Healthy Eating and Physical Activity


We all hope to achieve or merit a long life. Today, there are many people living into their 90’s and even 100’s. But a long lifespan doesn’t equal “healthspan.” In fact, many people in their 40’s & 50’s are dealing with disease and disability.  These can include chronic health issues such as stroke, diabetes, cardiovascular, arthritis, cancer, gastrointestinal, osteoporosis, chronic pain, cognitive decline, renal dysfunction, pulmonary issues and inflammatory issues are plaguing the US and other Western societies. These can limit mobility, energy and independence. 

One can’t control every aspect of aging but infirmary doesn’t have to be your destiny.  Enhancing vitality as one ages is an important goal we should all aspire to. Nutrition is accepted as a key factor for longevity and healthy aging. One way to do this is to incorporate a good diet. One’s diet can be very specific from person to person. What may be a nutritious choice for one person may be another person’s poison. 

Everyone has a set of genes that can be turned on or off by epigenetic influence. Epigenetics is the study of gene expression. Different environmental factors including diet quality, overeating and physical activity are just some factors that can influence your genes. To optimize health, one should focus on nutrient density while crowding out sweets and zero nutrient foods. These zero nutrient foods add calories and more frighteningly increase inflammation in the body. As we age, we can’t fight off the massive and chronic insults to our bodies that we are assaulting it with. It’s no wonder most Americans are chronically tired, in pain and may be dealing with disease.

A person's epigenetic expression can be influenced by physical activity including strength, balance, flexibility, and cardiovascular training. Active recovery days of just walking may also influence one’s epigenetic expression. In an article from March 1, 2019, The Harvard Alumni Health Study stated that "lifelong physical activity leads to epigenetic modifications in skeletal muscle influencing expression of genes with potential impact on insulin sensitivity, glycolytic (the pathway that converts glucose into energy) and oxidative (process in which oxygen is used to make energy from carbohydrates) metabolism and muscle regeneration.”    

One can’t expect the body to function optimally if one isn’t feeding it optimally. A high quality Mediterranean style diet filled with different anti-inflammatory foods has had multiple studies that suggest this is a good place to start with better nutrient consumption. One must also drink adequate water from clean sources. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I had to make sure my patients drank when they were under-hydrated or even dangerously dehydrated. As a general rule it’s smart to drink half your body weight in ounces. For example- if one weighs 150 lbs, one should drink 75 ounces of water during the day. (Another blog will follow regarding hydration.) If one is slightly dehydrated, it can cause lower blood pressure, headache, fatigue, dizziness and lightheadedness among some of possible symptoms. These can cause a decrease in strength and endurance during activity or even during rest. It can also cause you to become more likely to injure yourself during exercise or regular everyday activities.

Robin Eckman, OT, INHC, CFPS, NASM-CPT, CEO of Vitality-OT 6/27/23 

Anything shared by Vitality-OT is for informational purposes only. This information is not meant  to diagnose or advise treatment nor specific medical advice. It is always wise to work with your personal physician.