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Good morning.

I was happy to be invited recently to contribute a regular Senior Corner column to the St. Helena Star.

A very quick “hi” to good friends Joice Beatty, Carroll Cotton, Julie Spencer, and Don and Dianne Fraser.

Let’s get right into today’s topic. To help us out with the proper diet for seniors is a friend, Joanne Koenig, who, lucky for us, is a registered dietitian.

Let’s hear what Joanne has to tell us:

“Because we are living longer, we are experiencing aches, pains, diseases, isolation, and, in some cases, depression. Unbelievably, much of these discomforts can be helped with good nutrition. Research in dietetics and nutrition is bringing us full circle back to simple, basic, fresh, wholesome, healthful foods.”

Joanne continues:

— A healthy aging diet is a fresh, wholesome, anti-inflammatory diet, which is the increasingly popular Mediterranean Diet.

— The Mediterranean Diet has been shown to reduce inflammation, help with depression and help to reduce the risk of debilitating chronic diseases common in advanced age including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

— Fruits and vegetables are the foundation of a healthy aging diet. We need about 8-10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day — 5 servings of deeply colored vegetables per day because deeply colored vegetables have micro-nutrients that decrease inflammation in our bodies and decrease our risk of inflammation and cardiovascular problems, and 3-4 servings of fresh fruits per day for their fiber and nutrients to help decrease inflammation.

— The less processing that our foods have the better. Our best bet on grains is whole grains such as quinoa, amaranth, brown rice, buckwheat, grouts, barley and steel cut oats. For our breads, the healthy choices are sprouted breads made from sprouted whole grains. Look for the words “ancient grains” on the package labeling and then read the nutrition and ingredient labels.

— What we eat can affect our energy and our good physical and mental health.

— We can look at farmers markets and our own gardens as personal medicine cabinets. Actually, the World Health Organization has stated that we can no longer depend on big drug companies for our health and that we need to look to our food supply.

— Try cooking stinging nettles as a side dish or brewing it as tea. It is a powerhouse of nutrients and so easy to grow. A remarkable spice is rosemary. Our ancestors knew it as the “remembrance” herb for remembering those who have died. There is some research that rosemary helps mitigate memory loss! Rosemary is great as a seasoning agent and can also be brewed into a tea. Another great spice is garlic, which has been shown to have a beneficial effect on blood pressure. Vinegar, preferably apple cider vinegar with the “mother” in it, consumed with food, can cut the glycemic response to up to a third.

— Have a colorful vegetable salad with a vinaigrette dressing before your meal. This ups your intake of vegetables and helps lower the glycemic responses to the foods that follow.

— If you are trying to kick the coffee habit, try roasted dandelion root with roasted chicory root as a coffee substitute. They taste great and herbalists say they are good for our livers.

Let’s take a little break. I’m excited about Joanne’s recommendations, aren’t you? I’d love to know more about the benefits of herbs, and will ask Joanne if she would do a little more research on that, plus ideas on how to use them. I know this is a lot to take in all at once. In the past, I’ve broken this down to two separate articles, but I’d love for you to get the whole thing today, and get started on eating healthy. OK, back to Joanne’s wonderful suggestions.

General nutrition suggestions:

— Consume fresh foods. Minimize processed foods and fast foods.

— Eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables. Use whole grains.

— Increase your use of plant protein as a substitute for meat at least two to three times per week.

— Increase your use of fish and chicken and eliminate red meats.

— Be aware of salt consumption. Don’t add salt to your foods. Use herbs instead.

— Aim for variety in your meals.

Many thanks, Joanne. I know we’ll be hearing more from you in the future. I look forward to seeing you all again next month. Write to me at


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