A healthier mom in 5..4..3..2..1

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There’s no other like the greatest woman in the world. Every family has one, yet she is irreplaceable. So, if you plan to have her around for much, much longer, here are five tips to keep her healthy and happy—certainly the best things you can do for her this Mother’s Day.

1.) Keep her socially active. Make it a point (as often as you can) to gather her friends and relatives and her loved ones for get-togethers or reunions.

Inquirer Science and Health had earlier interviewed Okinawan health specialists. Okinawa is among the world’s Blue Zones. In Blue Zones, it would be typical for humans to live to their 80s, 90s and even to their centenaries healthier and happier. Etsuko Higa, a musicologist in Okinawa who has directed 27 theater groups of the elderly, said social cohesion combined with physical activities like singing and dancing have kept Okinawa’s elderly healthy.

Bert Griffith, naturopathic doctor and director of the Okinawa Wellness Teaching Center in Okinawa, told Inquirer: “If you are socially connected, you have a good chance of living a long and healthy life.” Griffith added that in Okinawa, elderly groups perform plays and dances once a week, practice martial arts, learn flower arrangements and chat.

“They need companionship and social life. It has been proven with all the research studies that if a person lives alone, his will to live (diminishes). The purpose in life (fades). At age 30 to 50 you’re still full of energy. By the time you’re 65, you’re out of energy, and unless the energy is rejuvenated, you pass away early. So community living will prolong your life,” Eping Ao, president of PCK and the Saujana Premier proponent, explained to Inquirer.

2.) Feed her fresh, feed her plants. Make an effort to research on delicious plant-based, fresh food for her. These foods—devoid of cholesterol-laden, artery-clogging animal food—can be truly tasty, and enjoyable to eat. Avoid bringing her something that may be healthy, but tastes like cardboard. It takes some research skill, lots of online surfing, and consultations with plant-based nutritionists to do it. For starters, check out www.happycow.net so you can start treating her to yummy vegetarian restaurants, or join Pinoyvegs at Facebook (where some awesome vegan chefs are members).

Ramesh Sharma, professor of the Department of Biochemistry, North Eastern Hill University, Shillong, India, said: “Dietary restrictions, the way Okinawans do it, can be enforced even if one lives in the city. A person should eat only 80 percent of what he or she is used to eating.”

Griffith said that urban dwellers should eat healthy to age healthy. “Genes load the gun and lifestyle pulls the trigger.”

3.) Visit a Blue Zone. Of course, this may entail some large amounts of spending, but it may be all worth it. Where are these Blue Zones?

Loma Linda in California, Okinawa in Japan and the Italian island of Sardinia are just some examples of Blue Zones. The Sun City in Arizona and Florida are where active seniors live together.

Here in the Philippines, considered as the would-be Blue Zone (one that we all should watch out for) is a 16-hectare sprawl of hilly land in Silang, Cavite—30 minutes down from Tagaytay City, off the Sta. Rosa-Tagaytay Road. The air is energizing and fresh, with temperatures two degrees lower than the average in the lowlands. Saujana Premier, which has a team of wellness experts and plant-based nutritionists, is a place for retirement-age citizens to live in an environment and a lifestyle infused with holistic wellness practices with round-the-clock professional guidance.

4.) Less milk, please. Contrary to what the dairy industry would insist, animal-based food products are not the way to go. Scientist Jane Plant, author of the “No Dairy Breast Cancer Prevention Program,” pointed out that calcium is, in fact, lost from the body as a result of ingesting animal-based proteins.

“A diet high in animal-based proteins increases the amount of acid in the body. This triggers a buffering mechanism, which releases stored calcium from the bones. The body would normally reabsorb the calcium released, but the animal protein inhibits the parathyroid function that controls this reabsorption. The body then excretes the calcium, causing bone loss.”

Plant then cited research suggesting that “a diet high in vegetable protein might actually be somewhat protective against osteoporosis.”

The book “The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health” cited numerous studies showing countries that consumed the most cow’s milk and its products also had the highest fracture rates and the worst bone health among its populace. Author T. Colin Campbell cited a Lancet study that explained animal protein, unlike plant protein, did increase the acid load in the body.

5.) Assist her on healthy aging. How can this be achieved? The Third Okinawa International Conference on Longevity, Public Health and Policy in 2007, which Inquirer Health attended, enumerated the following. Find how your mom can achieve these:

Get enough sleep (at night). Take a stroll in the park. Buy a pedometer and walk 10,000 steps a day. Try going meatless. Eat more fruits and vegetables. Avoid foods with trans fats found in cookies, crackers, icing, potato chips, stick margarine and microwave popcorn. About 80 percent of trans fat in American diet comes from factory-produced, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Drink eight glasses of water at proper intervals. Embrace spirituality. Stop smoking.

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