Prioritize good nutrition to maintain greater independence

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Having just celebrated the Fourth of July, it's that time of year again when cookouts, fireworks and appreciating our independence come to mind.

Independence in the United States today means something different than it did in early Colonial America. We don't have to worry about being denied the privilege to practice our religion or our freedom of speech. We can live fuller lives because of the sacrifices of those who came before us and fought fiercely for the independence we enjoy today.

When you think about your personal health, do you give it as much concern as your independence? Isn't our health something that needs to be protected?

For many Americans, the popular opinion is, if you don't have your health you don't have your independence. So how do we protect our health?

You guessed it - lifestyle. Maintaining a balanced diet that can boost immunity and fight illness-causing toxins, along with appropriate exercise, is crucial for protecting your health and for aging independently. Believe it or not, lifestyle has more effect on your health than your genetics.

As you age, your muscle mass turnover is greater. Therefore, it is suggested that protein consumption be higher to maintain muscle mass, along with strengthening your muscles through exercise.

Our bones are connected to and stressed daily by our muscles. While this is a healthy interaction between working muscles and helps to strengthen our bones, we tend to lose vital calcium and other minerals faster with age.

Key factors to maintaining our bone health are adequate intake of calcium and vitamin D.

A deficiency in vitamin D has been validated as potentially increasing your chances of falling. As you get older, it becomes harder for the body to synthesize vitamin D from the sun and you become more diet dependent. Eating foods that are higher in vitamin D, such as fish and eggs, is crucial.

B12 is another vitamin that is increasingly difficult to digest and absorb. B12 is actively involved in metabolism, red blood cell production and is linked to supporting cognitive health.

It is estimated that 15% to 30% of the population over age 50 is deficient in B12. If you fall into this category, it is suggested that during your routine blood work you request your physician check your levels of B12.

Continue to strive for your best health with beneficial diet and exercise and celebrate your independence daily.

Holly Wright of Bluffton is a Reiki Master, reflexologist, NASM certified personal fitness trainer, and co-owner of Trinity TheraSpa in Moss Creek Village. trinitytheraspa.com

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