New guidelines favour plant-based foods and discourage processed foods

woman with basket of apples at autumn garden

The proposed guiding principles for a new version of Canada’s Food Guide follow a nutrition-based approach, which advises people what to eat, what not to eat and how to eat. The emphasis is on eating more plant-based foods, while allowing for healthier, leaner animal foods. It’s important to limit reliance on processed foods high in sodium, sugars or saturated fat, and enjoy meals with family and friends.

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Social connections are good medicine for your mind and body

Sunday afternoon with friends

Studies show that older adults who are socially isolated have a higher risk of developing depression and anxiety. People who are socially connected are less likely to develop physical and mental health problems, and they live longer on average than those who are socially isolated. Retirement communities offer older adults, whose social networks often get smaller, many ways to socialize each day through activities and broaden their social networks.

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Boost your health by fostering positive emotions each day

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Research shows that people who experience small positive emotions through their daily activities and interactions flourish and enjoy better health. The top ten emotions people feel most often include love, joy, gratitude, hope, amusement, inspiration and awe. Older adults can maintain a healthy emotional outlook and experience many small moments of positive emotion each day through recreational activities ranging from dancing, singing and fitness classes to reading, acting, painting and e-mailing grandchildren.

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9 ways to lower your dementia risk

Senior Man Carrying Senior Woman On Walk In Countryside

More than 550,000 Canadians are now living with dementia, and 937,000 are projected to be living with the disease in 15 years. A major new international study concludes that up to one-third of cases could be prevented by addressing nine modifiable health and lifestyle factors. You can lower dementia risk by being physically active, staying socially connected, controlling blood sugar and blood pressure, and learning daily.

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Essential Conversations with Dr. Amy: Communicating and planning for how you want to live

Father and adult son fishing lakeside, close-up

Every person I talk with about aging tells me they want to continue to make their own decisions about where and how they want to live as they get older. Yet, when I ask if they have taken steps to ensure they will have the life they want as they age, very few have done much—if any—planning. I believe that planning for our later years is extremely important, as it prevents us from being reactive in the face of changes that can be significant. Simply put, proactivity creates a much greater likelihood that we will get what we want as we age. An effective way to plan for our later years involves a three-part process: Contemplation, engaging thought partners, and communicating our needs and wants to people important to us.

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Words of wisdom: Reading your way to health and longevity

Red cup of coffee or tea, glasses and old book on wooden table n

A 2016 Yale University study looked at a group of 3,635 seniors, dividing them into three categories: non-book-readers; readers who read 3.5 hours per week or less; and book readers who read more than 3.5 hours per week. Regardless of other factors influencing longevity, the scientists found that the book readers who read more than 3.5 hours per week lived almost two years longer than the other two groups. Interestingly, participants had to read books to achieve this gain—reading newspapers or magazines didn’t have the same benefit.

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Lifelong learning is a health elixir for seniors

woman reading a book and in her hand she holds a pair of eyeglasses

As an older adult, you have the time and the freedom to choose what and how you want to learn, based on your interests. Research shows people who keep on learning as seniors sharpen their minds, improve their judgement and reasoning, and reduce their risk of cognitive decline. Lifelong learning can offer other health benefits too—by boosting immunity, lowering anxiety, overcoming social isolation and lifting your mood.

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For seniors, staying connected digitally means staying connected socially

Couple looking at laptop

The digital divide among generations is growing smaller. A 2017 American Pew Research Center survey showed that Internet use among seniors has grown steadily over the past decade, with 67% of adults ages 65 and older reporting that they are now online. Smartphone ownership among American seniors has doubled over the past five years, and there’s no reason to believe that Canada is any different.

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