Mountaintop Medicine: Nutrition Notes — Nutrition Tips for Longevity

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Hello! Cheers to the 20th edition of Mountaintop Medicine: Nutrition Notes! For this week’s article, I want to give you some of my best nutrition tips to live a longer, fuller, and healthier life.

Start your day with breakfast- it truly is the most important meal of the day! Whether or not you like to eat breakfast first thing in the morning, doing so helps fuel us properly for the rest of the day. Aim for a meal that has 20-30 grams of protein along with a source of fiber, such as fresh fruit or whole grains like oatmeal or a slice of whole grain toast. If you do not like a large meal in the morning, opt for something smaller, such as Greek yogurt, granola, and fresh berries.

Make half your plate fruits and vegetables. This is the best way to ensure that you are getting enough of these vital foods that are rich in vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber while adding color, flavor, and texture to your plate. Aim for a variety of at least 2 cups of fruits and 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily.

Leah Gardner, EPH Registered Dietitian

Be mindful of portion sizes. Aim for half a plate of fruits and vegetables and use the other half for grains and starchy carbs and protein sources.

Pay attention to food labels. Also known as the nutrition facts label on the back of processed and pre-packaged foods, this label has valuable information about the calories, fat, added sugars, sodium content, etc. of these foods. This label is especially useful when tracking the intake of any one of these nutrients.

Make nutritious snacks. Preparing snacks that contain a source of fiber and protein will best keep you sustained in between meals, especially on busy days or when you are in a rush to get out the door in the mornings. Try raw veggies with cottage cheese or hummus, or a couple of tablespoons of nut or seed butter with an apple or banana.

Limit added sugars. Foods such as candies, chocolates, desserts, sugary coffees, and soda are all high in added sugars that contribute to empty calories and have little nutritional value and can lead to being overweight or obese when eaten in excess. A good rule of thumb is to limit these foods to 2-3 servings per week.

Make family time a priority when eating. Following principles of mindful eating, making at least a few meals a week consisting of eating as a family at the dinner table without distractions such as the TV, tablets, or smartphones has been proven to create a positive mindset around food and nutrition, especially for young children.

Incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet. Fruits, vegetables, starchy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, beans, and legumes are all important for an overall healthy diet. Focusing on eating these foods has many benefits for our bodies, but especially for our hearts and our digestive systems.

Eat more fatty fish. Salmon, tuna, herring, trout, sardines, and mackerel are all rich in healthy fats known as omega-3 fatty acids. This type of fat is important for our overall health, but especially for our brains as we get older because it is protective against cognitive decline.

Drink more water. Drinking an adequate amount of water each day is vital for maintaining proper hydration. Water has many essential functions in the body, which means they highly depend on it to

function properly. Aim to drink a minimum of 64-96 ounces of water daily and drink more when exercising or when outside in the heat for extended periods of time.

Stay active! A combination of aerobic and resistance training is important for strengthening our heart and endurance and for keeping our bones and muscles strong as we age. Children and teens should get 60 or more minutes of physical activity per day, and adults at least two hours and 30 minutes per week.

Consult your registered dietitian! I am now offering outpatient nutrition counseling services at Estes Park Health. I can provide nutrition education on a wide variety of topics from weight loss to almost every chronic health condition for individuals of any age. If you are interested, please contact your health provider for a referral.

If you have any questions or if there are any nutrition-related topics that you would like me to discuss here on Nutrition Notes, please reach out at!