The legend of the fountain of youth has been around for thousands of years. From ancient Greek myths to modern movies such as “Pirates of the Caribbean,” the narrative of the search for the fountain of youth captivates the minds of audiences young and old. The question of whether the fountain truly exists has yet to be determined, but there are other ways to maintain a youthful body and mind.
Instead of focusing on quick fixes for those signs of aging, focus your attention on making lifestyle changes that will benefit you for the rest of your life. We age along a continuum, rather than all of a sudden. Getting adequate levels of nutrients throughout life is an important step toward maintaining youthfulness. There are multiple supplements on the market that claim to have the power to reduce wrinkles, boost memory and aid in fat loss. What many people do not realize is that supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, so information given about each supplement (including information on the label) is not always backed up by conclusive research. What you think you are taking might be much more or less of a nutrient than is actually in the supplement. Should you decide to take supplements, talk to your doctor and registered dietitian before taking them – supplements, even herbal supplements, can have negative effects on their users.
So how do you obtain youth and get the right nutrients without the help of the fountain or supplements? It is as simple as the foods you choose to eat. If you eat to stay young, you will. What types of foods should you choose? The United States Department of Agriculture’s new MyPlate is a great place to start. It divides our plates into four different food groups, vegetables, fruits, protein and grains with a side of dairy included. To get the vitamins and minerals your body needs to remain youthful follow these simple tips:
Divide your plate in half
1) Instead of filling half of it with rice, pasta, potato or other cars, fill half with vegetables and fruits.
2) Instead of making meat the central point of the meal, be sure that it only takes up ¼ of your plate (around 3 ounces – deck of cards). Choose lean cuts of meat, pork, chicken or fish. Beans are a nutrient packed substitute for any meat. Quinoa and Chia seeds are new high protein foods that can be substituted for meat as well.
3) Instead of processed grains, make at least half of your grains whole with whole wheat bread and tortillas, brown rice, oatmeal or popcorn.
4) Instead of high fat dairy products, choose fat free or low fat dairy such as cheese, yogurt and milk.
5) Limit foods that are highly processed and contain excess saturated and trans fats.
6) Limit sugar-sweetened beverages. Drink plenty of water.
7) Choose foods that contain lower sodium.
8) Enjoy your food…you are what you eat!
For more information visit www.choosemyplate.gov