Friday, December 14, 2007

The RealAge Diet

The RealAge Diet: A Giant Menu of Possibilities

Good food choices help you not only live healthier and lose weight, but also grow younger and stay young. How can you make informed choices about food?

The RealAge Diet is not a diet prescription and not a fad diet. It's not a stringent routine you follow morning, noon, and night, It's also not about restricting yourself or measuring calories day after day. Instead, the RealAge Diet is a giant menu of possibilities: a menu of choices for growing younger and staying young. A menu for a lifetime -- a long and healthy lifetime -- of good eating.

Every single day, you make hundreds of choices that affect your health and rate of aging. Choosing to exercise or not to exercise is such a choice. If you aren't physically active, you age more rapidly, because your heart, arteries, and immune system grow old prematurely. If you exercise regularly, you age more slowly, postponing the decline of your arteries and immune system' Choosing your bedtime is another health choice. Everything from brushing your teeth to buckling your seat belt to spending time with friends is a health choice that speeds up or slows down your rate of aging.

One choice that you make several times a day is whether or not to eat, and what to eat. Over and over, each and every day, you decide, "I'm hungry. I want to eat." How can you learn to make better decisions about food? How can you make food part of your plan to stay young longer?

For starters, you have to learn to love food. You may already love food, and that's great. Eating should be fun -- a main course of the good life.Your diet shouldn't be a prison sentence. When we think "diet," we think restriction, deprivation, and endless calorie counting. It doesn't have to be that way.

Unfortunately, too many of us have been raised to think about food the wrong way. Instead of celebrating food, we feel ambivalent about it. As a result, we get caught in a cycle of overindulgence and deprivation. Although we're obsessed with staying thin, as a nation our waistlines are widening. More than 55 percent of the U.S. population considers itself overweight. And for the most part, we eat uninteresting, unhealthful food that makes us gain weight. We eat food out of habit and convenience, instead of making our meals a focal point in our lives.

I spent many years eating food I didn't much think about-pizza, vending machine snacks, carbonated sodas -- only to go on semi-annual diets to lose the pounds that accumulated from this diet. I felt sluggish, and I was harming my body. My eat-now, diet-later approach was causing me to age faster than necessary. Worst of all, it wasn't much fun. I wasn't enjoying eating, and a lot of my food choices made me feel guilty.

Any activity you do every day of your life shouldn't be a burden. It should be a pleasure and a joy. The more you know about food and the more you make new foods a part of your life, the better you will eat and the more likely you will be to lose weight and feel good about yourself. Good eating should be an adventure for a lifetime. Don't worry about diet Plans and punishing yourself when you fall off the wagon. Instead, set out on a new beginning: food for life.
Eating the RealAge Way

The response to RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be? was overwhelming. I received thousands of e-mails and letters of thanks. People told me they loved having a way to measure their rate of aging and, even better, had found some simple steps for slowing that process. Most of all, they said, they liked knowing they were in the driver's seat, able to make choices that would affect their health. Indeed, genetics plays a far smaller role in aging than we thought. Almost 70 percent of premature aging is caused by choices we make. By making better choices, you can slow -- or even reverse-aging, regardless of your genetics.
What Is RealAge?

RealAge gouges how fast you're aging biologically. Some people age faster than average. Others age more slowly. What can you do to slow the sands of time and stay younger longer? If you have not yet calculated your RealAge, please take the full test online at, or complete the test in RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be, now available in paperback.
Science-Based Research

I'm a medical doctor and a scientist. My co-author, John La Puma, is a medical doctor, too. We are committed to the highest scientific standards. Indeed, the guiding principle of the RealAge concept is that only factors that have been scientifically proven to affect longevity and/or the quality of life are used to calculate a person's RealAge. Each factor must have been proven to affect longevity and/or the quality of life in no fewer than four peer-reviewed studies involving people, not animals.

When the RealAge team applied those criteria to more than twenty-five thousand scientific studies, we identified 127 factors that affect a person's RealAge, or rate of aging. These factors, which we discuss in detail on our website and in RealAge: Are You as Young as You Can Be?, include everything from cessation of smoking to flossing your teeth. Twenty-five of the factors concern exercise, food choices, and factors that affect food choices. In the four years since RealAge was written, we continued to study advances in scientific research for new factors that help you stay young. Even more factorslike eating an ounce of nuts five days a week-have been repeatedly shown to make your RealAge younger. In this book we discuss old and new nutritional factors and choices that make you younger relatively easily.

Every recommendation in this book is based on scientific evidence. Whenever a recommendation is not a purely scientific fact, it is always a suggestion about practical ways to achieve something that has been shown likely to be correct. When little is known on a subject, I tell you so and suggest how you might want to proceed, on the basis of what is known. I always point out that this information is an opinion, hypothesis, or educated guess.

As an accompaniment to this book, the RealAge team has built the RealAge Diet Nutrition Center on our website. There we offer many online tools and assessments that help you evaluate your own diet and eating needs. The assessments are personalized to you, so you get answers that fit your individual needs and profile.

Finding the Balance of Nutrients, Calories, and Fats

If there's one thing to remember about eating, it's this: Eat nutrient rich, calorie poor, and delicious.

Excerpted from

The RealAge Diet
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