Cheat Sheet

Healthy Aging For Dummies

From Healthy Aging For Dummies by Brent Agin, MD, Sharon Perkins

It’s never too late (or too early) to start taking care of yourself. Cut out unhealthy practices and include nutritious foods in your diet. Add a few supplements to ward off disease and keep your body running well. Review some formulas to figure out your optimum weight and to know now how many calories you should burn to live a longer life.

Ten Healthy Habits

You can’t prevent the passage of time, but making smart life choices can control some of the risk factors associated with illness and disease. Some simple choices may have the most profound impact on your health. Follow these tips and you’re on the path to preventing disease and living a long life:

  • If you smoke, stop!

  • Maintain a healthy body weight, as determined by your BMI.

  • Exercise daily for 30 minutes.

  • Eat five or more servings of fruits or vegetables daily.

  • Avoid refined sugars and starches.

  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation (no more than two drinks per day for men, one per day for women).

  • Keep your blood pressure under control.

  • Have your cholesterol checked yearly.

  • Keep your blood sugar in normal range.

  • Have a mammogram/prostate check yearly.

A Health-Promoting Grocery List

Put the following foods on your grocery list; they have properties that promote health and boost your immune system (which weakens as you age):

  • Blueberries

  • Broccoli

  • Dark chocolate

  • Egg whites (any way you like ’em)

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Fish with omega-3 fatty acids

  • Green tea

  • Mozzarella string cheese

  • Nuts

  • Oats

  • Soy foods

  • Strawberries

  • Tomatoes

  • Vinaigrette salad dressing

  • Whole wheat pasta

  • Yogurt

Health Boosting Supplements

Taken with a nutritious diet, supplements can improve and maintain your overall health as you age. So when you stock up the medicine cabinet, try a few of these supplements to boost nutrition, ward off illnesses, and slow the aging process.

Supplement Benefit
Fish oil Lowers cholesterol
Probiotics Support colon, intestinal, vaginal health
Saw palmetto Promotes prostate health
Calcium Strengthens bones
Glucosamine and chondroitin Aid in joint health; lessen arthritis pain
Melatonin Promotes sleep
Chromium Helps manage insulin health and blood sugar levels
Calcium and magnesium Control heartburn
Coenzyme Q10 Supports cardiac health
Zinc Reduces the severity and duration of the common cold

Healthy Formulas to Remember

Carrying around extra pounds not only feels uncomfortable and contributes to illness, it can actually take years off your life. The good news is that shedding the extra weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can add years to your life. Keep these formulas handy to figure out the amount of fat in your food, how to determine a healthy weight, and the amount of calories you need to lose the pounds and keep them off:

To calculate the fat percentage of food

You want 30 percent or less of your total daily calorie intake to come from fat (less than 10 percent from saturated fats). To calculate the percentage of fat, you need to know the calories per serving and total grams of fat per serving. One gram of fat has 9 calories, and the total fat grams will be on the food label.

  1. 1. Multiply the number of fat grams by 9.

  2. 2. Divide this number by the total calories per serving.

  3. 3. Multiply by 100.

The result is the percentage of fat calories in the food. Note: A food has to have less than 30 percent of its calories from fat to be considered “low fat.”

To calculate your body mass index

Your body mass index (BMI) is an approximate measure of body fat based on your height and weight. The BMI is an approximation and is used as a tool to assess body weight and identify overweight and obese individuals.

  1. 1. Calculate your weight in kilograms: # of lbs × 0.454 (kg/lb) = # of kg

  2. 2. Calculate your height in meters: # of inches ×× 0.0254 (meters/inch) = # of meters

  3. Divide your weight (in kilograms) by your height (in meters) squared.

To determine your basal metabolic rate

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of calories you’d burn if you stayed in bed all day. Calculations are different for men and women:

  • Adult male: 66 + (6.3 × body weight in lbs.) + (12.9 × height in inches) – (6.8 × age in years)

  • Adult female: 65 + (4.3 × weight in lbs.) + (4.7 × height in inches) – (4.7 × age in years)

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