An informal survey of 6,000 paleo diet followers found the majority were in their 20’s and 30’s with a mere 3% over aged 60. (1) But is the paleo diet just for the young? Or are there valid reasons for following it at any age?
While the paleo diet is a relatively new movement, eating a diet based on “real food” isn’t. In fact, it’s a lot like the diet our grandparents — and generations before that — ate.
But once fast food and processed foods were introduced, the American diet — and our health — never looked the same.
Bad eating habits contribute to a “who’s who” of diseases common in us older folks. Arthritis, obesity, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and Alzheimer’s can be directly related to diet.
Here are 10 ways a paleo diet can keep you young and healthy as you approach midlife and beyond.
1. Getting older invariably means eating less. (I can’t eat as much as I used and believe me, sometimes I try!) Eating nutritionally dense food is the best way to meet your body’s nutritional requirements.
2. Digestion often gets worse with age which means fewer nutrients are absorbed. Fermented unpasteurized sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir improve digestion by restoring proper intestinal flora.
3. You’ve probably known seniors with a huge sweet tooth. These folks haven’t lost their willpower – they’ve lost their sense of taste and smell. This is often caused by zinc deficiency. Red meat and shellfish are excellent sources of zinc. Since grains decrease zinc absorption due to the presence of phytates avoiding them also helps.
4. Vitamin B12 deficiencies are rampant due both to poor diet and poor absorption. Eating high-quality meat assures you’ll get plenty of B12.
5. The risk of insulin resistance and diabetes increases with age. 25% of all adults over 65 have diabetes. Minimizing carbs and eating plenty of protein and fat balances blood sugar levels.
6. One of the best ways to fight aging is to douse chronic inflammation. It’s the underlying cause of 7 of the top 10 leading causes of death. The omega-6 fatty acids in wild salmon and grass-fed meat fight inflammation. So does trading in canola oil for coconut oil and butter.
7. Bone broth is great for reducing the pain of arthritis. Chicken cartilage was found to beat glucosamine and chondroitin supplements for reducing both pain and stiffness. (2)
8. Keeping osteoporosis at bay doesn’t mean drinking a lot of milk. Leafy green vegetables and bone broth provides all the vitamins and minerals needed for strong bones. Include some weight-bearing exercise to ensure your bones continue to add mass and avoid thinning.
9. There is little point in having a healthy body if your brain is degenerating. One of the worst things for your brain is excessive carbohydrate consumption. Some researchers believe that Alzheimer’s is a form of insulin resistance of the brain and are even calling it “type 3 diabetes”.
10. Your brain is largely made up of fat. Cholesterol is an essential component of every brain cell. Eating meat and butter can help keep your cholesterol levels up. Huh? Turns out low cholesterol levels have been found to increase the risk of suicide, depression, and dementia. (3) Conversely, the risk of dementia is reduced by 70% in those with high cholesterol. You read that right — high cholesterol reduces risk of dementia. (4) And don’t worry about cholesterol because it does NOT cause heart disease. That’s an old myth that’s dying hard.
Jazz artist Eubie Blake famously said on his 92 birthday – “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” It’s never too late to improve your diet or help your favorite senior get back to eating a diet of nutrient-dense, unprocessed food.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Deane Alban holds a bachelor’s degree in biology and has taught and written on a wide variety of natural health topics for over 20 years. She teaches the best ways to stay mentally sharp for life at her website BeBrainFit.com. Brain fog, “senior moments”, and fuzzy thinking are signs your brain is not working as well as it should. Discover how to nourish your brain and optimize your brainpower — sign up for her email series 21 Days to a Brighter Brain here.