Heart Health

 Do you eat fast food? I was never crazy about it, but admit to having some every once-in-a-while. I should stipulate I do not consider the occasional In-N-Out-Burger, which is made with all fresh ingredients, to be fast food. As I look back, my wife Trisha, with very few exceptions such as late night travel stops, has never eaten fast food. No wonder, now in her sixties, she looks so much better than I do.

To the point, as I’ve grown older, my eating habits have improved. Not because I’ve gotten so much wiser or I’ve made a commitment to the Spartan life, but because in most cases I really like the taste of foods that are better for me. I have no problem passing by a fast food place and much prefer something fresh and more nutritious.  The health and longevity benefits of a proper diet cannot be denied. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting myself up as a role model. Start slicing a tasty cake and I’ll be  first in line. But overall, as I age I try to be more selective about my food choices. Having researched the topic for many years, here are some food suggestions that are very good for us as we age. The best part is they also taste great.

Veggies – We all know we should get lots of vegetables because they have benefits which help prevent heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and more. Go for the dark, leafy, and more colorful vegetables.

Walnuts – A great source of omega-3 fatty acid. Don’t have to worry about mercury contamination contained in fish.

Berries – Great way to get plenty of essential antioxidants and other chemicals needed to counter the effects of aging.

Avocados – One of the best anti-aging foods because it contains healthy fat that help lower cholesterol. I admit to not liking themwhen I was young, but absolutely love them now. At lunch I often cut one in half and fill it with berries, a great two-for-one.

Beans – If you are looking for non-animal protein and lots of antioxidants, bean are the way to go. Trisha and I try to have one or two bean-based meals each week.

Melons – While most of us know we are supposed to get several servings of fruit every day, we don’t always think of melons. They are filled with vitamins and taste great. Recently, I needed to drop a few pounds very quickly. I  made melons my main source of food and dropped the weight rapidly.

Green Tea – This tea has anti-aging chemicals known for thousands of years in Asia. Trisha and I try to find time in the afternoon to relax and have a cup.

Chocolate – Be sure you eat the dark chocolate. It contains lots of healthy chemicals, but does have a lot of calories. Don’t overdo it.

Red Wine – I’m sure you’ve heard about the anti-aging qualities contained in red wine. It’s true because red wine contains a substance called “resveratrol” that helps fight off age-related illnesses. Don’t drink too much because the alcohol is not that great for you.

Water – While you don’t need to be one of these folks who carry huge bottles of water with them everywhere, water is vital for our health and very existence. Unfortunately, as we age we tend to lose our sense of thirst so getting enough water is very important.

Taking Care of Our Hearts

A recent study found the number one concern of retired persons is their health.

That being the case, it should come as no surprise taking care of one’s heart should be job one. I don’t enjoy preaching to people and truly believe every person should live their retired life as they wish. Besides, at our age, this isn’t our first rodeo. Although most folks are pretty savvy and have probably already discussed some of these issues with their doctors, being reminded of these important heart health considerations can’t hurt. Here are some of the most important ones, including some relatively new ones:

– If you smoke, stop. No discussion. Smoking is not only a major cause of lung cancer, it can create blood clots and contribute to plaque buildup in your arteries. It’s also unhealthy for the hearts of those around you.

– Lower your intake of saturated fats such as red meat. It’s recommended that less than 10% of your diet should come from animals or animal products.

– Maintain a healthy weight. Health.com reports that 72% of men and 64% women in the U. S. are obese.

– Protect your heart with better nutrition. Salty snacks, high sugar foods and drinks, and empty calorie foods full of fat and oil are all factors increasing the risk of stroke, kidney failure, and heart attacks. Replace these foods with more fruits and vegetables.

– Cut down on your alcohol intake. Many people have heard about or read studies suggesting alcohol is good for your heart. While it may turn out that small amounts of alcohol are beneficial, excess alcohol increases the risks of high blood pressure and heart failure.

– Maintain or increase your social life. Studies have shown that older people who are more social are healthier and happier than those who tend to withdraw. Last year my wife and I were asked to discuss retired-life issues on a talk show. This was one of the items I had submitted to be discussed. The producer was not overwhelmed with the discussion topic. I then suggested the topic be changed to “becoming a social butterfly.” He loved it.  

– Avoid sitting for hours. It has been shown to increase your risk of heart attack and stroke, even if you exercise regularly. For some time I have recorded my favorite television shows and watch them when I choose. This way you can get up, move around, and get out of that chair for a while.

– Don’t underestimate emotional factors such as depression or hostility on your heart health. Internalized stress is dangerous. Seek help and manage your stress.

– If you snore, seek medical advice. It could be sleep apnea which can cause high blood pressure and increase your risk of heart attack.

– Maintain good dental hygiene. Recent studies have shown that there is a link between poor dental and gum care and heart disease.

– Don’t wait if you have any symptoms of heart problems. One recent study showed that married men get to the hospital faster and have a higher survival rate than single men. The wives insisted on calling for help. Take the hint and if symptoms occur, get help fast.

Wonderful Technology

Being an old pilot, I love to park near an airport and watch the planes take off and land. I usually carry a small radio that allows me to listen to the tower communications. If I have an airport pick up, I always go early and find a great place to park and enjoy myself. Occasionally, the battery on my radio will go dead and my fun is spoiled. Recently, I found myself wanting to listen to the tower, but didn’t have my radio. At that point, I had an idea. I grabbed my iphone, connected to the internet, and logged onto the airport’s website. Sure enough, they had the tower communications on the website and I was in business. Turns out, almost all of the maj0r airports have websites providing this ability. One small step for man, one giant leap for airplane nerds like me.

Speaking of airports, today I’m off to pick up my wife whom I haven’t seen in two and a half weeks. We’ve both had responsibilities on separate coasts which we handled nicely. In her absence, I’ve been making some very interesting improvements to the old homestead and I’m sure she’ll be surprised.

Health and Happiness    www.TheBestofOurLives.com


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