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6 tips for living & eating well


We took a look at diet and wellness research to find the most valuable lessons for eating and living well in the new year. We coupled those with the time-honored lessons — red meat in moderation, plants in abundance — to bring you these top six tips.

Diets are out. Mindful eating is in.

Ever shocked by how much popcorn you can put away at the movies? That’s because you’re not eating with intention. The latest research about healthy eating is less about staying away from certain foods and more about eating with awareness. In “Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life,” authors Lilian Cheung and Thich Nhat Hanh discuss the successful practices of mindful eating, which include eating without distraction, engaging your senses, serving modest-sized portions and eating slowly to avoid overeating. The more mindful of an eater you are, the more likely you are to make healthful choices, too.

Buy a juicer already.

Drinking your fruits and vegetables is one of the fastest and easiest ways to get those beneficial nutrients into your system. While smoothies are usually what spring to mind, they are often loaded with sugar — even the ones you make at home — but juice made from leafy greens like spinach and kale or hydration-centric foods like celery and cucumber offer endless health benefits. (The chlorophyll alone strengthens your immune system and helps control inflammation). And you can add herbs, fruit (pears or green apples are good choices) to add zing.

Eat more fermented foods.

A diet rich in fermented foods — think kimchi, pickles, yogurt, kombucha — enhances the diversity of microbes in the gut and reduces signs of inflammation on a molecular level, say researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine. And we know that a healthier gut makes for a healthier body (and likely a healthier brain).

What you eat can impact your mental health.

There’s an emerging field of research called nutritional psychiatry that suggests there is a relationship between the foods we crave and our overall mental health. Not surprisingly, studies show that the sugar-laden and often high-fat foods we find comforting when stressed — pizza, cake, burgers and fries — are the least likely to make us feel better in the short- or long- term. The sugary stuff worsens your body’s regulation of insulin, impairs brain function and may worsen depression. And cumulative evidence shows that a diet rich in fatty foods impairs cognitive function and increases the vulnerability to anxiety. Overall, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, fish and fermented foods is the way to go.

Go ahead, have a second cup of joe.

The latest research, published last year in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, confirms what most of us java heads have been waiting to hear: Coffee may actually save you from an early death. Using data from nearly 450,000 adults, the study found a possible association between coffee consumption — two to three cups per day — and decreased early death, not to mention possible protection against Parkinson’s disease, Type 2 diabetes, liver disease, heart attack and stroke. Researchers found “significant reductions” in the risk for coronary heart disease, congestive heart failure and stroke associated with drinking coffee, whether it was ground, instant caffeinated or decaffeinated. Ground, caffeinated coffee consumption lowered the risk of death the most — by 27%t. Prior studies have also shown a link between black coffee and a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and prostate cancer. Drink up.

Eat more plants.

Plant-based eating is nutrient-dense and packed with fiber, healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. It is not vegan or vegetarian; you can still eat eggs, fish, chicken — even beef, in moderation — and dairy products, but about two-thirds of your meal should come from legumes, nuts and non-animal sources.

Tribune News Service


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