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Fifteen Fast Facts about Foods and Fitness

by Dr. Don Rose, Writer, Life Alert

This article keeps its sections short and sweet � but no sweets, thank you, since the facts below are all about foods and fitness. Eager to hear ideas on how to eat to get fit, facts about fat, myths to dismiss, and more? Read on.

1. Food Isn�t Just Fuel � It�s Age-Avoiding Ammunition
To some people, food is fuel and that�s it. Calories to keep you chugging along and keep your stomach quiet. Or, food may be used to soothe emotional pain, which is the last reason one should eat, but that�s another article. The point is, eating can be viewed in different ways by different people, yet one benefit of food that is often overlooked is its use as a protector against age-related problems that we all wish to avoid. Yes, the main purpose of what we eat is to provide us with essential energy to live, but as we age the beneficial effects that certain foods have on our bodies increase in importance.

In other words, we don�t just want to exist, we want to thrive. Our main goal is to live, but a better goal is to live longer and healthier. Almost any food can help you in the basic goal of existing, but to thrive we need to get smarter and consume particular types of foods. Protecting against wrinkles, increasing memory power, helping to avert illness � all these effects and more can be achieved with the help of an optimized diet.
2. Fitness Foods May Cost More, but Save Money in the Long Run
By using our diet in smarter ways, we can potentially avoid or delay the ravages of disease (heart disease, stroke, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc). So, if you need to pay a little more now for healthier foods, don�t sweat it; remember that you will likely save a good deal of money down the road. Food bills pale in comparison to medical bills.
3. Inflammation and Oxidation are the Twin Terrors of Aging
Nearly every age-related problem, from memory loss to brain malfunctioning to wrinkling skin, stems from these two harmful processes in the body. Eating foods with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties will help protect against both processes.
4. Fruits and Vegetables Combat Free Radical Damage
While superfoods with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties are an important part of an anti-aging eating plan, you should also include a variety of fruits and veggies in your diet. Strive to eat at least five servings a day. This will give you even more dietary weaponry to enable your body to fight off the free radicals that cause oxidation.
5. Supplements Taken with Some Foods or Medications May Be Harmful
Even though a number of foods contain vitamins and nutrients that show evidence of slowing the aging process, many people also take supplements to gain similar benefits. Some take supplements because it may be hard to get certain vitamins, minerals or other essentials via their food; others take them to get more of what they do get in their food.

Whatever the reason for taking supplements, one should always exercise caution. Before one starts taking them, it is wise to speak with a registered dietician or physician. Certain supplements, when paired with medications or other foods in the diet, can turn out to be harmful. For example, if you take blood thinning medication, you should avoid fish oil supplements because they may increase the drug�s effect.
6. Vitamin D-ficiency May be Linked to Obesity
According to a UPI report, researchers have found that getting too little Vitamin D may lead to heavier youths. A Georgia study of over 650 teens between the ages of 14 and 19 found that those who reported higher Vitamin D intakes had lower overall body fat and lower amounts of fat in the abdomen; this latter fat (referred to as visceral fat) has been associated with major health risks such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and hypertension. African-American females, who had the lowest vitamin D intake, had higher percentages of both body fat and visceral fat. Only one group � white male teens � was getting the recommended minimum intake of Vitamin D.

It is important to note that, as one researcher pointed out, this study cannot prove that higher intake of the D vitamin caused lower body fat, but they do know there is a relationship that needs to be explored in greater detail.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that adolescents get at least 400 units of Vitamin D a day, either from diet or sun exposure or a combination of the two. For years, milk has been touted as a good source of D; there are typically 100 units in an 8-ounce glass of whole milk. [2]

However, those who are lactose intolerant, vegan, or happier eating non-dairy products will find that soy milk and many other foods are also �D-licious,� containing the vitamin either naturally or as an added ingredient. Get in the habit of reading product labels and you will soon learn which foods, including non-milk products, have the most D.

So, for most folks, the tip is: get more D in your Diet, but get the facts before you try it.

7. Curcumin and Cruciferous �C-Food� Help See To It Your Colon�s Healthy
You�ve heard the old joke: �I�m on a seefood diet. I see food, I eat it.� (Easier to tell than read.) Now it turns out a �C-food� diet may help the colon, and it�s no joke. Studies have shown that curcumin and cruciferous vegetables seem to be key to a colon-healthy diet.

Turmeric, a spice used in curry and mustard (more popular in Asian and Indian diets) contains curcumin, and BBC News reported on studies that suggest greater consumption of curcumin may explain why Asian people tend to have better colon health than non-Asians. Another study, at Rutgers University, showed that curcumin promoted colon cell health and inhibited toxins. Researchers in England concluded that, in humans, curcumin may be useful in supporting the health of the large intestine.

Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower) contain high concentrations of the antioxidant sulforaphane that, like curcumin, supports the formation and maintenance of healthy colon cells.

Another colon-fortifying nutrient found in high concentrations within these C-veggies is called I3C. Researchers found that, when taken as a supplement, I3C also seems to have a positive effect on colon cell health, helping these cells combat carcinogens and toxins.

A third benefit of these C-veggies: they tend to be high in selenium. This mineral has been associated with greater cardiovascular health, but studies also show it seems to play an important role in supporting colon health. [3]

Remember: crave C-foods called curcumin and cruciferous; you�ll help your colon while eating food that�s delicious.

8. Eggs Ain�t as Bad as They�re Cracked Up To Be
We�ve heard for years that eggs are high in cholesterol and bad for us. However, there are two things to keep in mind. First, egg whites were not the culprit; they seem healthy. It�s the egg yolks that worried folks. Second, the joke�s on yolk critics, since it turns out the yellow egg centers aren�t so bad. Studies reveal that they �do not significantly raise blood cholesterol, and they�re packed with choline, which is vital for brain development.� [4]

And now, from the EGG to EGCG�
9. Tea Time�s Terrific, but Take the Right Type
Loss of nutrients is likely in any food that gets processed, and the same is true for tea. �Bottled and instant tea are very low in antioxidants� and if you want �to get disease-fighting amounts of tea�s potent antioxidant, EGCG, you must drink brewed green tea or take an EGCG supplement.� [4]
10. Bogus Belief: Bagels are Beneficial to our Bodies
Some eat bagels instead of bread, thinking they are a healthier choice. Not necessarily.

When bagels are made with healthy ingredients like whole grains, they may be okay, but most bagels tend to be unhealthy. Many are �made from processed white flour� and �low in fiber� while having �a high glycemic index, causing them to spike blood sugar and tying them to weight gain and problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.� [4]

In short, always read labels for any bagels. Picture a body-sized bagel made of fat, then picture it around your waist, and that should help remind you to bid bye-bye to bagels.

11. Raw Doesn�t Always Beat Cooked
Raw is very healthy, in general, but there are times when cooked is better. For example, �cooking vegetables often releases nutrients, such as beta carotene� � and cooking can make some foods easier to chew and/or break down in our stomachs. In addition, �flash-freezing fruits and vegetables quickly after harvest retains nutrients.� In contrast, �shipping and storing fresh produce drains nutrients.� In one surprising example, it was found that �canned tomato sauce and paste have more lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, than fresh tomatoes.� [4]
12. Coffee & Caffeine: Okay in Moderation, and May Provide Benefits
Coffee may cut the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, gallstones, colon cancer, liver damage and Parkinson�s disease. It may also boost cognitive function. But be careful. Some people can suffer a rise in headaches, anxiety and heart problems. As always, get the advice of your physician and follow it. [4]
13. No-Fat Salad Dressing: No Go
Not all fat deserves a bad rap. �Without fat, the body can�t absorb needed nutrients in � tomatoes and carrots� -- two common salad ingredients. A better salad solution: dump typical dressings in favor of olive oil (extra-virgin tends to get extra high marks) and �add cheese, nuts or avocado.� [4]
14. Keeping the Big Picture in Mind Maximizes Benefits, Minimizes Risks
Take into account all elements when designing your eating plan. There are two good reasons for this: safety and optimization. That is, you want to get the best benefits for your health, but do it with the least amount of risk. To achieve this goal, learn all you can about the foods and supplements in your diet and how they interact. Observe their impact on your body, and make adjustments as necessary. You want to eliminate or mitigate any potentially harmful interactions. Also make sure that you know how your foods and supplements interact with any medications you may be taking.
15. Books are a Great Resource for Facts about Foods and Fitness
Knowledge is power -- and can keep us from potentially harmful side effects or interactions caused by the substances we consume each day. Here are two authors who can help you learn more about the relationship between food, fitness and wellness: nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN and National Spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (co-author of "Kosher By Design Lightens Up"), and Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS (author of "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth" and "Healthiest Meals on Earth"). Both writers discuss which superfoods can help you look and feel younger. Their insights served as inspiration for parts of this article. [1]

Final Thoughts

This article presented useful facts to help us use food to improve our fitness, and avoid those that don�t. However, being in good health doesn�t mean there is never a need for extra protection at home. Emergencies can happen to anyone, at any time, and the need for extra protection increases as we age. For example, seniors are more likely than younger adults to suffer a fall � one of the leading causes of injury death for older Americans. To ensure protection in the event of an emergency, a medical alert system like Life Alert can be extremely helpful. It can even be a life saver, especially for people living alone. Just press Life Alert�s medical alert pendant if you (or someone with you) is in danger, and Life Alert can summon immediate help at any hour of the day or night, 24/7. .


[1] �What To Eat to Beat Disease and Look Younger� by Mary Kearl, AOL Health.

[2] �Lack of Vitamin D May Be Linked to Obesity,� United Press International, 2009.

[3] �Researchers Link Dietary Nutrients to Colon Cell Health� by Albert Lerner, M.D. Journal of Longevity, 2005, Vol. 11, No. 11.

[4] �6 myths that won�t die� by Jean Carper, EatSmart column, USA Weekend, May 9-11, 2008.

The information provided above is, to the best of our knowledge, reliable and accurate. However, while Life Alert always strives to provide true, precise and consistent information, we cannot guarantee 100 percent accuracy; in addition, statements contained within our articles should not be taken as medical advice. Readers are encouraged to research any statements made, use any resource links provided, and/or consult with professionals in the health and medical fields (or other areas) in order to gather more information before drawing conclusions and making decisions.

Dr. Don Rose writes books, papers and articles on computers, the Internet, AI, science and technology, and issues related to seniors.

For more information about the Life Alert medical alert system and its many benefits for the elderly as well as younger adults, please visit the following websites:








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