The short answer is YES. According to the research, one of the strongest predictors of happiness in older adults—is health. Just think: by 2050 the world population of adults 60 and over is expected to reach 2 billion; and study after study shows that this is the also the age demographic at increased risk for chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, and even cancer. While genetic predispositions may play a role, we often neglect the powerful role that our lifestyle plays in staving off disability and premature death.
The three most agreed-upon lifestyle practices that experts say will help to optimize our health include, diet, exercise, and avoid smoking. Of these three, an optimally nutritious diet has the most impact on good health –specifically a whole food, low fat, sugar-free, oil-free, and salt-free plant-based vegan diet.
Why not Mediterranean? Paleo? Atkins? While it is true that some approaches to healthy eating may be better than sitting around eating junk food all day, they are still not optimal compared to WFPB SOS (whole food plant-based salt-free, oil-free and sugar free). out all animal products, even fish, eggs, and dairy). Check out the work of the leading plant-based medical doctors who have literally and dramatically helped countless people reverse and prevent disease: Caldwell Esselstyn, Joel Fuhrman, John McDougall, and Neal Barnard. While their approaches to nutritional health differ in only a few minor details, they all agree on the basics that promote vibrant health and longevity. If followed faithfully, this way of eating also helps us to shed pounds and reach our optimal weight.
What to eat? Unprocessed plant foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Also avoid packaged foods and added oils (even olive oil should be eaten in its whole natural form—by eating the olive—which has fiber and nutrients that are stripped when the oil is extracted). If this sounds like a boring way of eating just hop onto YouTube and check out the channels and recipes of Chef AJ, Plantiful Kiki, Jane Esselstyn, Physicians Committee, Joel Fuhrman, Kyong Weathersby, and the Whole Food Plant Based Cooking Show. There are countless other great cooking channels, too, as a growing body of research confirms the benefits of this lifestyle.
Naturally, if you have special health considerations you should always consult with your primary health provider before you make any kind of change. Get informed and share what you learn with your doctor. Together you can make lifestyle decisions that can help you to live longer and feel better each day. Here’s to your happiness!
Resources and for further information:
Barnard, Neal ( 2018 ) The Vegan Starter Kit. Grand Central Publishing
Kahleova, H., Levin, S., & Barnard, Neal D (2020) Plant-Based Diets for Healthy Aging, Journal of American College of Nutrition.
© Raeleen Mautner LLC 2021