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The Wine Guy: Diet the key to staving off old age

Best of The Wine Guy

The Wine Guy

with Anthony Scarano

Do you wish to stay young and healthy regardless of how old you get? There is not a sane person in this world who would like to be sick and die young.

According to the latest research (January 2007) by Erica Battin, a registered dietician at the Center for Medicine at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, certain foods have been found to boost the immune system including red bell peppers, butternut squash, Brazil nuts, yogurt, papaya, soybeans, cantaloupe, spinach and whole grains. Spice such as paprika and liquorice, and the omega-3 fatty acids found in walnuts, flaxseed, ginger, and cold-water oily fish such as wild salmon, tuna, herring, mackerel, anchovies and sardines are good for the coronary system and can reduce inflammatory conditions such as arthritis.

Genetics, once thought to be the deciding factor in how one's body and mind held up to aging and how long one lived, is now believed to be less than 30 percent of this influence. The foods you eat, and don't eat, and how well you maintain your body, are the most crucial factor in determining bodily health, and goes a long way toward mental health as well.

According to a study published in the Journal of Neurology, fruit and vegetable intake - especially green leafy vegetables (lettuce, spinach) and cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, collard greens, brussels sprouts, kale, watercress, cabbage, turnips, arugula) - by persons 65 and older can protect against the body's decline during old age. The oldest subjects in the study benefited by consuming a lot of vegetables. Green leafy vegetables are typically low in calories, low in fat, high in protein per calorie, high in dietary fiber, high in iron and calcium, and very high in phytochemicals such as vitamin C, vitamin A, lutein and folic acid. Cruciferous vegetables contain both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, vitamin C and other vitamins, as well as various phytochemicals.

Eggs, meanwhile, may help stave off macular degeneration, the study claims. For bloodsugar control try barley, beans, bran (unsweetened), brown rice, lentils, low-fat milk, oatmeal, green peas, pumpernickel, rye and sourdough breads, sweet potatoes and whole grain crackers.

It is never too late to improve your health. The body has an amazing ability to heal itself if properly maintained and cared for, even if it has been abused and injured, so as long as one takes the initiative to eat right and exercise the body will typically respond well. And let us not forget the benefits of drinking wine with your meals each and every day. Two glasses a day with dinner can do you no harm and can only help improve your health, so like the old Nike commercials used to say, "just do it!"

Anthony Scarano is not a doctor. He is an 88-year-old Evergreen Park resident, winemaker and certified naturopath. Suggestions in this space are solely the opinions of Mr. Scarano based on years of independent study and personal experience, and may not be beneficial to health. Wine should be consumed in moderation, as overindulgence may be harmful to health.