Happy Monday! If you have not yet read my latest On Nutrition column in yesterday’s Seattle Times, “Four ways to bring out the life in your years” (hint: good nutrition is one), please peruse it.
This is a topic near and dear to my heart (especially after spending 10 weeks of my dietetic internship in a hospital, and seeing patient after patient with a laundry list of chronic illnesses and an overall patina of unwellness), so I was thrilled when the latest issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter (put out by Center for Science in the Public Interest) arrived in the mail a few days ago. Michael Jacobsen’s letter from the editor included an excerpt from a reader e-mail. The reader, a woman, said that in spite of leading an extremely healthy lifestyle for more than 20 years (healthy weight, non-smoking, semi-vegetarian, lots of physical activity, no sugar-sweetened beverages, occasional glass of wine), she developed breast cancer at age 60 and now has slightly high blood pressure (which she said runs in her family).
“OK,” you’re saying, “that sucks…but what’s the point?” The point is that this woman has has all kinds of people questioning why she bothers with her healthy lifestyle if she’s developing chronic diseases, anyway (i.e., why not throw in the towel, fill the freezer with ice cream and stop exercising). Her response (bless her), is this:

“My only comeback, and the one I truly believe, is that regardless of what eventually kills me, I have boundless energy and feel great every day.”

Yes, yes, yes! Life isn’t just about quantity, it’s about quality. Here are some additional links related to the topic at hand:
A special mention for a Huffington Post article by Dr. David Katz, “What REALLY kills us.” Hint: 80 percent of total deaths can be tracked back to tobacco, diet and physical activity. But even better is how he references the sucking of life from your years:

“But what makes death tragic is not that it happens — we are all mortal — but that it happens too soon. And even worse, that it happens after a long period of illness drains away vitality, capacity, and the pleasure of living. Chronic disease can produce a long, lingering twilight of quasi-living, before adding to that injury the insult of a premature death.”

Precisely, my dear readers. Sadly, a healthy old age is not a great motivator for many people, in part because we are increasingly wired for instant, not delayed, gratification. For me, it is very much a motivator. When I’m 60-plus, I too want to have boundless energy and feel great every day!