Chew on This

How to stay healthy: Eat well, sleep well and keep moving

I am still sorting through everything I learned last week at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium in New York City. So many therapeutic interventions, packed into three days,

are a brain challenge. So it is not surprising that the presentations that stayed with me concerned maintaining optimal brain function. I am sharing three of my favorite “aha” moments. I like the simplicity of these preventative actions.

Marc Milstein Ph.D. spoke on lowering the risk for Alzheimer’s disease. He stated that one-third of the risk factors for dementia are preventable. And key for keeping memory intake is restorative sleep. To help with sleep, make sure the room is completely dark. Cover any light from a clock or television panels. Here is the first easy aha. Upon waking, go out in natural sunlight for just a few minutes. This will improve memory. For more from this expert go to

Telomeres are the caps at the end of a chromosome. They protect the genes from damage. As we age, telomeres shorten. There are dietary interventions that can help keep our telomeres as long as possible. A diet high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and omega 3 fatty acids lengthens telomeres. Second aha: People who do moderate aerobic exercise, about three times a week for 45 minutes — have telomeres similar in length to marathon runners.

The last aha moment concerns the immune system. Seventy-five percent of our immune cells are in the gut. To strengthen the immune system feed the gut the prebiotic fibers that nourish the good bacteria. The best prebiotic foods are chicory, garlic, leeks, onions, asparagus, banana and artichoke. To increase the population of good bacteria in the gut enjoy cultured yogurt, kefir, and fermented foods.

Three days with the top minds in integrative health and the message remains the same: eat well, sleep well and keep moving.

Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.