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The Good Ones blog series is written by Wider Circle staff members who bring together neighbors for better health every day. March is National Nutrition Month, so what better time to learn a thing or two from Wider Circle group facilitator and nutrition guru, Dulce Dagda! 

When I organize nutrition talks with my Wider Circle groups, sure, they enjoy hearing tips for weight management and exchanging healthy recipes. But the topic that really makes their ears perk up? How certain foods can help you live longer. 

Here are my four favorite tips for fueling your body and feeling great for years to come:

1. Come back to earth: Return to the clean and healthy diet that most of us remember from our younger days. I can practically smell my mom’s famous “caldito de pollo” (chicken broth) just thinking about it.  Natural, real foods that come from the earth improve body composition, avoid weight gain, and help prevent high blood pressure, insulin resistance, diabetes, and all the diseases triggered by what we eat.

Today, center aisles of the grocery store are stocked with processed food, packaged or canned with preservatives, additives, artificial sweeteners, colorings, excess sodium, and thousands of new ingredients we can’t even pronounce. So do your body a favor and stick to the outside perimeters of the grocery store where you will find all the really real good stuff. 

2. Make room for micros and macros:  Micronutrients are found in vegetables and vegetable juices, not fruit. They contain the ever-important antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals — like vitamin B6, C and E, magnesium, and zinc. Our bodies require small amounts of these nutrients to help fight free radicals that are generated by the simple act of living, but can cause imbalances in the body and can contribute to aging. 

For older adults, the most important macronutrients, which the body requires in larger amounts than micronutrients, are proteins and fats.  A great choice of protein and fat is fish rich in Omega-3s, like salmon, sardines, or mackerel. Or walnuts and seeds for non-fish lovers. 

3. Go organic when you can: Organic and non-GMO foods are free of pesticides and herbicides, the chemicals that cause failures in hormonal and metabolic functioning. When you find organic items on sale, stock up and store them in your freezer. I like to freeze my organic vegetables and fruit in individual serving size zip-lock baggies and put them in my smoothies! 

4. Give IF a go: There is some good scientific evidence suggesting that intermittent fasting (IF), when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can be a particularly effective approach to weight loss, especially for people at risk for diabetes. There are a few different IF methods, but I find that the easiest one to stick to is the “16/8” method: Avoid eating 14–16 hours and keep your daily eating window to 8–10 hours (eg, between 7 am to 3 pm, or 10 am to 6 pm). Work with your physician or nutrition counselor to come up with an IF plan that’s right for you.  

It may be true that upon reaching a certain age we are at greater risk for more diseases and health issues, but with the right fuel in our bodies and a bit of exercise each day, we can certainly increase our chances of living longer and feeling better. Happy eating! 

Ready for more “Good Ones”?

Check out last month’s blog: 8 Great Tips for a Healthier Heart.  

 

The information included in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.

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Dulce Dagda joined Wider Circle in 2018.  When she is not busy organizing health and nutrition events for her Los Angeles chapter members, she enjoys health and fitness podcasting, and freelance journalism. Dulce is a NACF-certified nutrition coach, and holds a Masters in Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Safety from Universidad Nebrija. You can reach her at dulce@widercircle.com