CORVALLIS - When it comes to living a healthy life, it seems like the experts are always arguing over the latest study or diet fad, and the rules change constantly.
Even today, the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences raised the recommended dietary allowances for a number of antioxidant vitamins, to levels some researchers say are better but still not high enough. To provide a blueprint for healthy living that they believe most effectively embodies all the available science and medical studies, experts at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University have developed some basic guidelines.
The guidelines are no guarantee you'll live to be 93, like Linus Pauling did. On the other hand, it never hurts to try.
"We think all of these guidelines are based in sound science and, if followed, could make a substantial difference in both the lifespan and health of average Americans," said Balz Frei, professor and director of the Linus Pauling Institute. "We do have concerns that some of the RDAs just announced don't adequately reflect the range of studies which show the value of slightly higher levels of antioxidant vitamins and other nutrients to help prevent chronic disease."
"Chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer are the cause of death for most people in industrialized nations around the world," Frei said. "There are ways to improve your diet, avoid carcinogens and take advantage of the nutritional findings made in recent years which clearly will not hurt you, cost little or nothing, and the studies indicate are of considerable importance."
The prescription of the Pauling Institute suggests:
- Don't smoke; exercise regularly.
- Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, which will provide more than 200 milligrams of vitamin C.
- Reduce the intake of sugar and saturated and hydrogenated fat, such as butter, stick margarine, cheese, animal fat, and vegetable shortening.
- Eat unrefined foods high in fiber, such as whole-grain breads, cereals, pasta and rice.
- Use monounsaturated oils for cooking and salad dressings, such as olive, canola and nut oils.
- Eat fish high in omega-3 fatty acids at least once a week, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel.
- Avoid overcooked or charred meat, and eat modest portions of lean meat or fish with ample portions of vegetables.
- Drink plenty of healthful fluids, such as water, fruit juices and tea.
- Consume moderate amounts of alcohol - not more than one drink a day for women and two for men - to reduce the risk of heart disease; however, avoid alcohol if you have a family history of breast or colon cancer, or alcohol addiction.
- Take a multivitamin-mineral containing 100 percent of the daily values, and daily extra supplements of folic acid (400 mcg), vitamin E (200 mg, natural source or d-alpha-tocopherol) and selenium (100 mcg).