Let’s recap the important concepts of the last article (Nutrition (Part 1)). The first important concept is that in order to optimally perform the daily process of repairing the body and meeting its energy demands; we must eat REAL foods and eat very little industrially altered, manufactured pseudo-foods. The second is that consistently eating too much and too often is the fast track to metabolic syndrome, a fat belly, type 2 diabetes, loss of health and function and a pain-filled old age. The primary fake foods to avoid are sugar-laced goodies and anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), refined grain products, refined or hydrogenated cooking oils/fats and industrially-raised meats. Eat grass-fed livestock, free-range poultry and wild-caught fish for healthy protein and fats. Continuing with….

Strategies: The basic principles for obtaining, digesting, absorbing and assimilating all the right nutrients:

Learn sensible portion control! Modest portion size is a major part of eating correctly; never eat until you’re full. Eating only three (or less) modest meals a day is essential for fat control and muscle growth. Most people over 45 have a protruding belly; the primary cause is eating three "solid" (meaning BIG) meals a day and snacking at every twinge of hunger. A very good gauge to portion size is that your protein serving (meat, fish, fowl or vegetarian) should be about the size of the palm of your hand. The rest of the meal should not exceed that weight in total. You can go some overboard on fibrous, non-starch vegetables, but small meals are the rule; shrink your stomach to fit in your abdominal cavity without a bulge. Stop snacking between meals entirely! This one practice alone will reduce your blood sugar swings and slow the glycation mechanism of aging to a crawl.

Eat sufficient protein for the body to maintain and repair its structure! A healthy, physically active person needs 1.0 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass to grow, repair and maintain muscle and other organs. So, in these three meals, if each has palm-sized meat courses or a couple of eggs, you will not be far from the right number. Make breakfast, in particular, a protein-rich meal to keep blood sugar from spiking and to give you the materials to repair your body throughout the day. Abandon sugar-filled breakfast cereals for real foods. The bulk of each meal should be non-starchy vegetables, with nuts, legumes or starch-based foods as a minor part.

Supplement meals with Hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes; take Probiotics!Stomach acid and enzyme production decreases as we age - digestion worsens, absorption and assimilation of nutrients is less effective. Acid indigestion or heartburn is a clear sign that we are producing insufficient hydrochloric acid (HCl) and/or pepsin. It means food is staying in the stomach because it is not digesting. The problem typically is not too much acid, but too little. The media (and the medical community) will have you believe you need antacids or Prilosec to shut down acid production, but that makes protein virtually indigestible and unavailable for assimilation. Take a Betaine HCl with Pepsin capsule with any protein meal and see how much faster your meal digests, with no heartburn. There are many digestive enzyme formulations available that will make digestion a breeze. If you have frequent heartburn you are priming yourself for esophageal cancer. With proper sized meals, adequate HCl and digestive enzymes you should overcome most digestive issues, and improve virtually all bodily functions as a result of increased nutrients available at the cellular level.

The next important aid to digestion is a source of friendly intestinal bacteria or Probiotics. These bacteria are an important part of our digestive process, and create certain vitamins and enzymes for us. They play a vital role in our immune function. By their presence, they inhibit the overgrowth of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E-coli, fungi and parasites. Antibiotic use indiscriminately kills off these friendly partners and they need to be replaced after the antibiotics are finished. My favorite brand is FLORA SOURCE, and you can Google for a supplier. Most of these friendly bugs live beyond the stomach, but some bacteria such as H-pylori will bloom to dangerous and destructive levels unless the stomach is bathed in strong HCl frequently. Using antacids on a regular basis give these critters the advantage they need to infect the stomach lining and promote ulcers.

Eat or drink almost nothing with sugar in it, refined or otherwise; give up sodas! All simple sugars and high-glycemic foods will rapidly raise blood sugar, causing an insulin output for the purpose of lowering the blood sugar level back under 83 mg/dl. Glycation (the bonding of sugars to proteins), sited in our Anti-aging Category as one of the four primary aging mechanisms, is an unavoidable consequence of burning glucose as a metabolic fuel. But, research has shown that keeping blood sugar in a range between 74 and 85 reduces glycation, the primary cause of the damage associated with diabetes and high blood sugar. Chronic high blood sugar leads to insulin resistance and sustained levels of both blood glucose and insulin as seen in type II diabetes and result in rapid aging of most body tissues. The key offender these days is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). It has been hyped as very healthy because it doesn’t cause a rapid insulin response; it is basically a liver toxin and is pro-inflammatory – avoid it entirely.

Carbonated soft drinks are highly acidic, and raise blood acidity. The body responds by pulling calcium out of our bones to buffer/reduce the pH of the body’s fluids – not something you want happening to your bones. The sugar load from a soda is enormous; the number one cause of obesity in children. Give them up and drink water. Avoid big glasses of any fruit juices; it is far better for your blood sugar levels to eat the fruit and drink pure water. It is important to avoid high-fructose corn syrup in anything. Fructose is processed by the liver directly, and 40% of intake is stored as body fat. High fructose intake has been shown to rapidly push us toward metabolic syndrome; avoid HFCS like it was a toxin - it is, for all practical purposes, just that!

Another big offender today is the boxed breakfast cereal; generally loaded with sugar and refined flour. Even the Granola types increase blood sugar too rapidly, and most are based on hydrogenated fats for shelf life. I haven’t eaten a manufactured breakfast cereal in two decades. I do eat plenty of free-range eggs with diced vegetables lightly sautéed in butter, coconut and olive oil; high in protein, fiber, good fats. Add some pre-cooked garbanzo or other beans for increased fiber. Another favorite is cottage cheese or organic, live-culture yogurt with diced fresh fruit or fresh berries and a little flax oil. I also use hot whole/multi-grain Muesli with some coconut/olive oil and butter tossed in for extra fat energy. Try eating a handful of almonds instead of toast.

These principles fairly well sum up what I have learned about getting the right nutrients from the right foods, digested, absorbed and assimilated. There is much more at the detail level to learn, but this is a very good start to eating right and getting the most out of it. I have mentioned a few supplements that enhance digestion, but the bulk of that topic will be discussed in our Supplements Category. I want to impress upon the reader that what you eat is the primary basis for your health, or lack-there-of. One of my goals at Senior Fitness.com is to point our readers to credible sources of information, and to filter out the junk from the treasure. Don’t stop with a shallow understanding of health and fitness; make it your intent to be a life-long researcher of knowledge aimed at keeping your fitness at a peak level for the rest of your life.

Good Living – Frank

Author's Bio: 

Frank Wilhelmi of http://www.seniorfitness.com chronicles strategies for staying healthy and fit into advanced age. He is an electronic engineer by trade, but his passion is teaching others to lead healthy, vibrant, pain-free, activity-filled lives.