Baseball legend Mickey Mantle once said, “If I’d known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself.” Like all memorable quotes, it’s a mix of clever wording and a universal truth: the poor diet and lifestyle choices of our youth start to catch up with us as we age. But the good news is that embracing a healthful lifestyle, including a nutrient-dense, plant-rich diet, can allow us to maintain optimal health and achieve enhanced longevity.
We get older with every tick of the clock. But we have the power to decide how we want to age: with vitality, living life with gusto, full of energy and with our faculties intact; or in pain, beset by chronic (and preventable) diseases such as arthritis, atherosclerosis, hypertension, diabetes and dementia. Aging itself is not the primary cause of these common illnesses; the cause is predominately one’s diet. Those types of diseases develop over many years of eating a less-than-ideal diet.
In the United States, as in other developed countries, too much of the food that is consumed has almost no nutritional value. I am talking about highly processed foods that are often refered to as “empty calories” because they are so low in micronutrients. These are products, not whole foods. Eating commercial baked goods, snack foods, luncheon meats, ice cream, soda, and oils, is dangerous. They are usually made with sweeteners, white flour or loaded with sodium. Our addiction to these high-calorie, low-nutrient foods have led to astronomically high rates of obesity, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Heart disease, dementia, diabetes, and even cancer do not have to be the inevitable consequence of aging. It is possible to live a long life, free from disability and chronic disease if we eat a nutrient-dense, plant-rich diet, with little if any refined foods and minimal amounts of animal products. I call this way of eating a Nutritarian diet, to represent the healthiest way to eat in the world
There are many advantages to adopting the Nutritarian eating style:
Eat big salads that contain lots of leafy greens, and include tomatoes, raw onions, dressed with a nut-seed based dressing. Chew your foods thoroughly to breakdown its cellular walls to release as many of the nutrients as possible. Avoid excessive amounts of oils and animal products – if you do use them, don’t eat them often — only in small amounts, like a condiment, a few times a week, or two or three times a month.
My primary goal, throughout my career as a physician and nutritional researcher, has been to help people recognize the direct connection between food and health. We have a unique opportunity to live longer and more healthfully than ever before. We can age gracefully, free of the common diseases associated with aging.
Thousands of scientific studies have been published to support eating this way. By utilizing these advances in nutritional science, I have enabled thousands of people to reverse their chronic disease, lower their weight, blood pressure and cholesterol to normal, without drugs, and to restore their health and vitality. Today is the day for you to begin if you have not already.
I urge everyone to learn the principles of this style of eating. This is not about deprivation. It is a delicious, satisfying and sensible way to enjoy eating as we increase our ability to live a fuller, healthier and longer life.
Commit to taking better care of yourself today. You’ll not only reap immediate rewards – you’ll also give yourself the chance to enjoy a long and healthy future.