Long-term health is not talked about as much as I wish it would be! Short-term goals that revolve around weight loss and body image seem to consume the conversations, however, short-term goals do not hold their ‘weight’ in disease prevention, condition management, or successful aging! (pun intended!). 

When it comes to eating healthy foods and enjoying a healthy lifestyle, weight loss becomes a result of the effort instead of a focus of the effort!  

So, let’s stop and think about that for a minute.

Having worked with so many patients who are advanced in age, I have seen hundreds of people with almost every chronic disease imaginable, and believe me when I say, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of treatment! 

Long-term health is about eating to meet the needs of ALL our body parts and systems!  We expect our body to work every second of every day, no matter what we throw at it.  If you think about it, that is one amazing system! 

So, we must consider our bone health, heart health, gut health, brain health, hormone system, our ability to stay flexible and move with ease, and of course, cancer prevention. And this list is not 100% complete.  There are many more aspects of health that are not being discussed here.   I have just listed a few of the most common conditions out there.

HEART HEALTH

I am starting with cardiovascular health because it is the most common chronic condition. Feeding your heart the nutrients it needs, makes it work better – period.  The heart has to work, no matter what.  So, here is what it needs:

Vitamin and Minerals for Heart Health:

  • High fibre foods:
    • whole grains
    • Legumes
    • Lentils
    • Beans
  • Lean animal protein (eggs, fish, skinless poultry)
  • Plant-based proteins (beans, lentils, pulses, legumes)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Olive Oil
  • Fruits / Vegetables
  • Omega-3 Fatty acids (study here)
    •  walnuts, Seafood, algae, salmon, bluefin tuna, sardines and herring.

Avoid:

  • Saturated fats
  • Trans fats
  • Sugar sweetened foods and beverages
  • High salt foods
  • Processed meats and foods

BONE HEALTH

As we age, bones become brittle, thin and weak.  In order to build strong bones and slow down the process of bone loss, we need essential nutrients and vitamins, as well as weight resistance training and physical activity.  This is a tough one because our bones do not tell us they are getting weaker, they just do their job, until they break.  Then we know! Weight-bearing exercises include walking, jogging, and climbing stairs can help you build strong bones and slow bone loss.

Vitamin and Minerals for Bone Health:1

The National Osteoporosis Foundation indicates:

  • Calcium foods:
    • Dairy, Almonds, Canned Salmon with bones, sardines, tofu
  • Magnesium foods:
    • Spinach, beet greens, okra, tomato products, artichokes, plantains, potatoes, sweet potatoes, collard greens
  • Potassium foods:
    • Tomato products, raisins, potatoes, spinach, sweet potatoes, papaya, oranges, orange juice, bananas, plantains and prunes
  • Vitamin K:
    • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Vitamin C:
    • Red peppers, oranges, grapefruits, broccoli, strawberries,, papaya and pineapples.

CANCER PREVENTION

There are so many types of cancer out there that not all studies point to one cancer prevention diet, however, there are many studies that show similar results.  In total, according to the WHO, in 2020 there were 10.1million new cases of cancer in 6 categories. According to this study, eating patterns can help decrease your risk of developing cancer. 

Vitamin and Minerals for Cancer Prevention:2

  • High fibre foods:
    • Whole grains
    • Legumes
    • Lentils
    • Beans
  • A variety of vegetables:
    •  Dark green, red, and orange,
  • Fruits:
    • Especially whole fruits with a variety of colors
  • Omega-3 Fatty acids (study here)
    •  Walnuts, Seafood, algae, salmon, bluefin tuna, sardines and herring.

BRAIN HEALTH

Oh, the Brain!  The long-forgotten organ at the top of the world! The brain maintains our body’s functions, regulates our moods and emotions, manages our ability to tolerate stress, tells our body how to move and when and also keeps up with all our involuntary movements, like breathing, seeing, hearing and talking.   Studies agree that eating high-quality foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants nourishes the brain and protects it from aging. 3

Vitamins and Minerals for Brain Health

  • Omega 3 Fatty acids:
    •  Walnuts, Seafood, algae, salmon, bluefin tuna, sardines and herring
  • Berries
  • Olive Oil
  • High fibre foods:
    • Whole grains
    • Legumes
    • Lentils
    • Beans
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Nuts

Avoid:

  • Red meats
  • Butter and stick margarine
  • Cheese
  • Pastries and sweets
  • Fried or fast food

MOBILITY and FLEXIBILITY

This is all about our ability to feed oxygen to our muscles and keep our bodies in motion without limitations. To move, balance, stretch and hold our position, as we want. Maintaining and improving flexibility is just as important as cardio and strength health and has benefits related to joints, muscle soreness, circulation, posture, stiffness, and stress relief.4,5

Vitamins and Minerals for Mobility and Flexibility

  • A variety of vegetables: 
    • Dark green, red, and orange,
  • Selenium:
    • Whole grains and dairy products,
    • Lean meats; poultry; pork, beef, fish, shellfish, eggs; seafood;
    • Brazil nuts
  • High Fibre foods:
    • Whole grains
    • Legumes
    • Lentils
    • Beans

HORMONE HEALTH

Hormones are super important and are involved in many aspects of our daily function from sleep, alertness, metabolism, weight control, mood, sexual function and drive, our ability to regulate our body temperature, our skin health and more.  An imbalance in our hormones has a huge impact on our ability to enjoy our daily lives. Here is what you need to help keep your hormones working well.

Vitamins and Mineral for Hormone Health

  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Plant-based proteins (beans, lentils, pulses, legumes)
  • Lean animal protein (eggs, fish, skinless poultry)
  • Omega 3 Fatty acids:
    •  Walnuts, Seafood, algae, salmon, bluefin tuna, sardines and herring.
  • Olive Oil

GUT HEALTH

Gut health is showing up everywhere nowadays, and for good reason. Good gut health has been linked to almost every chronic disease condition including the organs, skin and brain.  It is being recognized as one of the most important factors in all aspects of your body’s health.  The gut contains the microbiome, and according to this study which is considered now a vital organ in the body.

Vitamins and Minerals for Gut Health

  • Prebiotics – garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, bananas, and seaweed.
  • Fermented foods: kimchi, yogurt, miso, tempeh, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha
  • High Fibre foods:
    • Whole grains
    • Legumes
    • Lentils
    • Beans
  • Polyphenols7 – cherries, blackberries, pomegranate, apricots, red wine, green tea

Bottom Line

The common denominator here from all the lists provided includes a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and this means at every meal and snack, try to have at least 2 different ones.  Plant-based proteins include beans, lentils, legumes, tempeh, edamame, tofu, chickpeas, peanuts, almonds, quinoa, seitan and peas. Fibre-rich foods make most lists as well which include lentils and legumes as well as whole grains and prebiotic foods.  Healthy fats and/or Omega-3 fatty acids are indicated as well which include olive oil, canola oil, salmon, walnuts, flaxseeds (and oil) and chia seeds.


Let Today be the day where you decide “Enough is enough!” You want results, you want to be healthy and you are ready to make it happen! 

The recipes posted on this site include all aspects of long-term health and can be easily made with simple ingredients. Check it out and let me know what you think!


Call me and let’s talk!  My name is Teresa Maiorano, and as an RD working in this field for over 10 years, I’ve seen it all and I can help you reach your goals.  

You can connect with me through LiveandLoveNutrition.com,  on IG @LiveandLoveNutrition, through LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/teresa-maioranord/ or send me an email at Teresa@LiveandLoveNutrition.com.

“May there always be colours on your plate and joy at your table!”


References:

  1. https://www.nof.org/patients/treatment/nutrition/
  2. Rock, Cheryl et al. “American Cancer Society Guideline for Diet and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention” CA A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 2020;70:245-271.
  3. Today’s Dietitian “MIND Diet May Significantly Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease.” Rush University Medical Center.
  4. Garber CE, Blissmer B, Deschenes MR, et al. American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining cardiorespiratory, musculoskeletal, and neuromotor fitness in apparently healthy adults: guidance for prescribing exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(7):1334-1359.
  5. Flexibility benefits. American Council on Exercise website. http://www.acefitness.org/fitness-fact-article/2610/flexible-benefits/. Accessed April 12, 2016.
  6. Milaneschi Y., et al “Nutritional determinants of mobility” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: November 2010 – Volume 13 – Issue 6 – p 625-629
  7. Yang Q, Liang Q, Balakrishnan B, Belobrajdic DP, Feng QJ, Zhang W. Role of Dietary Nutrients in the Modulation of Gut Microbiota: A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2020;12(2):381. Published 2020 Jan 31. doi:10.3390/nu12020381