Healthy to Age 100: 5 Tips from a Top Doctor

Wearable_fitness_JOUR_36253_448800Thinking about improving your health? You might listen to David Carr, M.D., the clinical director for the Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science for Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Carr has reviewed thousands of medical studies in his practice and has some positive news about healthy aging: we can achieve significantly healthier outcomes with easy lifestyle changes and less effort than you might think.

“Exercise is number one,” Dr. Carr says. “There are studies that suggest regular physical activity can have positive effects on physical health, quality of life, and cognition. Even as little as 20 minutes of walking a day can yield great benefits.”

Thirty minutes of exercise, 5 times a week, is the minimum bar set by the Department of Health and Human Services.IMG_20151028_113009

It is easy to build up gradually in your regular routine. For example, choose the stairs instead of the elevator. Park at the distant side of a parking lot instead of circling until a spot near an entrance opens.

Dr. Carr’s longevity prescription also includes a workout for your brain and social life. “Cognitive and social stimulation are number two,” he says. “There is simply not much stimulation if you stay home alone and watch TV. The brain is like a muscle — it needs to be used, stimulated, and pushed.”

In his medical practice, Carr has found having a “care” is part of the “cure”, because people who have social connections live longer.1000102_10201651982325609_766739615_n

“Interacting with other people in social situations is crucial. It’s also important to keep your hobbies going – board games, puzzles, cards, playing a musical instrument or staying active in volunteer work,” are a few of the suggestions Dr. Carr offers.

caroline-attwood-225496-unsplash - CopyDr. Carr’s number 3 tip is focused on your plate: “A good heart healthy diet will probably also turn out to be great for the brain,” he says. “You should eat plenty of fruits and vegetables every day and consume fish at least a couple of times a week.”

His next tip for living to 100 or more includes regular health checks to catch diseases early when they’re still treatable.

202874“Controlling risk factors for vascular disease is tip number four. We know the number one killer of the brain and heart is vascular disease or atherosclerosis. If you have high blood sugar, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure, you should see your family doctor for treatment, and keep those risk factors under control.”

Dr. Carr finds relaxation to be vital. “I’m convinced that high stress levels over a lifetime can have a very negative impact on our organ systems,” he says. “So trying to keep stress under control is probably the fifth leg of the table.”DEYVTHFARF

Too Good to Be Healthy Crunchy Frozen Yogurt Bananas

A cool treat packed with nutrition is a recipe I had to share. These fruit based treats are also easy to make.all_kinids_bannas

“Too Good to Be Healthy Crunchy Frozen Yogurt Bananas”  may become a favorite family snack as they did for the recipe’s creator Sandra Leal.

Easy to make, each banana treat comes in for 132 calories and delivers 4 grams protein and 3 grams of fiber.

Ingredients:
3 bananas, cut in half and skewered with Popsicle sticks
1 container non-fat Greek yogurt
1.5 cups toasted granola
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Directions:
Once the bananas are skewered, roll them in cinnamon and nutmeg. Then roll them in Greek yogurt, followed by the granola. Wrap in plastic and freeze for about 4 hours.thumb_2317_recipe_b

Any non-fat Greek yogurt will work, but I have a favorite for several reasons. A farmer owned dairy in my area, Prairie Farms, introduced a new line of 100 calorie Greek Yogurt a few months ago and I love it! Each 5.3-ounce cup contains authentic strained non-fat yogurt made with natural ingredients and produced using milk from cows not treated with artificial growth hormones. Plus each cup contains 12 grams of protein and the yogurt is naturally sweetened with Stevia and free from artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors.

Another reason I look for this yogurt in stores is that Prairie Farms Dairy represents over 700 farm families. The dairy also helps families in need and non-profit organizations. The Prairie Farms charitable giving program, Our Caps, Your Cause, supports a variety of non-profit organizations and gives consumers a voice in helping local causes.