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Resolutions for the New Year


Last updated 11/1/2018 at Noon

Thanksgving is around the corner. That means it’s almost time for the holiday season. Which means confronting that annual task of making your New Year’s resolutions.

We are all another year older, so it’s not unusual for aging to work its way into our deliberations. How are we feeling? Are we doing all that we can to stay healthy and be ready for those trips and projects that we continue to put off?

This year’s columns focused on strategies to decrease our odds of falling victim to the four major diseases of modern life - heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and dementia. It seemed the ideal time for a summary in case you needed help jump starting the resolution planning.

And just like your IRA, making changes early, investing some energy in your 30s and 40s, leverages the benefits with greater rewards than you’ll get putting things off until that AARP invitation arrives in the mail.

Your first resolution should be: “No more procrastination.”

Smoking remains the number one cause of morbidity (illness) and mortality (death) in the US. If you are still taking an occasional puff, this is an easy number two for the list.

Recent work suggests there is no completely risk free level of alcohol intake, and previous suggestions of a small health benefit from a drink a day were most likely wishful thinking. Health risks go up more quickly after that first drink, so moderation should be the goal.

Loss of your muscles accelerates with aging, but resistance exercise (lifting heavy objects) decreases the rate of loss.

Stress your heart and you will not only decrease the risks of developing coronary artery disease, but you will be able to do more with those disappearing muscles.

Diet is a much more complex issue. Here are several common components in all healthy eating plans.

- Get rid of sugar. More and more evidence indicates sugar is more harmful to your health than either salt or fats.

- Replace red meat with fish, whole grains, and vegetable side dishes. Your microbiome will love the extra fiber.

- Don’t skimp on protein. As we get older we need more, not less, protein. The inadequate daily protein intake of the elderly on limited incomes is a significant factor in their muscle loss.

- Use more healthy oils - olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, walnut oil, flaxseed oil, or chia seed oil. Oily fish such as Salmon provide the especially healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Social interaction is the final piece. Keep in touch with close friends. Go to church. Volunteer. Play bridge. These connections are important to keep your mind healthy and your spirits up.

So there you have it, the secrets to not only living longer, but living better - aging well. A healthy diet, regular exercise, no smoking, and alcohol in moderation.

Need a few more specific resolutions?

Eliminate sugar from your diet. I’d make this number three on your must do list. It will be a challenge. Sugar is addicting and the first 2 weeks will be hard. But the health rewards are huge.

Cut your red meat portions in half, or better yet consider two meatless meals a week (fish can count as “meatless”)

Fifteen or twenty minutes of dedicated exercise a day. For the week, three days of resistance exercise and four days of vigorous walking or biking to the point you feel short of breath.

Happy and Healthy New Year.

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