Be Fit For Life

with Ellen Cohen-Kaplan

Crazy about nuts? It may help extend your years.

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Longevity is one of my preoccupations. I’m fascinated by centenarians and love to talk to them about what makes and keeps them ticking. I had many great opportunities to speak to elders who were nearing or who had reached 100 when I worked at hospitals and in home care as an Occupational Therapist. The responses inevitably included having purposefulness, activity and good social networks. Many of these folks had pets for whom they were the only caretaker. When I asked one 102 year old woman what kept her going, she replied “I live with my nephew, and he doesn’t know the first thing about grocery shopping or cooking!” (He was 72.) Resilience has also been stated as one of the factors that keep people going well into their eighth, ninth and even tenth decades. Many had difficult childhoods, had to be resourceful from a  young age, and carried that tendency into their older years. They expected to work hard and figure things out and this has served them well, both mentally and physically, even as their bodies and minds declined.

Science also has a laser focus on aging well, particularly as we baby boomers want to extend our healthy and most productive years . It’s easy to figure out the demographics of a particular culture by looking at what dominates the news. This week, a study which examines nut consumption, and a new book- “The Exercise Cure” by Jordan Metzl caught my eye.

This retrospective study determined that people who had nuts as part of their everyday diet lived longer. “Frequent nut consumption has been linked to a reduced risk of major chronic diseases, including heart and blood vessel disorders and Type 2 diabetes.” Some of the reasons were that many nuts (especially almonds) contain substantial amounts of vitamin E, (an anti-oxidant), omega 3 oils, essential vitamins and minerals like zinc and magnesium. They also contain a lot of fiber, and while they are calorie dense (1 ounce equals 160-200 calories) they often replace snacks with higher saturated fat contents.

Check out this website for further details:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/12/09/snacking-your-way-to-better-health/?emc=eta1&_r=0

It’s easy to include nuts in your everyday diet. I sprinkle slivered almonds and chopped walnuts over my oatmeal or cereal and my salads every day. When I’m in a rush, I spread some natural peanut butter (the freshly made kind at Whole Foods is my favorite) over some fruit and nut bread for lunch.

Epicurious is a great resource for all things cooked or baked: Here’s the website for recipes with nuts:

http://www.epicurious.com/tools/searchresults?search=nut+recipes&x=-730&y=-74

Another study making the news this week was the “The Exercise Cure” (Dec 10, 2013) a new book by Jordan Metzl, a sports medicine physician in NYC. He believes that exercise (at least 150 minutes a week) could substitute for and potentially eliminate the need for a myriad of medicine that we Americans consume. I ordered this book and will give more details about it in future posts.

Until then, happy holidays all, and enjoy the festivities of the season!

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