Senior Nutrition: Can We Truly Have Wellness as We Age?

I recently received a letter from a lifelong friend, and it was so poignant that I thought to share parts of it with my readers. As she related her current conditions to me, I could identify with her to some degree, but fortunately not to the full extent.

For the purposes of this blog post, I’ll call my friend Jane. She recently celebrated her 62nd birthday, and a few years back I advised her that although she was in fairly good shape, she should remember that the natural law acts in our lives for better or worse. It looks like I was right! After following a somewhat watered down Weston A. Price diet (though not staying involved to the degree I recommended), and seeing her Standard Process chiropractor at least 6 times a year, it now looks like the house of cards is coming down!

As I told Jane, what we often call Mother Nature could more formally be described as the “natural law.” This law is akin to other universal laws that not many of us are studied on, and it’s therefore difficult to understand how they fully affect our wellbeing. Let me elaborate a bit. During my active practice, it was difficult to deal with clients who were very angry and blamed their illnesses on GMOs, Monsanto, or other companies that produce “Frankenfoods” full of high fructose corn syrup and other toxic substances.

Most people don’t understand how damaging these unnatural ingredients are. But not knowing doesn’t change the fact that consuming such toxic substances for long periods of time can cause devastating effects on the body, mind, and spirit. As a newbie nutritionist, I didn’t fully understand the power or function of the natural law. At best, I would simply try to avoid my client’s anger or surprise at developing some difficult health issue. I would simply go on to treat their symptoms.

At some point in time, as I matured into my practice, it occurred to me that it was a mistake to blame GMOs, Monsanto, and other ersatz-food companies for our health issues. Even God is sometimes indicted and blamed directly for allowing so many devastating things to happen to our health or the health of our loved ones. Like the dawning of the sun, this realization came over me ever so slowly. But I finally understood that human beings were the only species granted the unique gift of free will! We can eat what we want, learn new skills, kill people, steal, participate in dangerous activities, and so on. Free will means that we make our own choices. But for better or worse, we must remember that our choices have consequences.

Among other things, our individual circumstances and how we were reared affect how we each use the magnificent gift of free will. This is an extensive, complicated subject, and a complete explanation would need its own book, one written by some truly gifted thinkers and writers. Nevertheless, I hope that what I’ve briefly described here will be sufficient.

Once I grasped these concepts, I began to counsel my clients that it wasn’t necessary to blame their circumstances on anyone or anything else. To reverse the damage caused by ignorance or deliberate violation of the natural law, they just needed to learn how to turn it to their benefit!

When I told my clients the power was in their hands, like magic, their anger melted away. They wanted solutions, and a newfound sense of humility and cooperation made them willing to listen to my recommendations.

If we develop an illness or experience our bodies aging in painful ways, we need to acknowledge the part we played in the process and examine how we lived. More importantly, we must implement positive changes right away to help ourselves heal. If we can admit to our own accountability with a positive and joyful attitude, rather than blame others and waste yet more time on anger or regret, we have a much better chance of halting deteriorating health conditions. The sooner you invest precious time into learning how to make better health choices, the better. (Please note that I’m only referring to those health issues that we can control, at least to some extant. I’m not talking about birth defects or other conditions beyond our power to improve with free will alone. But that is fodder for another time.)

Do the consequences of aging differ from person to person? Yes, of course they do. But the consequences may be more severe for those who were not judicious about preserving their health when they were younger. I know of several youthful seniors who belong to the same group of Standard Process professionals that I do. Vivian Rice is one holistic practitioner in particular who comes to mind. A bundle of joy at 85, she still runs a full practice and is one of those fortunate seniors we all hope to emulate. Vivian somehow mastered the natural law in such a way that her mind, body, and spirit are all still in excellent shape. Her story is told in the wonderful book Wild Rice: The Biography of Vivian Lillie Rice, which should be required reading for anyone interested in learning how to stay well at age 70 and beyond.

Without further ado, here is the portion of Jane’s letter that I think many of you may identify with. It’s followed by recommendations for some of my favorite healthy snacks and whole-food supplements. I offer these recommendations not only to my good friend, “Come Lately” Jane, but also to you, my readers.

Dear Maria,

I hope you are well and that life remains exciting and purposeful for you. My situation has gotten worse, and although you’ve given me so much advice in the past, I am somewhat embarrassed to ask for your help. Nevertheless, I decided to pocket my pride and do just that—ask for your help! I know that you told me some years ago to join the Weston A. Price Foundation and start attending their free chapter meetings, and also that I could find a list of local chapters for every state, and even some overseas, on their website.

Had I attended the meetings some years back, I would know more about nourishing foods, and I would have had support in my quest for superior health as I age.

As well, you advised me to be sure to see my Standard Process chiropractor, who I found on their website. I managed to go a few times, but then decided it might not be as necessary as you told me it was.

Well, I was wrong, and I have already called my chiropractor to make a much-needed appointment.

If you would kindly give me some pointers to start with at this time, I would be most grateful. I am also pledging to get to your Cook Your Way to Wellness DVD and booklet for a better look at your passionate recommendations for how to use lacto-fermentation to get my digestive tract moving again.

Love,
Jane

My Dear Jane,

I am glad that you are taking some positive steps to get yourself going in the right direction. Seeing a holistic practitioner or your chiropractor and turning your diet around are the main things that will prove to you that aging bodies have the capacity to heal, and it will allow you to live a higher quality of life than it seems you are now experiencing.

To attempt a full discussion of these issues would require a book! Nevertheless, let’s take a more global approach, which is the best I can do in a letter. We will talk after you’ve been to your chiropractor and also had a chance to meet with your chapter leader at the next Weston A. Price meeting.

The basic thrust for all seniors, in my opinion, is that they understand the profound changes in their body’s internal and external structure. Many of us live alone, and we seem to lose the incentive to cook properly prepared and balanced meals. Instead we find ourselves reaching for junk food snacks and other prepackaged foods. Last but not least, many seniors experience the waning of stamina and seem to piddle away much of their precious time in thoughts of the past. Sad but true!

Depending on the previous care we took with our health, we no longer produce hormones and other requirements of the body. We should consider moving from the standard American diet and synthetic supplements towards well-chosen, easy-to-make, nutrient-dense foods and snacks. Also, we should consider increasing our intake of the best whole-food supplements to fill in any nutritional gaps. My recommendation is Standard Process supplements.

Getting Started

Nutrient-Dense Foods and Snacks: My favorites include raw milk, raw cheese, bone broth soups, crispy nuts, raw honey, and whole grain porridges. As you acquaint yourself with other Weston A. Price members, you’ll learn of numerous other foods and snacks that are simple but profoundly healthful. (See below for a few simple healthy snack recipes.)

Whole Food Supplements: My favorites include Calci-Food Powder (bone meal); the multivitamin Catalyn; Calcium Lactate Powder for calcium and magnesium; Cataplex B, B12, C, and E for vitamins the body does not produce on its own; and Okra Pepsin E-3 for intestinal health. Remember that your Standard Process practitioner can suggest other supplements you may need.

I am grateful, Jane, that you are still alive and have the opportunity to experience this simple but remarkable change in your life. I hope to talk to you soon.

Your friend,
Maria

Easy Nutrient-Dense Snacks for My Senior Friends

Pumpkin Pie in a Bowl
—A Traditional Cook original.

For the best results, be sure to use fresh, organic pumpkin. To make this high-carotene dish even more nourishing, whip up some raw cream and put several dollops on top.

Note: This recipe can be made with canned pumpkin as well. Simply substitute 1 (15 oz.) can BPA-free organic pumpkin (I recommend Farmer’s Market Organic Canned Pumpkin Puree). Begin with step 2, using the canned pumpkin in place of the fresh baked pumpkin.

Ingredients
1 small organic pumpkin (about 6-inches in diameter)
1 tablespoon coconut oil, plus more for roasting pumpkin
2 tablespoons raw honey, or to taste
1 tablespoon real butter (no pseudo-butter spreads)
1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
½ teaspoon nutmeg, or to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds (discard or save for later use). Rub top of pumpkin skins lightly with coconut oil. Place in a covered baking dish. Bake for approximately 40–45 minutes, or until soft. Remove from oven and allow pumpkin to cool. If not using immediately, freeze or save for next day.
  2. Lower oven temp to 350°F. After pumpkin has thoroughly cooled, scrape out the flesh and discard the skin. Place pumpkin flesh in a mixing bowl. Add raw honey, coconut oil, butter, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mix thoroughly. If necessary, adjust spices to taste.
  3. Lightly oil another baking dish and pile in the pumpkin mixture. Dot with butter and heat for approximately 20 minutes.

Sugar-Free No-Bake Coconut Cookies
—Adapted with permission from Nicole Eckman, RD

These cookies are a great way to get more coconut oil into your diet and prevent a hypoglycemic event from coming on. Children love them, and they offer great antimicrobial properties to kids who have a colds. They contain no sugar and therefore make for a safe snack. If you get slightly nauseous when you eat them, it may be an indication that you have a gallbladder or bile issue that prevents you from digesting fat properly.

Special medicinal effect: Eat as a snack as soon as you’re aware of a hypoglycemic event coming on, or in time to prevent one. 

Ingredients
1½–2 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tablespoon raw carob powder (optional)
½ cup coconut oil, slightly melted
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon organic almond or peanut butter (optional)

Instructions

  1. Pulse all ingredients in blender or food processor until creamy, stopping to scrape down the sides and bottom. If mixture is too dry, add 1–2 tablespoons coconut oil at a time to insure it doesn’t get too runny. (Dryness might also be caused by larger coconut flakes, so adjust amount if needed.)
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (or use a stoneware cookie sheet, which requires no paper).
  3. Scoop a tablespoon (or a bit more) of dough into the palm of your hand. Squeeze into the shape of a small ball. The dough should be sticky enough to stay together. Place coconut ball onto cookie sheet and flatten gently into round “cookies.” Store in fridge or freezer until solid. These no-bake cookies may usually be left on the counter after they’ve been frozen (depending on the heat in your kitchen).

An afterthought from the Traditional Cook... 

“No therapy or drug known to modern medical science can rebuild tissue that has been damaged by disease or trauma. Food alone can accomplish this feat. It is for this reason that nutrition is an indispensable weapon against disease.”
—Dr. Bernard Jensen (1908–2001)

Photo from iStock/IPGGutenbergUKLtd

Maria Atwood, CNHP

Maria Atwood is a semi-retired Certified Natural Health Professional and Weston A. Price Chapter Leader in Colorado Springs, CO. Her website, Traditional Cook, offers the The Lee Household Flour Mill, originally invented by Royal Lee, inventor of Standard Process Supplements. She also carries the WonderMix mixer as well as the Wondermill grain mill. Also check out Maria’s “Cook Your Way to Wellness” DVD (also available on Vimeo). Be sure to join the Selene River Press newsletter to follow Maria’s Tips from The Traditional Cook blog.

Products by Maria Atwood

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