January 1st, 2009
09:30 AM ET

Do any foods help us age healthily?

As a new feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers’ questions. Here’s a question for Dr. Gupta.

Asked by Carly, Raleigh, North Carolina

"I am a woman in my mid-30's. Are there certain foods I should be consuming as I age?"


Carly, I am happy to hear that at 30 you are already thinking about your health as you age. As a doctor, it’s all too common for me to see people wait until their golden years to begin thinking about their health.

I did a lot of research for my book, “Chasing Life,” on the importance of eating a variety of foods as we age. I discovered that we really are what we eat. What we consume becomes even more important as we age because our bodies need different nutrients in our 30s and 40s than it did at age 15.

Men and women in their 30s should eat a lot of lean protein such as fish, chicken, or for vegetarians, tofu. Protein builds up muscle and bone mass, which is something we begin to lose after age 30. Also, boost bone density by consuming foods high in calcium and vitamin D such as skim or soy milk.

When we hit the big 4-0 our metabolism begins to really slow down. If you are still eating lots of junk food it’s time to cut it out of your diet once and for all. Concentrate on heart-healthy foods such as whole grains and nuts as well as fruits, veggies and yogurt.

And don’t skimp on your greens. Try to eat them at least three times a week; they are great for the eyes! Spinach and kale are great options because they’re loaded with the nutrient lutein. Studies have showed that lutein is beneficial in preventing macular degeneration.

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. jan lave

    Have you heard of new research on calorie restriction and the warnings being posted about it?

    I just heard about this, and being a long-time calorie counter and the one responsible for my family's nutrition, I take it pretty seriously.

    Basically, it says that calorie restriction causes brain function loss – and very quickly! (the site I saw was http://www.dietingscience.com)

    It doesn't seem like hype because real scientists did the research.
    Wassup with this???

    January 2, 2009 at 09:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Michael Edson, MS, L.Ac.

    Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two carotenoids found in both the retina and lens of the eyes that act as both powerful antioxidants, as well as like a having pair of "internal sunglasses" as they help filter UVA/UVB and blue light.

    One or both of these nutrients can be found in such foods as green, leafy vegetables, orange and yellow peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, corn and eggs.

    A number of peer review research studies have shown that supplementing with lutein and zeaxanthin can significantly reduce the changes of getting macular degeneration. Taking fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids) daily is also proving invaluable in helping prevent the onset of Macular Degeneration. These nutrients are also essential to take for those with macular degeneration in helping preserve vision as has been shown on the recent AREDS2 study.

    January 2, 2009 at 11:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. darlene gagne-parnass

    i couldn't agree with you more. in 2001 i was diagnosed w/chrones disease & all the associated other things that go along w/it.

    January 22, 2009 at 12:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Ron

    Jan –
    Regarding your inquiry about the Calorie Restriction report from DietingScience.com, I did a little digging. As with any report, you have to check your sources.
    The first thing I always do is visit WhoIs.sc and look up the owner of the domain name. When I looked up DietingScience.com, I found it was owned by FNR Commerce Development. Of course, first thoughts about anything giving advice and writting by an entity called "Commerce Development" should be carefully scrutinized.

    A quick Google search on "FNR Commerce Development" led to a few pages about the company and its sole owner Felicia Rosenberg. Turns out FNR owns 162 domain names. Wow. What are they, you ask?



    You get the idea. Ready for the kicker? These sites all have advertisements that, when clicked on (and I clicked to see) lead you straight to a "Binge Diet" protocol. What would fuel a seller's success rate that was selling a diet based on binging?

    An article stating that calorie restriction was unhealthy, or course.

    I almost stopped my research there. But being in the medical field myself, I couldn't help but dig a little deeper and read up on Dr. Traci Mann, co-author of the cited study.

    An interview with Dr Mann from the UCLA Newsroom (she is based at UCLA) clearly states "While the researchers analyzed 31 dieting studies, they have not evaluated specific diets."

    She evaluated diets, not the lifestyle of calorie restriction. Her research paper is all about the yo-yo effects of on-again off-again dieting and its effect on the dieter. Read up on Calorie Restriction for Optimal Nutrition.

    Watch out for the scare tactics of snake oil salespersons like Felicia Rosenberg.

    Kind Regards,

    February 18, 2010 at 22:13 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.