When's is the last time you visited a rest home? There's one around the corner from my house, and let me tell you, if you need a motivation to eat healthy now - visit one.
As you see people talking to themselves, and the mentally intact: completely bedridden, using a bedpan and wearing adult diapers - whom someone else has to change - you just might be inspired to do whatever it takes to stay healthy while you can. And you're luck, turns out what you eat has a LOT to do with how well you age.
A recent study published in The Lancet Oncology found that comprehensive lifestyle changes, including a low-fat vegan diet, increase the body’s ability to fight premature aging, cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
Twenty-four men participating in a prostate cancer study switched to a plant-based diet and added daily exercise and relaxation techniques. Among other beneficial effects that were previously reported, the intervention led to increased levels of telomerase, an enzyme that protects and repairs DNA. Blood levels of telomerase increased by an average of 29 percent during the study.
(Ornish D, Lin J, Daubenmier J, et al. Increased telomerase activity and comprehensive lifestyle changes: a pilot study. Lancet Oncol [advance online publication]. September 16, 2008; DOI 10.1016/S1470-2045(08)70234-1.)
Okay, so I'll admit I've never heard of telomerase before, but this is an incredible finding. If telomerase plays a role in protecting and repairing cell DNA - which thus protects against cancer and cell death (premature aging) - and the men who adopted a plant-based diet had 29% more telomerase than men who did not... that's VERY significant. Not only will these men be much less likely to die at a younger age, but they will be healthy while they are alive. How many people, young or old, do you know who are healthy while they are alive?
Most people have forgotten what it feels like to be healthy, but every once in a while I get to follow up with someone who has read this blog or my book, or attended a seminar who tells me what it's like to re-gain their health. Usually it starts with having more energy, then weight loss, and often some biomarker, like their cholesterol, goes way down. In general, I suppose you could describe these people as being more alive.
So, maybe our goal shouldn't just be to stay out of rest homes. Maybe it should be to be more alive while we're alive.
By the way, for those of you who are motivated to change your diet but need a little help, please visit my friend Jennifer Brewer's meal planning website at NourishingNutrition.com. She is the recipe Queen!