Q: I'm 70 and still bike metric century rides (100K, or 62 miles) once or twice a year. But when I went to a new orthopedic doc to ask about pain in my thumb, he looked at my chart and said, "Well you know, you are getting older ...," so I told him to cut out the condescension and treat me like a 40-year-old! How do we stop this all-too-common medical ageism? - Carolyn D., Denver
A: Ageism in medicine is a problem. Calling it out is one way to help change that. When you're your own best patient advocate, you also help the next patient that comes through your doctor's door. But we want practicing physicians to look beyond your chart, after they've reviewed it carefully, and focus on your RealAge (take the RealAge test at Sharecare.com).
According to the Social Security Administration, a woman turning 65 today can expect to live, on average, to age 86.5. A man reaching age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 84. The average life expectancy for a woman didn't surpass 65 until 1944 and for a man, 1949. Today, about one out of every three 65-year-olds in North America will live past 90, and about one out of seven will live past 95. That means most people will spend more time in "elderhood" than childhood.
We estimate that those over age 65 are now more productive and generating more tax revenue than those under age 30! Meanwhile, the Congressional Budget Office still considers all programs for those over age 65 a cost instead of a way to help generate revenue! They seem to be out of touch with current data.
That said, healthy aging does deserve some special consideration. Even when you are active and make sure to eat right and get enough sleep, bones can get brittle, skin and muscle can lose some suppleness, and aches and pains can become, well, recalcitrant. So, you need to make sure you continue to be physically active, manage stress and eat enough protein. You need a bit extra from veggies and fruit (a minimum eight to 10 servings a day) and lean meat/fish. Also, get regular bloodwork to make sure your vitamin levels are where they should be.
Q: I live alone and I prefer to buy organic fruits and vegetables, but I end up throwing a lot of food away because by the time I get to it, it's spoiled. Is frozen an acceptable alternative? - James D., Atlanta
A: Frozen organic fruits and vegetables are a great idea, and there's almost no nutritional difference between fresh and frozen. A study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry analyzed four vitamins in blueberries, broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans, peas, spinach and strawberries: ascorbic acid (vitamin C); riboflavin; alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E); and beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A). The researchers found that the frozen varieties were comparable to, and sometimes higher in vitamin content than their fresh counterparts. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says, for example, that frozen green beans are almost always higher in nutritional content than fresh store-bought, as the fresh lose a lot of nutrients during transport.
The USDA also says frozen fruits are commercially picked at their peak of ripeness and frozen in a nitrogen atmosphere that helps preserve nutrients. Freezing also allows you to get many organic fruits out-of-season. Even fish that's frozen right after being caught will have its nutrients sealed in. Scottish salmon, for example, shows up fresh on your plate. Just make sure that your frozen foods don't contain added salt or sugar (in a sauce) and haven't been thawed and refrozen.
So, frozen could be a big win for you, James, in terms of nutrition and cost-savings. And remember to always remove foods from plastic packaging if you're thawing or cooking them in the microwave.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.