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Foods for Long Life and Well-Being

The time to start eating them is now.

Antioxidant "Superfoods" to Protect Your Cells and Heart continued...

As you get older, the amount of minerals in your bones decrease. Too little calcium increases your risk for osteoporosis and, with it, disabling or life-threatening fractures

Dairy products are the best source of calcium. Choose skim milk, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese to avoid saturated fats. A single serving can provide you with 30% of the 1,000 milligrams a day you need. You can also add calcium to your diet with calcium-enriched cereals and orange juice. Foods such as dark green vegetables, dried beans, and sardines also contain calcium.

Won't taking a calcium supplement do the trick? Sure, says William Hart, but calcium-rich foods are also high in protein needed for bone and muscle strength.

While you're adding calcium to your diet, don't forget to exercise. Your bones will thank you later. "Calcium alone isn't enough. Add weight-bearing exercise as well," says Hart. Take the stairs, park at the far end of the parking lot, walk wherever you can. You'll help the calcium do its job."

Water for Energy and Your Skin

Most people don't drink enough water," says nutritionist Susan Ayersman. "We need water to flush out toxins, keep our tissues hydrated, keep our energy up."

Water is also essential if you're eating high-fiber foods, says Leslie Bonci at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Water helps fiber do its job.

Don't stint on water just because you don't want to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, says Bonci. "Just be strategic about when you drink it," she says. "Drinking throughout the day, and not just before you go to bed should keep you from having to get up during the night."

If plain water doesn't quite do it for you, add slices of lemon, lime, or orange for flavor without calories. Or try a sprig of mint for a refreshing change of pace.

The Bottom Line

Don't be overwhelmed with all these suggestions. You don't need to add everything in at once. "Make haste slowly," says Bonci. "Add a bowl of oatmeal in the morning, replace a glass of milk with soy milk...just take it one step at a time."

Agrees Hart: "It's simply a matter of deciding to get the foods into your diet."

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Reviewed on August 28, 2007

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