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Notice: This book is intended as a reference volume only, not as a medical manual. The information given here is designed to help you make
informed decisions about your health. It is not intended as a substitute
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suspect that you have a medical problem, we urge you to seek competent
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Copyright 2012 by Lynn Sonberg.
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step 1
Make Age-Defying Food Choices

Would you be willing to change your eating habits today,

right now, if you knew the modifications you made could extend your life by ten healthy years or more? Okay, no one can
guarantee you will live a longer, healthier life if you put down
the doughnuts and French fries and go for the fresh fruit and
baked potato with fresh herbs. But taking such a step is a terrific start, and one that is supported by lots of research. Its
hard to ignore the scores of scientific studies, Internet articles,
TV shows, and newspaper reports about the health benefits of
a balanced, nutritious diet, even though they do share media
time and space with fast-food commercials and stories about
people eating deep-fried butter sticks and chocolate bars at
the state fair. But deep down, you know the formerand not
the latteris the road to a fuller, healthier life.
If you are serious about wanting to live a longer, more
physically and mentally active life, then it is absolutely essential that you provide your body and mind with the best fuel
possible. You are probably like most people: you have a pretty
good idea of what you should be eating, but you could use some
encouragement, tips, and guidelines that will make your dietary changes as delicious, convenient, and painless as possible.
You could go to a bookstore or library and peruse the
nutrition or diet section. But the sheer volume of options is
enough to send anyone running to the nearest fast-food


restaurant. Thats why this chapter takes a no-nonsense approach and talks about choices that are sensible, doable,
convenient, and backed by science.
The age-defying food suggestions in this chapter are ones
you can follow for the rest of your life without feeling like
youre on a diet, because you wont be: youll be living with an
eating plan that revitalizes you every day. It will also be a program you construct for yourself from the recommendations,
so the end result will be Your Plan. If you need to lose weight,
then you can combine what you learn here with guidelines
from Step 2. If excess weight is not a problem, then you get
to skip to Step 3 once you have created your eating plan.
Included is a discussion of the pros and cons of calorie restriction, tips on how to eat out sensibly, and some simple, agedefying recipes that you can prepare in ten minutes or less.

Of the thousands of eating plans, diet programs, and fad diets

out there, only a few have any scientific evidence to back up
their claims that they can help you challenge the aging process
and the diseases and health conditions typically associated with
getting older. I have chosen four approaches that are backed
with clinical studies and research: the Okinawa diet, the Mediterranean diet, guidelines from the American Institute for
Cancer Research (AICR), and the eating program by Dean
Ornish, MD, president of Preventive Medicine Research Institute and author of Dr. Dean Ornishs Program for Reversing
Heart Disease. Although these age-challenging eating approaches come from different places around the world, they
share common features, which will become evident as you
read about them, and these common elements make it easy
to use them as a basis to create your own personal eating program. Here are the features of the four eating styles.
The Okinawa diet is based on the food habits of the
Okinawan people, who are among the longest-living


people in the world. Although lifestyle (including

daily exercise), environmental factors, and genetics
also play a part in their longevity, diet is a major factor. The diet consists primarily (about 72 percent) of
vegetables (lots of dark green vegetables and sweet
potatoes), fruits, and whole grains. Seaweed and soy
make up about 14 percent, fish about 11 percent, and
meat, poultry, and eggs just 3 percent. Green tea and
water are the main beverages, and alcohol consumption is moderate (one drink for women, two for men
daily). Dairy products are rarely eaten.
The Mediterranean diet has been widely studied and
noted for reducing the risk of overall and cardiovascular death and cancer and cancer death and
lower incidences of Alzheimers disease and Parkinsons disease. Similar to the Okinawa diet, it focuses on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as the
main portion of the diet, but it also includes beans,
legumes, nuts, seeds, and olive oil as major items.
Fish and seafood are recommended at least twice a
week, while poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt are
recommended in moderate amounts daily to weekly
and meat and sweets less often.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR)
advocates a primarily plant-based eating approach
and has a program called the New American Plate,
which encourages people to look at their plate and
change the proportions of food as well as the portions. The goal is to create your plate so that it is
composed of two-thirds or more vegetables, fruits,
whole grains, and/or beans and one-third or less
animal protein. The AICRs expert report, Food,
Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of
Cancer: A Global Perspective, found that a primarily plant-based diet may reduce the risk of cancer and
other chronic diseases and also help manage weight.



The eating program proposed by Dean Ornish,

MD, is based on a large amount of research indicating that diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease and that
following his eating plan can reverse heart disease.
The plan is based on eating 70 to 75 percent of calories as complex carbohydrates, 15 to 20 percent as
protein, and 10 percent as fat (primarily polyunsaturated fat). You can indulge in vegetables, fruits,
whole grains, and legumes in unlimited amounts,
avoiding all meat and dairy products except egg
whites, nonfat milk, and nonfat yogurt, strictly limiting plant foods high in fat (e.g., nuts, seeds, avocados, vegetable oils), and consuming salt, sugar, and
alcohol in moderation.
Before you put together your own age-defying eating
plan, heres a quick explanation of the main components of
these four eating approaches and why each is important as
part of an age-defying plan.
Antioxidants and Other Nutrients

Perhaps the most important feature shared by all of the four

eating plans is the abundance of foods rich in phytonutrients
(nutrients from plants) and antioxidants, including vitamins
and minerals. Antioxidants are substances that attack and
destroy free radicals, the oxygen molecules that play a key
role in the aging process and in the onset of diseases associated with aging, such as heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis,
and Alzheimers disease.
As you get older, your body becomes more susceptible to
attack by free radicals, which results in oxidative stress,
meaning you have too many free radicals that can damage
your cells. To fight those free radicals, you need to maintain



a high intake of antioxidants. Antioxidants can help slow

aging at the cellular level by helping your cells avoid or
minimize damage from free radicals and reduce the effects
of aging.
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants,
and the fresher the better. You are encouraged to choose
organic produce over conventionally grown, and frozen over
canned. Because fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can
range quite widely in their antioxidant power level, eat a big
variety. (See the Antioxidant Power Food List below.)
Antioxidant Power Food List

The antioxidant values of foods are expressed in units called

ORACs (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacities), which
were developed by the National Institute on Aging. The values are based on a 100-gram (3.5-oz.) sample, and the higher
the value, the stronger the antioxidant capabilities of the
food. However, it is important to remember that the ORAC
value is just one measure of a foods value for your health.
Foods contain vitamins and minerals besides antioxidants,
as well as carbs, protein, and fiber.
Spices are generally exceedingly high in ORAC value.
Ihave only included a few spices, because chances are slim
you will consume 3.5 ounces of spices as part of a meal.
However, because spices have very potent antioxidant powers, it is a great idea to include them in your eating plan to
not only liven up your food but also give a real boost to your
fight against free radicals and aging.

Dried oregano: 175,295


Ground turmeric:
127,068 (6,053/tsp)

Ground cinnamon:
131,420 (6,260/tsp)

Acai berries: 102,700



Unsweetened baking
chocolate: 49,944

Cabbage, red boiled:


Black raspberries: 19,220

Lettuce, red leaf raw:


Pecans: 17,940
Elderberries: 14,697
English walnuts: 13,541

Oats, instant dry:

Black beans, boiled:

Golden raisins: 10,450

Oat bran: 2,183
Hazelnuts: 9,645
Broccoli, boiled: 2,160
Blueberries (wild): 9,621
Cranberries: 9,090
Prunes, uncooked: 8,059

Bread, multigrain/whole
grain: 1,421
Green tea, brewed:

Lentils, raw: 7,282

And at the lowest end:
Plums: 6,100
Tomatoes: 387
Pomegranates: 4,479
Eggplant, boiled: 245
Almonds: 4,454
Zucchini: 180
Strawberries: 4,302
Watermelon: 142
Apple, Granny Smith
with skin: 4,275

Cucumber, peeled: 140



Foods That Fight Inflammation

An effective antiaging eating plan includes not only lots

of antioxidants but a good amount of anti-inflammatory
foods as well. Conveniently, many foods that are high in
antioxidants also fight inflammation, especially fruits and
vegetables, as well as cold-water fish, which are an excellent source of the healthy fat called omega-3 fatty acids.
(See Fats.)
Inflammation speeds up the aging process and is also a
contributing factor in heart disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and other serious conditions associated with
aging. Therefore, you want to focus on foods that have
anti-inflammatory properties rather than those that promote inflammation. Since the four eating plans stress antiinflammatory foods and recommend you limit or avoid those
that can promote inflammation, such as red meat, full-fat
dairy, processed foods, and sugars, basing your eating program on this approach will ensure you get plenty of antiinflammatory foods.
Some of the most potent anti-inflammatory foods are:
Vegetables in the Allium genus: garlic, onions,
chives, shallots, and scallions
Beans and lentils
Nuts and seeds
Yogurt and kefir




Proteins are a macronutrient and the building blocks necessary for the production of cells, organs, muscles, and other
tissues. Proteins also have roles as enzymes, hormones, and
Your ability to generate new protein and to absorb protein from food may decline as you get older, depending on
your health. If you have a chronic disease, such as arthritis or heart disease, then your protein needs may be greater
than if you were in better health. However, that does not
mean you should arbitrarily increase your protein intake,
because excess protein can stress the kidneys and cause a
problem with kidney function. Your best bet is to talk to a
knowledgeable health- care professional about your specific protein needs based on your health status.
Generally, adults need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram
(2.2 lbs.) of body weight per day to maintain health. That
translates into 48 grams of protein daily if you weigh 132
pounds and 60 grams daily if you weigh 165 pounds.
Each of these eating plans focuses on plant protein rather
than animal protein, although the latter does play a role. The
most common question about plant protein is, Dont I have
to eat certain foods together to make sure I get complete
protein? The answer is no: your body is smart enough to
combine complementary proteins that you eat within the
same day. That means the amino acids in the quinoa you eat
for breakfast, the chickpeas in your salad at lunch, and the
soy burger at dinner will get together and make the protein you need. (See Sources of Protein.) Animal protein
takes a backseat in an age-defying diet, although it is still in
the car if you want it to be!


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