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Hello Houston! It is my privilege to write for LUXCIOR from Loma Linda, California – the only “Blue Zone” in the United States. You may want to ask me: “What is a Blue Zone?”

A Blue Zone is where you find groups of people who live much longer than average, many of them over 100 years. There are five Blue Zones in the world: Loma Linda, California; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Sardinia, Italy; Icaria, Greece; and Okinawa, Japan. People in these communities are living in good health well into their 90s and 100s! Amazing!

Back in 2005 CNN and many other networks reported on a study National Geographic conducted on what they called “Centennials”, identifying three of the currently five Blue Zones: Loma Linda and Seventh-day Adventists, Sardinia, and Okinawa.The other two have been added since then.

Now, how can one live healthy into their 80s, 90s, or even 100s? If you are interested in learning a bit more, keep on reading because today I am sharing some health and nutrition tips that can improve your health and, quite possibly, add more years to your life.

As we are discussing nutrition, it’s important to first know what the food groups are: The food groups include:

  1. Vegetables
  2. Fruits
  3. Grains
  4. Dairy products
  5. Protein foods
  6. Oils

If you’re reading this on your lunch break, take a moment to really look at your plate of food — or if you’re at home, think of what you usually serve yourself at dinnertime with your family. What does your plate look like? What food group takes up the largest portion?

In a typical North American diet, it is common for half of the plate to be protein, and the other to be grains (starches). Though this may be a typical American diet, it certainly does not mean that it is a healthy one. In fact, the MyPlate recommendations are that half of your plate be vegetables, greens, and some fruit (more vegetables than fruit) and the rest of the plate for protein and starches. That is, one quarter of the plate for protein foods, and the other quarter for grains / starches. Now that we know our food groups and how they should look on our plate, let’s talk a little about the types of food and their preparation:

  1. Vegetables, greens, and fruits carry many nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. Whenever possible, buy your produce fresh; frozen is also a good option. If you’re unable to buy fresh or frozen, look for canned vegetables or fruit that say as “Low Sodium”, “No Salt Added”, or “No Added Sugar”
  2. Buy unprocessed grains. The less processed the grain, the more nutrients and fiber they contain. Look for brown rice, whole wheat bread, and whole grain products
  3. For your protein, if you eat meat, choose lean meats. Other sources of protein can be fish, eggs, and cheese. Plant foods are also a good source of protein — legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas), nuts, soy (for example tofu), and seeds
  4. When preparing foods, use cooking methods that utilize little to no added fats such as baking, broiling, steaming, etc. If cooking with fats, use vegetable oils such as olive oil or safflower oil
  5. Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt) are recommended as a source of Calcium and Vitamin D, however, they are not a necessary part of your diet. If you do consume dairy products, choose low fat or fat free options. Calcium can also be found in a variety of plant foods and many other foods are fortified with Vitamin D.

My dear Houstonians, I hope this information inspires you to make healthy changes to your diet. Care for your bodies be vigilant of what you let into your bodies. Each one of you is special, your body is special, and there is no replacement.

Until next time, take care and God bless you!

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