Today I spoke to a group of people about eating for better health. My goal was to tell them that eating the right foods can give you more energy and can actually increase longevity.
When you talk about longevity to a group of older people, you have to discuss disease, because, ultimately, we all succumb to disease unless you're one of the very fortunate to have good genes and simply die of old age. But, in America, more people die of disease than old age, so I decided to focus my research on disease and health (nutrition).
The more research I did, the more I became intrigued by the socio-economic, cultural and geographic factors affecting "health" and nutrition.The United States is an affluent nation. We enjoy a high standard of living, earn more wages, have a higher standard of education, and, generally speaking, have an amazing infrastructure that allows access to food (both good and bad). Yet, we are a country with disease on the rise. If we are afforded so much by money, education and access, the decline of our health (and rise of disease) must, therefore, be a choice.
We are indeed a nation rich in so many ways - yet other "less rich" nations have less preventable disease. These preventable diseases, called lifestyle diseases, include heart disease, certain cancers, autoimmune disease, and diabetes to name just a few. If we changed our diets alone, we could reverse the statistics on disease. We could actually decrease disease in this country! We could therefore, improve our health! By making better choices, with regard to nutrition, we can live healthier, and thus, live longer.
Probably the number one factor is not what we should eat, but what we should not eat.
In general, we need to avoid highly processed foods and fast foods, which are laden with refined flours, sugars, oils and salts - all of which have been correlated to an increase in disease. You can take steps immediately to reduce your intake, and thus improve your health. Eat in more, eat out less. Eat well even in social situations and family get togethers. Eat whole foods (single ingredients), avoiding sauces, condiments and fancy recipes. Buy organic and/or fresh. Buy the best that you can afford. Read labels and know what goes into your food.