which is highly inflammatory. Both trans fats and excess omega 6 fats encourage the storage of body fat, primarily in the abdomen. If a woman has a waist size of 35″ or more and men have 40″ or more waist size, there is a higher level of inflammation, since abdominal fat produces inflammatory chemicals in the body. Scary stuff! And it is all preventable.
I have learned that certain spices, herbs, and teas contain very special and powerful compounds that actually can fight inflammation including tumeric, basil, thyme, cloves, oregano, sage, rosemary, ginger, cinnamon, chili pepper, and cayenne. And of course, we all know the value of green, white, oolong, and rooibos tea. Just by drinking 2 cups a day can reduce inflammation significantly because they contain potent catechins, bioflavonoids, and polyphenols. Sorry – these powerful antioxidants are not in those Starbucks lattes!
So if you are looking for powerful foods that are high in anti-inflammatory fats choose these: salmon, sardines, anchovies, halibut, mackerel, tuna, grass-fed meats, free-range, organic eggs, walnuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, brazil nuts (3-4 day), pistachios, avocados, coconut, macadamia nuts, extra virgin olive oil, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds and coconut oil. Enjoy!
Other miscellaneous choices include chocolate (yes! – 70-75% more cacao), red or black grapes, kelp, shitake mushrooms (and all other mushrooms), papaya, pineapple, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, blueberries, jalapeno peppers, habanero pepper, banana pepper, chili peppers, and bone broth. Of course, there are many other healthy choices too; I have only chosen those which particularly help with that inflammation which plays such a huge role in the chronic diseases that plague so many of us.
Such a list! We should not feel deprived. If you have a sweet tooth, instead of that Dunkin Donut (filled with sugar and trans fat which will add to that inflammation) choose 2-3 pieces of dark chocolate that was mentioned above. Try having a small helping of walnuts or cashews with a little bit of chocolate thrown in. Roasted fruit is another great choice; it really brings out the sweetness of the fruit.
So the path of prevention can truly reward you. It certainly has done that for me. What path are you on?