With a background in chemistry and engineering, I’ve had a fascination with the “chemical engineering” power of nutrition to keep our bodies strong, healthy, and youthful. In engineering, a core concept is that what goes in to a system determines the possible outcomes of that system (in this case, the human body). Stated very simply… You are what you eat!
Here’s the truth. Your potential for health is ALWAYS limited by any nutrient deficiency in your body. It is impossible to reach your body’s health potential if proper nutrients are no where to be found. In fact, researchers define nutrient deficiencies according to the health problems that occur in those deficient of that vitamin, mineral, or other nutrient.
What enters our body determines which chemical reactions can occur (metabolism), what structures can be built and maintained (muscle, bone, etc) and our potential for a sense of well-being (energy levels, mood, motivation, etc).
In fact, excellent nutrition is the single most essential factor for excellent health.
If nutrition is deficient, there is ZERO chance for optimum health. If nutrition is ideal for your needs, you are setting the stage to enjoy truly excellent health.
Research confirms that the typical American diet is woefully inadequate of essential nutrients. One of the unfortunate results is the loss of bone (osteopenia) and muscle (sarcopenia) that occurs frequently with age. Calcium, magnesium, amino acids (from adequate quality protein), boron, and vitamin D are just a few of the nutrients that are mandatory for strong bones and muscles. Deficiencies of these and other key nutrients are entirely unnecessary. We know and have known for years that nutritional deficiencies over time are at the core of these and other common health problems. You and I don’t have to go there!
If we start by early to mid adulthood with proper nutrition and activity, much of the loss of bone and muscle can be avoided. If starting later in life, problems can often be reversed or minimized. Many men and women have the beginning stages of osteopenia (bone loss) and sarcopenia (muscle loss) in their 50’s or earlier. The result is loss of energy, a slower metabolism, and progressive gain of weight with age (especially abdominal weight). If you are like me, you want to take steps now so that you do not participate in the epidemic of malnutrition and its impact on strength, metabolism, and health.
Here are 2 mandatory principles that I recommend for healthy aging:
Recommendation #1: Get your Essential Nutrients daily!
This one is a “no-brainer”. 7-10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, protein-rich meals and snacks, olive oil, ocean caught fish, nuts and seeds are a great foundation. However, to assure intake of all essential micronutrients on a daily basis, consider our Essential Nutrient Package, or a similar daily nutrient supplement plan. Protein-rich Meal Replacements can be a great protein strategy for nutritious meals on the go, a time-efficient breakfast, and daily snacks.
Recommendation #2: Maintain your physical activity level as you age.
You know this is the right thing to do, right? Humans’ activity levels decline, on average, every year. Older people are just not as active as they were when younger. Fight inactivity with your daily routine. I recommend daily fitness time of at least 9 minutes every day as a routine. Become sweaty, short of breath, with mild to moderate exertion for at least 9 minutes every day, knowing more is obviously better (like 20-35 minutes).
In addition, track your steps daily. Set your daily minimum (5,000 to 10,000 is appropriate for most, depending on health limitations). Track steps with a pedometer or electronic activity tracker. Don’t allow your daily goal to drop as the years creep along. Keep your daily routine consistent. Strength training for your muscles two or more days a week also has powerful anti-aging effects.
Nutrition truly is the single most essential and powerful driving force for optimum health. Think about it. It is impossible to enjoy optimum health if nutritional deficiencies are present. Get your nutrients! Then, keep your body active to stimulate bone and muscle strength over time. These simple principles will help protect you from the epidemic of weak bones and muscles that is happening all around us.
And remember, Optimum Health is ALWAYS worth the effort.
For Optimum Health,
Rick Tague, M.D., M.P.H.