Combat Aging with Strategies to Live Well (with transcript)
Patricia Greenberg is a working wife and mother and has 30 years of experience as a Certified Nutritionist, Chef, and Wellness educator. Patricia runs The Fitness Gourmet, a wellness consulting firm that specializes in teaching seminars nationwide. She has a special interest in enhancing the education of the general public, providing accurate nutrition and health information to today’s consumer which has had an impact on the lives and health of thousands of people.
Frank Samson: Welcome to Boomers Today, I'm your host, Frank Samson and of course each week we bring you important, useful information on issues facing Baby Boomers, their parents, and other loved ones. We have with us Patricia Greenberg. Patricia is a working wife and mother and has 30 years of experience as a certified nutritionist, chef, and wellness educator. Patricia runs the Fitness Gourmet, a wellness consulting firm that specializes in teaching seminars nationwide. She has a special interest in enhancing the education of the general public, providing accurate nutrition and health information to today's consumer, which has had an impact on the lives and health of thousands of people.
Patricia also has authored several books, her most recent is Eat Well, Live Well, Age Well, a Wealth of Information for Life. So Patricia, thank you so much for joining us on Boomers Today, I really appreciate it.
Patricia Greenberg: Hi Frank, thank you so much for having me.
Frank: Let’s jump right into it. I want to know from your perspective, why do we age?
Patricia: We're talking about the physiology of aging, what actually happens when we age, how we age, and why we age are great questions. And it's the big question here is how do we age? We age over time, the body, just like inanimate objects, human beings, animals, your car, your electronic equipment in your house, everything over time diminishes. It's just a reality, and I like to be very clear about that because I think it helps people be less afraid of the aging process. We do slow down, your metabolism slows down, your bodily functions slow down, your organs slow down, and I don't mean this in a way that's scary, that your body is shutting down, that's a whole different issue. That's more of when you're medically compromised. This is more an understanding that with age the joints deteriorate somewhat. I don't think I know anybody over 50 that doesn't have some touch of arthritis in their body, which again, you can live a full live with this, not a problem.
And what happens is over time what science is teaching us is that your cells have a lifespan, and they reach a point in time where they just stop replicating. So how we replenish and rejuvenate our bodies is the cells keep replicating and making new cells. And of course that plays into your fitness level and your nutritional status. But over time, that will slow down and eventually stop. And so you feel it all over your body, how do we age, the pigmentation in our hair starts to ... we start to lose that pigmentation so the hair goes from your natural color to more of a gray color. The skin loses elasticity, and so you'll see more visible wrinkles and the skin may look saggier. And these are things that people are terrified of, and it's such a natural process. Why do you slow down? Because your metabolism is just higher when you're younger.
You and I talked off the air a little bit, and we talked a little bit how I ran marathons for many, many years.
Patricia: And I see how many of my fellow runners and fitness and nutrition professionals all are finding ways now to slow down, because they realize you just don't have the physical energy to keep that level up anymore. There are a few people floating around that can still do it, but I do think they're doing it and it really is a struggle.
And what happens, we're finding now, thank goodness, is that science, and orthopedic surgeons, and cardiologists, and general physicians, and some of these sports medicine doctors are learning ways to help people keep active, as active as they can into their 70s and 80s with certain modifications, certain medicines, and of course certain surgeries and treatments that will help preserve some of these functions that are slowing down.
Why we age is still a mystery, and we don't know why DNA replicates and we don't know why it stops. That comes from somewhere in the universe that we have yet to find out.
But what I like to tell everybody when it comes to this is that some people become frightened of aging and they're at the doctor all the time. "This hurts, that hurts, this looks funny, this stuff changes." And often you're dismissed by the doctor by saying it's a natural part of aging. And some people just don't even go, they figure well, I made it to 60 or 70, what's the difference, I'll just live with what I have. And I think there's a happy medium. I think people should go and get an annual exam, get everything checked so at least you know you have a baseline each year of your values, your numbers, your health status, your energy, your bones, your muscles, etc. Then at that point seek not only traditional medicine for treatments, but also alternative. I don't think I need to tell anybody listening that we know now relaxation, meditation, yoga, walking, these what I call more gentle approaches to taking care of yourself, gentle exercise, being gentle to yourself and keeping yourself calm, is really, really beneficial in helping you sustain during the aging process.
Frank: Yeah. So for those that do watch television, I don't think you could watch television without getting some sort of a commercial on some medication, or whatever, I mean, it's crazy how much is out there. But my specific question just has to do with anything that's anti-aging, or certain types of vitamins, what's your opinion about all of this? I mean, is it just smoke and mirrors, or whatever you want to call it? Should people really pay attention to that as it relates to living better? I'm not talking about anything that a doctor prescribes, I'm just talking about over the counter type of medications that are being promoted by various companies.
Patricia: Yeah, it's an excellent question, and one of the things that, again, it circles back a little bit to what we were talking about earlier, is that in my opinion there's no such thing as anti-aging. You are aging each day that goes by, you are aging, you're moving forward. Anti-aging refers to look 20 years younger, feel 20 years younger, 60 is the new 40, all these things. That's not really true internally, so I think that a lot of this is hype, and I think that a lot of it is snake oil.
But one thing that is very important to understand is what I hope it does is it gets people to take better care of themselves in general. I also would lean towards using more organic multivitamins and one that's prescription grade, meaning that it's a higher level than just something you'd buy in the drugstore. I would speak to a doctor, or a chiropractor, or a wellness practitioner of some sort to see if you can maximize, get the maximum, ultimate amount of nutrition that you can out of a vitamin. But pills, and powers, and bars, and shakes, and drinks, I stay away from all that. I really advise people to get good nutrition from food.
Frank: Yeah. I'm a Boomer, all right, and I've got many friends and family that are in that Boomer category. We often discuss weight loss, and what the right formula for it is. I know we're going to talk about some of the myths about nutrition and fitness, I don't know if that falls into it, but can you talk about that particular subject matter and help clear up what is it? Is it both? Is it one or the other to help maybe people who really want to lose some weight.
Patricia: Again, excellent, excellent point that you're bringing up. As we age, our metabolism slows down. The first course of action would be to go to the doctor for a checkup and get your adrenal glands checked, and your thyroid gland checked and so forth. It may sound like the flat answer to the doctor. Not at all. What I'm saying is to get a baseline, because there are parameters in which your metabolism should be working. And if something's off, you could be all the dieting and the exercise in the world and you're not having success because there is an underlying medical issue. So first order of business is get that checked.
Second order of business, I can tell you from over 30 years experience of being a nutritionist and wellness educator, teaching nutrition, I started out as a hospital dietician many years ago, people eat probably quadruple of what they realize they're eating, if that makes sense to you. The portion distortion is out of control in our country, and unfortunately it's made its way I think around the world. Number one, if I could ask everybody to do one thing that wants to lose weight, is get the sugar out of your diet. Sugar slows down everything, it slows down your metabolism, it slows down your ability for your liver to function, it creates problems in your kidneys, in your heart. For some reason people have really not gotten a handle on how much sugar they eat.
Don't eat desserts, okay?
Patricia: Start there. And just one thing, if you could get all the soda and the diet soda out of your diet. Diet soda is just as bad for you as sugared soda for a multitude reasons. So when it comes to diet and exercise, let's look at both aspects of that, is the amount of food we eat and the sedentary lifestyle that we've taken on is, again, really working against us.
Our habit of eating frozen meals has also got to change. I've got to hand it to these frozen food companies, the amount of food that's available that just needs to be microwaved or heated up, eliminates a lot of activity leading up to feeding yourself. And with all these things going by the wayside, you'd be surprised how that passive activity plays a huge role in weight gain or the inability to lose weight. It's very easy to come home, sit on the couch and press a button to the microwave for dinner and press a button to the TV to watch TV.
And it actually wreaks havoc on your body to have so much food in your system and lack of activity simultaneously. So again, bite sized solutions, a little bit at a time. People who tell me they're having trouble losing weight, I say, "Try to eliminate just one thing and see how that goes." Add a walk to your day every day, and eliminate desserts, eliminate sodas, maybe go down to three days a week from five days a week and you instantly will start to feel better.
But do get yourself checked before you do anything.
Frank: You know, it’s interesting, I had the pleasure of seeing a speaker on aging a while back, and someone in the audience asked a question about buying vitamins for health. And he goes, "Well, let me put it this way, if you ... I don't think it's a good idea if you drive to the drugstore to get those vitamins, but if you walk to the drugstore to get those vitamins then it's okay."
Patricia, you've been a wealth of information so we've got time for a couple more questions and the one I'd like to ask you really directly related to the field that I'm in, as you know we work with a lot of families who have loved ones that have challenging situations, many of which might have been diagnosed with some form of dementia, like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's and all of that. And we deal with that on an every day basis. And it seems to be a fear of the adult children that we work, of course, am I going to get it? What do I need to do to decrease my chances of getting it? Even though there probably still isn't enough research, the one thing I hear over and over again is to exercise and eat well. Anything else you could add to that to maybe help people feel a little bit better of not being confronted with some of the cognitive issues that they hear about, and I guess it relates also to the heart as well, and other diseases.
Patricia: Again, you're bringing up such an interesting topic, and it's something we're all talking about. And as an aside, I am certified as a Dementia's Friends lecturer through Alzheimer's LA, so you are asking the right person. I do speak about that as well. And the first half of that is yes, the caretakers are faced with a very challenging situation. So this is kind of twofold. One thing that we're finding that's very bad for the brain is multitasking. Everybody thinks it's a badge of honor to be on the phone, go to the bathroom, write a report, drive the car, eat lunch, all at the same time. But it's very, very bad for your brain. It's important to stay focused. And one of the things that science is showing is the more scattered you are, the more worked up you are and the more stressed out you are when you're younger, will increase the risk of having some form of dementia.
So that's something to keep in mind, that you keep hearing these come home, and I'll give you a quick scenario of how impactful this can be. So I come, I have a cup of coffee in one hand and my phone in the other hand, I put my car keys down. My phone starts to ring, I check the phone, I put the phone down, put my glasses down, I have to go to the bathroom. I come back in the kitchen, I find oh my goodness, dinner hasn't been heated up yet. And I take it out of the refrigerator and then I stand there and go, uh oh, where are my car keys? And you go back and go, okay, I was in the kitchen, I was in the bathroom, I came to the front door, I walked past the kitchen table. Okay, my keys are on the kitchen table. Someone with dementia cannot retrace their steps that way.
One of the important things that we want to do with age is to stay focused, to stay clean, keep your house free from clutter, keep things in the same place every day. Keeping those things in order are critical as you age, even if you feel very well right now, and healthy, and sharp, that is one very key element to helping out with as we age with memory loss versus normal, memory loss versus dementia.
The second thing is we're finding again the diet, Mediterranean is one that I always pick out as one of the stellar diets because people in Mediterranean climates seem to live longer, and they have more men living into their 80s and 90s than any other culture in the world.
I think it's Japan, the Mediterranean, and Loma Linda out in California, which is a Seventh Day Adventist lifestyle. What they all have in common is that they eat moderately, they forage for their own food, they farm their land, so we get back to that aspect of moving around a lot. They eat healthy, organic food, and most importantly, they don't allow themselves to get lonely. They have communities of people where they all help each other. So it's not just your immediate family that's with you, but it's the community as a whole helps out. And people who have lifetime bonds and relationships with communities of people tend to live longer, healthier, and have less dementia.
Frank: I had the head of the Alzheimer's Foundation on my podcast once, and they talked about doing a study on that subject. It's a huge problem today, it really is.
Patricia: Huge problem, and if there’s anything I could do to solve the problems of the world it would be to get people who are isolated into communities. You can feel lonely among other people, I'm not saying that there's a life that's free of loneliness, it happens to everybody at some point. And just that feeling of not feeling connected. And the more connected you are, remarkably the brain seems to stay sharper as you age.
Frank: Great points, great points. Unfortunately we only have a couple minutes left, so I want to make sure that you share with everybody a little bit more about your book. Give us a little overview on maybe why it's different than some of the other books that are out there, and how people can get it, and then I'll ask you to share any contact information with our listeners as well.
Patricia: Well, thank you so much. Okay, yes, the book is called Eat Well, Live Well, Age Well, it's available on Amazon.com or through my website at www.TheFitnessGourmet.com. And really what I'm trying to convey here is that aging is a journey just like everything else in life. A lot of other stuff you see out there, there's wonderful, wonderful information everywhere now through books, movies, TV, the internet. But I like to stay away from those high gloss hypes of being ... turning back the clock and that it's anti-aging. What I'd like people to do is embrace their age, and understand that life is short, and you want to deal with being in the present. My mantra is, "Stay in today.”
And don't ever compare yourself to other people, what you see in the media. I always joke about the movie stars and the people in the spotlight compared to us mere mortals, you don't know what they do to themselves, you don't know what they've been through to get there. So as we say, stay in your lane, don't chase the anti-aging, use medicine and alternative therapies to your advantage, wear your hearing aids, get your feet checked, all these things that people don't want to do because they associate it with being old. And get out there and have fun. Go to a senior center, take up a new class, learn a new sport, whatever you can do. You're not going to be an Olympic athlete, but maybe you can join a local softball team. Those little things that we can do that make ourselves feel engaged, and you are worthy, every human being on this planet has value, and you have something to offer, and keep that in mind in everything that you do.
Frank: Great. Patricia Greenberg, TheFitnessGourmet.com, check it out. Thank you so much for joining us on Boomers Today, Patricia.
Patricia: Thank you, Frank, thank you so much, Frank.
Frank: Yeah, and I want to thank everybody out there for joining us on Boomers Today. And we'll talk to you next week. Just be safe out there, talk to you all soon.