9355309-a-bowl-of-cereal-with-milk-fruit-and-fresh-berriesBowl of oat cereal, fresh berries and fruit

Seventeen years ago, AARP teemed up with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to determine the influence of dietary and lifestyle choices on the incidence of life-threatening diseases on over half a million people ages 50 and older.

What the collaboration yielded is an understanding of how specific foods affect our bodies, for good or for ill, and the knowledge of how to adjust our dietary choices to stay healthy and lose weight.

And here are the first 5 guidelines, part of what’s called The AARP New American Diet:

Have breakfast every day.

A healthy, nutrient-dense breakfast includes protein, whole grains and fruits keeps your insulin level steady all morning and keeps you from overeating later in the day.

The National Weight Control Registry studied nearly 4,000 persons who had lost weight and kept off for up to 6 years.  Those who at a nutritious breakfast daily lost more weight and kept it off longer than those who didn’t eat breakfast.

Good choices would be an egg sandwich on whole wheat bread with strawberries or whole-grain cereal with low-fat milk and a banana.

Drink more water instead of sweetened or diet soft drinks.

Most of us don’t realize how many calories we take in through sodas, juices, alcoholic drinks and other beverages.   For two weeks, try drinking nothing but water and coffee and watch the weight come off.

Though diet drinks have no sugar, research shows that they may increase our cravings for sugar-sweetened, high calorie foods.   That’s bad.

Also, they disrupt our ability to properly estimate the amount of calories we consume, so we eat more than we ordinarily would.  That’s worse.

And the worst rap?  Researchers at University of Miami found that drinking more than two diet beverages a day is associated with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, as well as with stroke and heart disease.

Include more broiled or baked fish in your diet.

Low calorie fish has the omega-3 fatty acids our bodies need for brain health and contains other important nutrients.  It may also lower your risk of getting certain cancers and improve rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

Eating red meat—and that means pork, too, and processed meats (hot dogs, bacon, sausage) increases that risk, so eat less of them.

Include whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta and brown rice in your diet.

Regularly consuming whole grains can cut your risk of heart disease, respiratory illness and some cancers, including breast and colon cancers—and can help you lose weight.

In a Penn State study, for 12 weeks, half of the participants ate whole grains, while the other half at refined grains, such as white bread and pasta.  The group eating whole grains lost significantly more visceral, or belly, fat, the kind linked to diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

Fill up on fruits and vegetables

The AARP-NIH partnership shows that including fruits and vegetables into you daily diet will help you live longer.  These antioxidant rich foods will help you live longer, and, according to the Penn State study, help you lose weight when you aren’t even trying, probably because they’re mostly water & make you feel full.

Though potatoes are healthy, the recommendation is to not eat them for a few weeks until you’re ready to eat them without unhealthy toppings and without having been fried.

Coming up:  6 More Tips to Increase Your Longevity

SOURCE:  AARP the Magazine  December 2012/January  2012



  1. God info and seems to follow many alternative Drs recommendations. To each their own, but one area I disagree on is grains. Although I don’t follow the Paleo diet per se, I do try to stay COMPLETELY away from grains and processed foods with about 60% of my diet from veges and fruit. Half being raw for the cleansing effect.
    Gluten sensitivities (not just wheat) effect a high portion of people and can possibly lead to autoimmune diseases.

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