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The Age Well
Autumn, 2010
Eat Well To Age Well

While there are many differing opinions on what diets are best for weight loss, there is little debate that what we eat has a significant impact on our health and well-being.  Dr. Everett Kopp, a former Surgeon General, stated in his 1988 Report on Nutrition and Health that, "For the two out of three adult Americans who do not smoke and do not drink excessively, one personal choice seems to influence long-term health prospects more than any other:  what we eat."  And so, this issue of The Age Well will focus on nourishing our bodies. 


Currently there is strong consensus on the following basic nutritional principles:


1.    Eat a diet rich in a variety of foods since

      no one food or category of food provides

      all our nutritional needs.

2.    Eat "whole foods" as much as possible

      which means eating foods that are less

      processed and would have been readily

      identifiable by your grandmother.  Another

      way to think about this is to shop primarily

      from the outside aisles of the grocery

      store (fresh fruits, vegetables, breads,

      dairy, fish and meats).

3.    Reduce consumption of fats, particularly

      saturated and trans fats.  Substitute with

      healthy monounsaturated and

      polyunsaturated fats as well as omega-3

      fatty acids (seafood, plant oils and nuts).  

4.    Decrease meat consumption and other

      animal products (eggs, dairy) and

      substitute with other plant-based sources

      of protein (legumes, nuts and soy


5.    Increase consumption of fruits and

      vegetables to 6-8 servings per day.

6.    Control portion size and calorie intake to

      maintain a healthy weight.

7.    Incorporate as many "superfoods" (foods

      considered the most nutritious because

      they have been scientifically proven to

      have powerful health benefits) as possible

      in your diet.  Check out a list of

      "superfoods" on the Age Well Be Well



These basic guidelines facilitate weight loss, lower cholesterol levels and provide adequate nutrients for your daily needs.  At a biochemical level they reduce oxidative stress and inflammation that contribute both to the aging process and diseases associated with aging.  These guidelines also improve arterial elasticity, insulin sensitivity, and blood pressure, helping prevent heart disease, cancer and diabetes.


Learning about each of these principles and developing strategies for incorporating them into your lifestyle is a challenge worth taking.  In addition to improving longevity, investments in nutritional health will benefit the quality of your daily life almost immediately.  Benefits include increased energy levels, weight management and a stronger immune system meaning less susceptibility to colds and infections. 


The best way to assess how well you are infusing these guidelines into your lifestyle is to do a diet recall for at least a few days and preferably a week.  I last did this exercise myself last summer and was surprised to discover that I wasn't eating as many fruits and vegetables as I thought or getting enough fiber in my diet.  I made a few simple changes to get on track. 


First, I began monitoring my daily intake of these foods.  I did this by simply keeping a sheet in the kitchen where I could make tally marks each time I ate a fruit, vegetable or source of fiber.  It was interesting to see how effective this simple technique worked, motivating me with very tangible and visible feedback. 


Second, I added ground flax seed to my routine.  Flax seeds are a wonderful source of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.  They have a mild nutty flavor and once ground can easily be added to cereals, yogurts, salads, soups and even baked muffins, cookies and breads.  I aim for adding two tablespoons a day.  To get the most benefit from the omega-3 fatty acids, you must grind the seeds freshly for each serving.  This is because the omega-3 fatty acids are contained in the oils that are expressed when the seeds are ground and this oil evaporates quickly.  It is also important to keep the seeds fresh by storing them in the freezer. 


If you are interested in improving the quality of your life and enhancing your longevity, enhancing your nutrition is one of the most important investments you can make.  Deciding what changes to make and figuring out how to best integrate them into your lifestyle can be challenging.  Call or email us to discover how Age Well Be Well can support your desire to eat well and age well. 

Toss A Coin In The Well . . .
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This column gives readers an opportunity to respond to an interesting question in each issue. 

You can send your "coins" to me by email (E-mail Paula) and I will include a sample of reader responses in my next newsletter.  Or better yet -- add comments to my related blog on the Age Well Be Well  website.

This Issue's Question Is:

What is your favorite vegetarian recipe? 


I will share three of my favorites:  easy lunch and dinner ideas that I have weekly and a wonderful salad first prepared for me by my niece, Nicki.  Nicki decided a few years ago to become a vegetarian and has been cooking a weekly meal with my parents introducing them to some great vegetarian options.  I have asked Nicki to share her experiences in "No Brainers" since it is becoming quite clear that eating more veggies and less meat is just that, a no brainer!

See Paula's Blog for her answer to this question -- you may find some surprises!

Founder's Forum

Each edition, Paula will answer questions submitted from the community.  To Submit a question to Age Well Be Well "The Founder's Forum", e-mail me at

Is dark chocolate really good for you?

Dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids, a substance that protects plants from environmental toxins and helps in repairing cellular damage.  When we eat plant-based foods like dark chocolate that are concentrated in flavonoids, we also benefit from this same protective mechanism.  This antioxidant property helps our bodies resist damage caused by the free radicals that are byproducts of our energy production processes.  When we lack adequate levels of antioxidants, damage from free radicals contributes to many common age-related diseases including high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease.  Research also suggests that the specific flavanoids in cocoa and dark chocolate have other heart healthy benefits.  These include lowering blood pressure and cholesterol as well as improving blood flow to the brain and heart and reducing clot formation.  

Unfortunately most of the chocolates we currently see on the market are highly processed to remove the pungent taste.  As cocoa is processed, the flavanoid is lost. In addition, most chocolate-based products have added fat and sugars.   Recently, manufactures have been focusing on ways to produce better tasting chocolates that maintain high levels of flavanoids.  For now, look for dark chocolate with high cocoa content and cocoa powder that has not been Dutch processed.  While we don't know yet how much chocolate is ideal to produce the antioxidant benefits, we do know eating a small quantity (one ounce) a few times a week is truly a healthy treat!

Why is red wine "heart healthy"?

Red wine (as well as dark beer and grape juice) also contains high levels of flavanoids and provides the benefits discussed above related to chocolate.  Resveratrol is a plant compound found in red wine that has been heavily researched because it is a powerful antioxidant that has been linked to longevity and reduced heart disease.   This has led some experts to recommend alcohol consumption (one to two drinks per day for adult men and one drink per day for adult women).  It is still not clear whether

concentrating resveratrol in a pill form has the same benefits. 

Book Review
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    Food Matters
      By:  Mark Bittman

In Food Matters, Mark Bittman describes the personal epiphany that helped motivate changes in his eating habits and improve his health.  His transformation was initiated the moment he realized that a change in his eating habits could not only improve his health but also benefit the environment.   Because global livestock production is responsible for about one-fifth of all greenhouse gases, eating more plant-based foods and less animal products suddenly made sense on many levels.  In the author's words, "If I told you that a simple lifestyle choice could help you lose weight, reduce your risk of many long-term or chronic diseases, save you real money, and help stop global warming, I imagine you'd be intrigued."  The beauty of Bittman's analysis is that it not only makes sense on multiple levels, but the simplicity of the changes he suggests are very reasonable.  He doesn't advocate vegetarianism but instead suggests eating whole foods that are plant-based for breakfast, lunch and snacks.  Then at dinner he recommends eating whatever you want.  While I'm not sure this approach would work for everyone, it has worked for him and is quite compelling.  If you need any additional incentive to eat a more plant-based diet, Bittman's book is a perfect resource for both motivation and helpful suggestions on meal planning. 

"A No Brainer"

As the name suggests, these are strategies or lifestyle choices that undoubtedly make sense because they are well researched and have a significant impact on wellness.  Each issue will highlight one of these strategies.

Cut Down On Meat . . .
Explore What Else
You Can Eat.
By Nicki Cherry


Two years ago, I made the rather spontaneous decision to become a vegetarian. After observing my vegetarian friend, I wondered whether I was capable of cutting meat out of my diet. I also knew it would be healthy and environmentally friendly. My choice to go meat-free is one of the best of my life: I have been immensely happy with my vegetarian lifestyle ever since. As a consequence, I have indeed been far more healthy and have met a multitude of new, exciting foods. 


Upon becoming vegetarian, many of the most over-consumed foods in America are closed off; one can no longer eat caloric, often jumbo sized hamburgers, steaks, and fried chicken. In lieu of these dishes, there are thousands of varieties of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables to explore. There's the familiar such as strawberries and onions, and there's also the exotic such as kumquats and bok choy. Nuts and soy products provide an ample source of protein. Although I was initially worried that vegetarianism would limit my choices, I have since found that the options for meat-free foods is quite limitless. I have never been bored. 


Becoming a vegetarian can be a big lifestyle change; however, I have learned that such a diet makes one feel healthier and enjoy food more. I now appreciate the nourishment the earth provides. Though a vegetarian diet is not right for everyone, I encourage all to try cutting down on the meat and explore what else there is to eat!

Research Highlights
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China Study

The China Project is the largest nutritional research study ever done and strongly supports the importance of decreasing animal product consumption and increasing plant food consumption.  This study was a collaborative effort between Cornell University, Oxford University and the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine.  It shows a strong link between meat consumption, chronic disease (especially diabetes and heart disease), obesity and cancer.   Dr. T. Colin Campbell, one of the project's directors published a book, The China Study, in 2005 reviewing the study's major findings. 


Link to  The China Study

(or copy and paste the following into your browser)


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I hope you enjoyed this issue of The Age Well.  Please take a moment to forward this issue along to family and friends so we can expand our Age Well Be Well  community. 

Age Well and Be Well,
Paula Koppel
In This Issue
Eat Well
To Age Well

Toss A Coin
In The Well

Founder's Forum

Book Review

"A No Brainer"

Research Highlights

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